“Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.””
After Jesus’ resurrection, on the Sunday evening, Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples. After comforting them with peace, as they were afraid of being arrested by the Jewish leaders, Jesus breathed on them and gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples. Jesus then said the following words to His disciples…“If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Why did Jesus say these words? He could have easily said, ‘now that you are filled with the Holy Spirit, go and do signs and wonders, go and use all the gifts of the Holy Spirit to bring people to Me..!’ Yet Jesus chose to speak words of forgiveness, not to belittle the above as they are important characteristics of a Christian, but rather because forgiveness is the essence of our salvation and our walk with Christ and can only take place through the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus didn’t say these words to give us power to forgive each others sins as if we are taking over God’s place, because as we know, only God can forgive sins committed towards Him. He spoke these words to give us power over holding on to bitterness and the hurts that people’s actions have caused us, so that we can release them from what they did and ourselves from holding on to it. How can we do that? Because Jesus did exactly that for us on the cross. He completely forgave us and released us from the guilt and condemnation that our sin brings. If we are forgiven to such a great extent, then we should as graciously forgive those who do wrong towards us.
Jesus chose to say these words because on the cross, He defeated all pain, bitterness and anger and after His resurrection empowered us to forgive others by giving us the Holy Spirit, and setting us the perfect example; so just as we are forgiven by Him, so we must forgive others. When we let go of un-forgiveness, we can be set free to live in joy and freedom. Let us this day ask God to reveal who we need to forgive and release from bitterness.