Forgive Us

Meg Jenista

Read: Luke 22:54-62

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. (v. 61)

Trapped in a lie. Saying a cruel word with the victim standing within earshot. Who of us doesn’t know that flood of shame, the creep of embarrassment, the panicked hope that the floor might swallow us up rather than have to face up to our own unfaithfulness.

I wonder how often Peter remembered that moment in the courtyard with Jesus’ eyes upon him. I wonder how often Peter remembered the forgiveness Jesus extended to him personally a few days later (see John 21). How much of that failure and forgiveness informed the grace he was equipped to extend to others?

Forgiveness—in its offering and its acceptance—is hard work. Forgiveness takes practice. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” isn’t as simple as all that (Matt. 6:12). The Heidelberg Catechism clarifies it this way: “forgive us just as we are fully determined, as evidence of your grace in us, to forgive our neighbors” (A. 125).

So, when we gather in worship, we make time and space for confession of sin and assurance of God’s pardon. It takes practice to own our failure and trust in God’s grace. This practice readies us to ask forgiveness of others and extend the grace of God to those who have hurt us, so that we may be “fully determined” in the hard work of forgiveness.

—Meg Jenista

Crucified Lord, you went to the cross to provide our forgiveness. Give us strength of heart and mind and will to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Amen.