The real trick with confession is believing that Jesus gives the same forgiveness to us here and now as He gave to those now justly famous confessing sinners found in the pages of Scripture mentioned before. We are forgiven and made whole because the Kyrie first and foremost Jesus’ own petition for us to His Father, when as He hung, mutilated and disgraced upon the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Do we dare to think that God does not hear the prayer of His own Son, or that same prayer when we pray in His name, the name He put on us in Baptism?
We know how those previously mentioned pericopes turn out. We know that Jesus doesn’t withhold forgiveness from those sinners. Our forgiveness is the same. We know that at the end of those stories, the demons flee, vision is restored, and the chains of sin are broken. We’re in good company then when He extends the same promise to us. Our forgiveness is just as much a done deal as the ones in the passages we read in personal devotion and hear read in worship year after year, as done and finished as the agony and victory of Calvary (John 19:30) and just as final as His resurrection from the dead on Easter morning. We’ve been crucified and drowned with the One whose greatest delight is to be merciful to us who are just as desperate, depraved, and doubting as the sinners of old. We’re fed by with the very Body and Blood by the very hands that touched sinners and were stretched out on the beam of the cross.
The story of our salvation is just as certain as those other stories because it’s all Christ’s story. God’s love for us in Christ Jesus is just as certain and unshakable as it for David, the publican, Bartimaeus, and all the other legions of sinner-saints who have gone before us. Jesus answers our doubt-ridden petitions with mercy, not as if He were some tyrant who demands to see us grovel, but as One radiant and joyful, living in the power of His resurrection, who laughs, “But of course I forgive you! That’s what I promised, didn’t I?” If Jesus has taken care of their sin and accepts their confession by His pure grace, then He won’t have any qualms with yours. Or mine.
Timothy Sheridan is a member of Our Savior Lutheran in Raleigh, NC.
Did you miss Part One of Confessions about Confession? You can read it here.