The Only Person Who Can Forgive?
And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:21)
The past is inescapable and irreversible. This is why it’s so important to be careful about what we say and do. You see, it is impossible to take back harsh words or rude actions. We all have experienced times of great shame when we’ve hurt someone we love and feel helpless to fix the mess we’ve made.
When such an offense happens, there is an immediate debt that must be paid. The friend or family member whom you just offended now faces one of two paths. They could decide to “make you pay,” or they might choose to forgive you, thereby absorbing the IOU and canceling your debt.
Let’s consider a simple example and take a closer look at the only person who can forgive.
If I were to punch you in the nose but then quickly come to my senses and recognize my offense, it wouldn’t make sense for me to go to some of your friends and ask if they will forgive me. The fact is, the only person who can truly forgive me is the person I actually offended—in this case, you.
In Psalm 51, King David cries out for God’s mercy after he has committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband, Uriah. With a contrite heart, David confesses that he has sinned. But he declares that he has sinned against God, and God only.
In Luke 5, before Jesus heals a paralyzed man of his physical ailment, he declares that the man’s sins have been forgiven. The only way this makes sense is if the man’s sins were actually sins against Jesus. You or I wouldn’t think of forgiving this poor man’s sins because he did nothing against either of us. Just like David had sinned against God alone, my sins, your sins, and the paralytic’s sins have all been committed against God, and God only.
Although it is good for all of us to forgive each other and reconcile and thereby give our relationships a fighting chance, ultimately we need the forgiveness of God. Just like the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15, our heavenly Father is always on the lookout, eagerly waiting for us to repent and return home so that He can welcome us with a warm embrace, kiss us affectionately, clothe us with the best robe, put a ring on our finger and shoes on our feet, and celebrate the fact that we are home again.
Father, you are good and holy. We are sinful from the moment we are conceived, leaving us lost in our sins and in great need of forgiveness. Although my offenses affect friends, neighbors, and family members, I acknowledge that my sin grieves you and is against you and you alone. I am ashamed and in need of forgiveness—your forgiveness. My debt is great, my burden too much. Have mercy on me! Thank you for making a way for the debt of my sin to be paid by the blood of Jesus Christ. For this great sacrifice, I am humbled and eternally grateful.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to help kids learn a biblical worldview. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! Davis’s four books include: Good Morning, God, based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path, an ABC book based on Psalm 119, In the Beginning, based on the Creation account in Genesis, and Psalms to Know Early.
© 2017 Davis Carman