"If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven." John 20:23
Truth is often written in headstone inscriptions. Mount Olivet Cemetery at Hannibal, Missouri, is a case in point. It is the resting place of John and Jane Clemens, the parents of Mark Twain. An inscription there records this grim fact:
Leaves have their time in Fall
And flowers to wither at the north wind’s breath;
And stars to set, but all –
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death.
Another headstone expresses this confidence:
And when thou are refreshed in death,
Christ will give thee back thy breath.
In a tomb in Joseph’s “lovely garden” our dead and buried Lord was given back His breath. His presence was living proof of His victory over sin and death. At His reunion with His disciples He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit, If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven” (John 20:23). To forgiveness is linked the promise of life and salvation – the promise of eternal life. Forgiveness is the breath of life. It brings peace, hope, and joy. For He who pronounces it is Himself the resurrection and the Life.
Before ascending into heaven, our Lord entrusted to His church – and all His disciples constitute His church – the Office of the Keys, that is, the power to remit and retain sins. Those who live in repentance and faith have the burden of sin lifted off their chests and are free to breathe in Christ’s assurance of forgiveness. It brings peace.
PRAYER: Thank You, risen and ascended Lord, for the privilege of having the church disciples speak Your forgiveness to me. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)