Back from a week off, driving up to visit Donna’s family in Philadelphia. The drive was full of problems with traffic, taking us nearly 40% longer than it should have, but the trip, overall, was good and we enjoyed being with family.
Now back to work.
As far as the question, “Does Yeshua forgive sins?” goes, the answer seems obvious, doesn’t it?
In Matthew 9, Yeshua tells the Pharisees and Torah teachers that he has the authority to forgive sins on earth.
(Keep this in mind: he specifically said he was able to forgive sins on earth. )
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John writes in his first letter (1 John 2:2) that when we sin, Yeshua “pleads our case with the Father”, and that he (Yeshua) is the Kappurah (covering) for our sins.
How do these two opposite statements, Yeshua says he can forgive sins but John says he pleads our case with God, be reconciled? How does Yeshua go from forgiver to intercessor? C’mon, you guys- does Yeshua forgive our sins or not?
I believe the answer is that he was able to forgive sins when he was walking the earth and spreading the Good News to prove he was (and still is, of course) the Messiah.
We need to remember that in those days, a physical impairment such as deafness or blindness, paralysis, etc. was considered often to be the result of one’s sinfulness. So, healing that infirmity demonstrated not just God-given power to perform miracles, but also the authority to forgive sins.
The healing that the Messiah did was proof of his authority ON THE EARTH to forgive sins.
Let’s look at another side of this: In John 20:23, Yeshua breathes the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on his disciples and tells them that whomever they forgive the sins of, those sins will be forgiven, and whomever they do not forgive, will not be forgiven.
This is not just giving his disciples the authority to forgive sins, but the authority to prevent forgiveness!
Now, wait a minute here! Is it really what it seems to be? Did Yeshua tell mere mortals that not only can they forgive the sins of people, but they can override God by preventing those sins from being forgiven?
Is God unable to forgive a sinner because some human being didn’t?
I really don’t have an explanation for this, but it doesn’t make sense when comparing this one statement to the entirety of the Bible (this is an exegesis system called Hermeneutics) because no one outranks God. Period! So, even though Yeshua told his disciples they could forgive sins, I believe this had to be a one-time event and to be understood as Yeshua granting them this authority specifically in order to continue the spreading of the Good News, in his place.
Even if by some chance Yeshua did grant that authority to them, it was to them- not to their descendants or people who took over their job, but just to them.
In fact, in John 20:21, just before he breathed the Ruach HaKodesh on them, he told them that just as God sent him, he is now sending them. This seems to justify my interpretation, in that it was meant for those specific people in order to continue proving that they, just as Yeshua, had God-granted authority through the Holy Spirit, and to prove the validity of the ministry.
Catholicism has stated that from the Pope down to the “greenest” Priest fresh out of Seminary school, these anointed leaders of the faith are allowed to forgive sins. I suppose their justification for that is based on the statement Yeshua makes here, in the Gospel of John. Too bad it doesn’t hold water, because it is clear from the rest of the Bible that no mere mortal is allowed to override God when it comes to forgiveness.
We have a similar issue with Yeshua’s statement that Kefa (Peter) holds the keys to the kingdom and whatever he does, the same will be done in heaven (Matthew 16:19). Again, it just doesn’t hold true to the rest of the Bible that a mere mortal can tell God what he will or will not do.
My interpretation is that the things Yeshua told Kefa he would do were not binding on God, but on people and that whatever he decided was a proper form of worship would be honored in heaven.
In other words, Yeshua told Kefa that he would be establishing the Halakah (Way to Walk) for the Believers, which we see happening later. It happened when Kefa went to the house of Cornelius and opened up the Kingdom of God to the Gentiles, as well as through his authority (with the other Elders in Jerusalem) he authorized the letter to the new Gentile Believers in Acts 15.
That delegation was specifically to Kefa and was not transferable to anyone else.
My answer to the original question of whether or not Yeshua forgives sins is that he did have that authority when he was on the earth, which was specifically given to prove he was the Messiah.
But now? No!
At that time Yeshua forgave sins but now he is the means by which our sins are forgiven. His sacrificial death replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem (which no longer existed after 73 AD) and his position as Messiah is to plead our case before God, who is now the only one who can forgive sins.
As I have said many, many times: Yeshua is the Intercessor of prayer, not the Interceptor of it.
The same goes for the forgiveness of sins: Yeshua’s death is the means by which we are able to be forgiven, but he is not the one to pray to for forgiveness: that comes only from God, the Father.
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Das ist alles, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!