What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a promise. Forgiveness is a vow. Forgiveness is an oath. Forgiveness is a promise not to hold a wrong against someone. Forgiveness acknowledges that a wrong was done, harm was done, and forgiveness is an act of grace, a gift, completely undeserved, swearing to release the debtor from his or her personal debt to you and never bring it up again as an obstacle to fellowship. There may be restitution still owed, and trust may not be immediately restored, and feelings may still be raw, but the debt of the personal harm and animosity is erased.
This table, in the first instance is actually God’s promise to us. Here, every week, He renews His promise to us not to hold our sins against us for the sake of Christ alone. This isn’t because His promise will ever run out, but because we are the kind of people who need to be reminded. When we say that our worship is a covenant renewal, this is part of what we mean. The Word of reconciliation is proclaimed in the Sermon and then we come to this Table where the word of reconciliation is sealed to us in the bread and the wine. In the ancient world peace treaties were almost always sealed with meals. And here God is assuring us that through the sacrifice of Christ, He is at peace with us. He is determined to bless us and hold none of our sins against us. He promises to remember our sins no more.
So as you come, see this table, this bread, this wine, as God’s everlasting oath, His promise, sealed in the blood of His own Son, that He will not hold your sins against you, that your debts are paid in full. This is like the rainbow after the flood, applied specifically to you and your sins. This is like the blood over our doors at the Passover. Here God reminds you that He has removed your sins as far as the east is from the west. He paid the debt you and I could never pay.
As you share this meal, as you pass the bread and the wine down the rows, you are sharing that promise with one another. If you are trusting God’s promise for your sin, then you cannot help but offer the same promise to everyone around you. There’s plenty to go around.
Here, you are eating and drinking an oath, a promise, a vow that cannot be broken. It is the promise of forgiveness for our sins. And if you have been forgiven, how can you not forgive? If the bread has been shared with you, how can you not share it with others? If the wine has been shared freely with you, how can you not freely share it with your wife, your husband, your children, your dad, your mom, your former employer, employee, neighbor, or whoever has harmed you or done you wrong?
So come and welcome to Jesus Christ.