What We Do When We Do Church – Absolution

John 20:22

“Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Part 1 – Hymnody

Part 2 – Invocation

Part 3 – Baptism

Part 4 – Confession of Sins

Confession of Sin comes in two parts.

Martin Luther’s Small Catechism says:

First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

In the last devotion – the link is above – we explored what the confession of sins actually is and how it is connected to baptism.

The absolution of sins is also connected to baptism in that the one absolving the sins – usually the called and ordained servant of Christ officiating confession – uses the words of Holy Baptism:

“I forgive you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

It isn’t the officiant that is actually forgiving sins. It was the Pharisees that actually understood that only God can forgive sins – yet they missed the whole point of Jesus forgiving sins. He was (and is) God!

The officiant/pastor is actually forgiving sins “in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Absolution is the forgiveness of sin. It is Jesus forgiving a person their sins through the pastor.

It is amazing to me how connected the confession of sins and absolution is to Holy Baptism. Baptism connects us to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ where our sins were forgiven on the cross and new life was given to us by Christ Himself.

Absolution is also our connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – as it uses the very same words as baptism!

To be absolved of sins means to be washed clean of all that clings so closely to us and brings us down.

The word absolve comes from the Latin word that means “to loosen.”

Sin clings so closely to us according to Hebrews 12:1. It takes the blood of Jesus Christ to loosen this sin. That tells us just how tightly sin clings to us

When I was about 10 years old, I found an old spray paint can. You know the kind, when you shake it rattles? Well, I wanted the thing inside that was making it rattle. So I took the can and a screw driver and punctured the can with the screw driver to get the little ball out.

Black paint sprayed all over my face!

I was able to make it back home and my mother ordered me straight into the bathroom. She started scrubbing and scrubbing with soap and a wash cloth. But that paint wasn’t coming off. It was clinging tightly to my face.

So out comes the paint thinner. She poured some of that on the wash cloth and it took the paint off my face. But it wasn’t a pleasant experience. It burned and hurt and my face was raw and red for days!

The sin that clings so closely to us can be removed – absolved – but it isn’t going to be easy and it isn’t going to be painless.

The good news for us is that Jesus took all the hardship and pain on Himself to remove our sin. He endured the cross and the pain and death itself to absolve us of all our sin.

When you hear the words of absolution “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” you should be reminded first of your baptism and then of what Jesus did on the cross to forgive your sin.

This is how the formal or liturgical worship service begins. Next we’ll move into the various aspects of the liturgical service, starting with the Introit / Psalmody.


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