And the Lord Jesus breathed on them and said, "Peace be with you. If you set an example of behavior, people will behave." No. "Peace be with you. If you encourage people in being good people, they will be good people." No again. "Peace be with you. If you set a good example for people to follow, they will be nice to each other." Still no. "Peace be with you. If you help people get their lives straight, they can go to heaven." No and no! Christ is risen from the dead. And that means one thing: sins are forgiven. "Peace be with you. If you forgive anyone's sins they. Are. Forgiven." Jesus doesn't ordain His Apostles to go and judge people and nitpick their lives. He sends them to forgive sins. He sends them to deliver personally, into their ears, the Good News that because Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead, whatever you've thought or said or done against God and your neighbor can no longer ever count against you. The Father sent Jesus and He sends the Apostles. The Father sent Jesus to save the world. Jesus sends His Apostles to deliver that forgiveness which saves people.
Now, He DOES also say, "If you bind anyone's sins they are bound." What is that? That's just telling people that if they don't want their sins forgiven, and they want to live like their sins are not forgiven, then they won't be forgiven. NOT because they're not forgiven by Jesus but because the person doesn't want forgiveness. It's kind of like the warden coming into a prison cell and telling an inmate, "The governor has pardoned you. You are free to go!" And then the inmate says, "No, I'm going to stay here in prison." How does that make any sense? That's what the binding of sins is all about. If you don't want forgiveness, well, you can act like you don't have it. But why would you do that? The forgiveness of sins is free. It's a gift. It's the whole reason Jesus did everything that He did. And it's yours!
Now, the resurrection of Jesus means your grave is going to be empty on the Last Day. You are going to be raised from the dead. We know this is true because of the forgiveness of sins. And we know the forgiveness of sins is ours because Christ has sent out pastors to declare it. In fact, everything a pastor is about is the forgiveness of sins: baptizing, absolving, preaching Christ crucified and raised, giving the body and blood of Christ to His disciples. Each of those gifts is just one more way that Jesus is proving to you, that His forgiveness is YOURS. That every one of your sins has been taken care of and forgiven. That you have eternal life. That everything that is His is yours. In fact, everything the Christian church is about is the forgiveness of sins. It's how God loves you. It's what the blood and water and Spirit testify to. And that forgiveness is your life lived toward your neighbor too. You do your work, carry out your callings, and most of all you forgive the people around you. Be forgiven. Then forgive. That's life as a Christian. And standing behind the forgiveness Jesus gives you and that you give to others is His triumph over sin on Good Friday and His triumph over death on Easter. And standing behind your forgiveness is the water, the Word, and the body and blood. And those gifts of Jesus stand behind the forgiveness you give to others. Peace be with you. Now go and forgive sins, He says to the preachers. That's what it's all about. That's why Jesus did all that He did. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Sermon Topics: John