Third Sunday in Advent – Wednesday
David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord hath also put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. – 2 Samuel 12:13.
If, like David, penitent and athirst for mercy, you confess your sin, where, then, are you to hear the promise of forgiveness and the assurance that you will obtain life, eternal life? Where are you to hear the voice of Jesus Himself comforting you with this? – You hear this voice of forgiveness in the Gospel.
If in the church service you confess your sin before the called minister of the Word (the pastor), as before God Himself; and if the pastor there upon pronounces absolution, or forgiveness, to you in the name of the Lord, then this is as valid and certain – in heaven also – as if Christ, your dear Lord, dealt with you Himself; and you must never doubt, but firmly believe, that thereby your sins are forgiven before God in heaven. For thus writes the holy Evangelist John, chapter 20: “The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and saith unto them, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them.”
Thus the Lord Jesus has given to His disciples the power to remit sins, so that thereby the sins are actually forgiven. His believing disciples exercise this power publicly in their congregations through their called ministers of the Word. Thus, in “Confession” Christ, the Lord, is Himself truly present, and by the mouth of His called minister of the Word declares to you the forgiveness of your sins, and assures you of eternal life.
O wondrous mercy, wondrous consolation! Do but open the eyes of faith and see how mercifully near to you your Savior is. And comfort yourself with this mercy of His.
PRAYER. – Lord Jesus, I, a poor sinner, thirsty for mercy, do, as David did, receive Thy mercy and consolation. Thou, even Thou, my Savior, through Thy minister of the Word, dost proclaim to me a complete absolution of all my sins. And such mercy, such consolation, I may have as often as I desire it. The river of Thy mercy runs forever. For this I give Thee most hearty thanks. Through Thy Holy Spirit, draw me – a poor sinner – to come again and again, and to receive abundant grace from Thee, my ever-present, gracious, and blessed Savior. Amen.
The words which absolution give
Are His who died that we might live;
The minister whom Christ has sent
Is but His humble instrument.
All praise, eternal Son, To Thee
For absolution full and free,
In which Thou showest forth Thy grace;
From false indulgence guard our race.
Hymn 331, 5. 7.