Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
What does [the 5th Petition] mean? We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
INI + AMEN.
The 5th Petition speaks your daily Christian life. First, we’re reminded of sin and its solution: “Forgive us our trespasses…” They are forgiven. You are forgiven. There isn’t a single sin—no matter how deep, how dark, how bad—that’s left out. Nothing will cause your heavenly Father not to hear your prayer. What we ask for, He’s already doing. Jesus already finished everything! His death did it.
But…there are a few more words: “…as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That means: we’re all in this together. Yes, Christianity is about your Christian life of trusting your heavenly Father. He is that through Baptism. But living like a Christian is also “love toward one another.” And the 5th Petition shows us that love for those around you has a very specific concrete way of working itself out: we forgive those who trespass, who sin against us.
((2. We’re all in this together.))
We often overlook this. We make Christianity a “me and Jesus” thing. We don’t think or live like it matters how we treat the people who’ve wronged us, hurt us, done something against us. Because once they’ve done that, well, that’s pretty much it for them, isn’t it? That’s what we do. Cut them off. Avoid them. Hurt them back.
The 5th Petition cuts through all that. It’s not just my own personal prayer about me. No, it’s not just a you and Jesus and your Father prayer. It’s an “our” prayer. All in this together. It’s for all of us together, as one body. The 5th Petition hammers this home. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This is a prayer for sinners who live around other sinners! If you deal with other people, this Petition is for you! We aren’t isolated items or loners, and this is even true as sinners.
Our problem with sins is that we make sin something that’s not real. It’s just an idea. But sins are real. They happen. And you can’t have harmless sins. No, when you sin, you sin against someone else. Judas didn’t just sin. He “betrayed innocent blood.” Same with the chief priests and scribes and Peter and the soldiers—they sinned against Jesus and the other people around them.
We tend to think: “Yeah, I’m a sinner. Yes, I sin.” But who’d you sin against? Then we dodge, “Well, God, of course!” True enough, but who are you holding a grudge against? Who’d you fail to help? Who’s the person that you’re withholding mercy, love, and forgiveness from? Who’s the person you’ve “hurt by your words or deeds?” That person has a name. Yes, your sin breaks God’s Law, but who’s the person in your life that takes it?
We don’t like to think about that. We shrug it off. Not a big deal, right? But how often we think about the faces and names of the people who’ve hurt us! Their sin against us consumes us. We demand mercy and forgiveness for our actions or inactions, but the actions of others receive none. Quite the opposite! Well, not openly, just in our hearts. Left to ourselves, we’re a mess, a mess of merciless sinners. Guilty as charged!
((1. Jesus came for us—He’s with us.))
But we’re not alone. We aren’t left to ourselves. We’re not isolated items, even in our sins. And it’s not just the fact that there’s real people in our lives that we sin against. No, Jesus doesn’t leave us alone. He doesn’t leave us in the merciless mess we make of our often only so-called Christian lives.
He should have let us be. The guilty don’t deserve mercy. But then the Lord comes! “For us men and for our salvation [He] came down from heaven.” That’s the Nicene Creed. He gifts us with these words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us!” That’s what Jesus is all about. He comes along side sinners. He takes their sins, your sins, my sins, and He makes them all His own. He doesn’t leave us in our sins.
He’s guilty. That’s the judgment against Him. But you’re guilty. I am, too. Guilty of not only sinning against others (and God Himself), but guilty of adding sin upon sin by not forgiving the sins of other people. He’s guilty in your place! He takes your neighbor’s wrongs, even the wrong done against you, and He suffers for it. He takes your grudge and dies for it. He takes that whole sinful situation into His own body and caries off to His tomb. There it dies. Never to see the light of day again.
The forgiveness Jesus secures in His death and resurrection really is ours. He delivers it to us! Yes, it’s for each of us, each of you. He delivered it to you in your Baptism, in the Absolution, and in His body and blood. More and more forgiveness from Him for you because He knows how deep your sin goes. (He knows that even better than you do.) But it’s more than His Word and His Gifts. Remember: we’re all in this together! That’s the Christian life, that’s the Lord’s Prayer, and that’s the 5th Petition, too.
His forgiveness is for us, and His own forgiveness runs through us. That’s how He all the more forgives your sin and the sin of those around you. He uses us to do it! How fantastic! You’re not only praying for your forgiveness in the 5th Petition but for your neighbor, too! (It’s “our” after all.) Yes, your neighbor sinned against you and against God in the process, and the Lord Jesus put you right here, right now to pass His forgiveness on to them, to cover their sin. And your Christian brothers and sister are there to do the same for you. That’s just what Christians do.
It’s just Jesus doing it through you in this Petition and in your daily life, too. He makes His forgiveness free flowing in us. We just get in the way. We should repent of that. Repent all the way to finding the wrong doer and saying Jesus forgives you and I do, too!
So, what does [the 5th Petition] mean? We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them. We are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that He would give them all to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment. So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us.
That’s the Christian life. We’re all in this together. Praying together. Being forgiven together. Being forgiving together. It’s all in Jesus. He’s the source; we’re the instrument. He’s the spring, we’re the stream, our neighbor the dried-out field. We forgive. That’s what forgiven people do. No grudges. Forgiveness. All in Jesus.
That’s everything of Christianity. That’s everything of the 5th Petition.
WE ARE FORGIVING AND FORGIVEN IN JESUS.
He was the guilty one. You’re innocent, acquitted, forgiven. So’s your neighbor. Jesus bled and died for whatever wrong or sin or trespass is done. Whether you did it against your neighbor, and they did it against you. We pass on His forgiveness. He showers it upon you. Pray for it. He’s already doing it. He’ll keep doing it. More and more for you. Font. Bible. Pulpit. Absolution. Sermon. Body and Blood. More and more and more. He’s going to fill you to overflowing with forgiveness. In Him you are. In Him you are forgiven. In Him you’re forgiving, too. We all are. WE ARE FORGIVING AND FORGIVEN IN JESUS. Him for you. Him through you in this 5th Petition.
INI + AMEN.