On many a Sunday I had the privilege to announce an “assurance of pardon” during our church service. We go through a confession of our sins and following that I draw attention to the fact that we can rest assured knowing that we are forgiven. But I’ve had the conversation a couple times about what it is I’m doing when I make such announcements. The point that I try to make explicitly clear is that I am not the one doing the forgiving. I can’t forgive someone for their sins. Nor can I make atonement for them, pardon them, nor cleanse them from those sins.
So why have this as part of a service at all? What am I doing? As I’ve written, I “announce.” Jesus Christ is the one who can forgive our sins, and I draw attention to the gracious work that he has done.
We’ve read this week in Matthew 9 that Jesus ruffles quite a few feathers when he tells a paralytic that his sins are forgiven. He is accused of blasphemy, as though he acting out of order. But Jesus truly is the one with the authority to do this. It says in Romans 8 that Jesus he has power to judge us, but rather than condemn, he came to this world to die for us, and even now he intercedes on our behalf.
That is a savior worthy of proclamation, and his work for us is something I have the privilege to announce. I cannot forgive sins, but Jesus Christ, Son of God, can and does, and the good news I share is that in Christ, we are forgiven.