Repent and Forgive
"And you my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins."
- Luke 1:76-77
These were just a few of the many words spoken by Zechariah that day, it being the eighth day in the life of his new son. He had much to say because it was the first time in quite a few months that he was able to speak at all. Zechariah, a priest of the temple, had lost his voice after expressing doubt when he was told by an angel of God the good news that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would finally have a son. The two of them were getting quite old and they were, so far, childless. He was told that the boy would be a joy and delight for them, and was to name him John. When Zechariah regained his voice, he praised God, and prophesied as to his son who, he proclaimed, would indeed be called John.
Years later, the boy now a man began preaching a message of repentance through baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Many repented and were baptized in the river by John, and through this baptism of water, the people gained the knowledge of salvation, the knowledge of freedom and healing through the forgiveness of their sins. They became free from sin and gained the freedom to choose to sin no more. They rose from the river feeling rejuvenated and new, feeling the healing effects of this knowledge. John had followers, yet he spoke of one who was more powerful than he, one who would heal many and forgive them their sins. He too would impart to the people the knowledge of salvation. and add a great deal more
"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit...."
- Luke 3:16
John had been asked if he was the one, if he was the Christ. John replied that there was one who was coming, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. And the day arrived when a man came to the river to be baptized by John. This was one Jesus of Nazareth, who, after being baptized, began a ministry of healing and forgiveness. He healed and forgave the sins of many. He preached a message of love and thanksgiving.
This is the Christ and through his life, death and resurrection He continues to heal and forgive. Through Jesus the Christ the sins of old are forgiven, giving to all the knowledge of salvation, the knowledge of a sinless nature, the freedom, the unburdening of sin. This freedom heals all. This freedom comes to all when they receive the Holy Spirit and when they repent.
" Repent and do the things you did at first"
- Revelation 2:5
Through repentance we become sorrowful and regretful for past wrongs and hurtful behaviors. Through repentance we desire forgiveness from God and from those we have hurt or continue to hurt, ourselves included, as we resolve to change our ways and make amends. Through repentance we feel the healing of possibilities, possibilities of brighter days to come, new beginnings - a new life. In this way, repentance becomes more about the present, how we live our lives today, and the good path that we have chosen.
Repentance is also, in a way, a returning to that earlier good path we once trod upon before choosing to turn away and travel the roads that led us to those wrongs and hurts, or the roads that we mistakenly took, leading us away from our purposes. We cannot go back and change these things, but we can regain, and return to, how it feels to travel the good path, how it feels to walk the good walk. We can regain how it feels to be free from the bondage of our sins. We are free to get back on track and move forward, forgiving and healing as we go. And if we have trouble finding that track or path, we trust in the Savior to show us the way. We move forward, but at times we become still, breathing and taking it all in, feeling the Spirit that surrounds us, the Spirit with its sinless nature, the Spirit we have been baptized with. We do this now, no need to wait, because the world does not need to come to an end for new worlds to begin. This is healing. This is freedom. But with freedom comes responsibility, the responsibility to forgive.
"As we also forgive...."
- Luke 11:4
Forgiveness is not easy. There may be some grievous hurts out there that seem to be unforgivable, some people that seem to need to remain un-forgiven. The best thing we can do is to let Jesus and his forgiving ways and the Holy Spirit with its forgiving nature to be with us at all times. The power of these forgiving ways and this forgiving nature will, no doubt, rub off on us, helping us to become more forgiving, allowing more healing to take place.
And then there are those lesser hurts, that may be difficult to let go of, actions that have wounded our pride or our values. Again we look to the forgiving ways of the Savior and the Spirit to guide us, helping us to practice forgiveness as new situations arise, perhaps making it a bit less difficult to take on a forgiving nature and live in forgiving ways. As we practice being forgiving, we may find it easier to forgive than not to, and find ourselves being peacemakers, averting problems that would need forgiveness to resolve, creating more healing. And again we move forward, moving forward with love.
"Love, ... it keeps no record of wrongs."
- First Corinthians 13:5
With love we are patient, with love we are kind. With love we forgive. When we live in loving ways, our forgiving nature becomes stronger; we desire to share with others the forgiveness we have received. We see forgiveness as a gift, a gift that needs to be passed around. We let go of grudges and try to make amends, and again we just may find it becoming easier to forgive than not to forgive, finding freedom from the burden of holding back. We are thankful for this gift of forgiveness, and thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit which empowers us to increase the forgiveness in the world. We return to the conclusion (Luke 1:79) of what is called the song of Zechariah and see that the Baptist and the Savior have given us the knowledge of the healing and the freedom of salvation to help us to continue moving forward, and "to guide our feet into the path of peace."
This article expresses my own views regarding these biblical passages and is not intended to contradict or challenge any traditional views or any beliefs based on them.
All bible passages are from the New International Version.
© 2012 Paul K Francis