Daily Lectionary: Isaiah 2:1-22; 1 Peter 1:13-25

What do you believe according to these words? I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself. (The Small Catechism: Office of the Keys)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus died and rose for all our sins, every last one of them. There isn’t a sin that Jesus didn’t die for. All sins—not just ours but the whole world’s sins—are atoned for by His most holy blood. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, being crucified for our transgressions and raised for our justification. There is free forgiveness for all—you included.

We want to do better. We try so hard to please the Lord, and then we just mess it up. We want to love our neighbor, our coworkers, our classmates, our teachers, our parents, brothers, sisters, friends, but you know how it goes. Something happens and we don’t. We know the Lord is displeased with this so we try and make it up to Him and them, but that doesn’t really get us anywhere except living life with an infinitely long to-do list.

The Lord’s forgiveness can’t be bartered. We can’t play the “Lord if you forgive me, I will” card, even though we try this daily and much. So how do we get it? Repent of our sins, even our bartering. The Lord forgives us, apart from us. The Lord calls us to repentance, to confess, but this is only the means to deliver His forgiveness to us. We can’t get to the cross to hear Jesus say, “It is finished,” so we go where we can hear the same thing: our pastor. He’s sent there by Jesus to forgive our sins. When he forgives them, Jesus forgives them. It’s as valid and certain, even in heaven. The gates of heaven are opened to us. Jesus’ death unbarred the doors, your pastor unlocks them. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The Words which absolution give Are His who died that we might live; The minister whom Christ has sent Is but His humble instrument. (“As Surely as I Live,” God Said, LSB 614:5)

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