What Jesus Did! 'The Spirit Gives Us Power to Forgive' — John 20:22-23

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Then [Jesus] breathed on [the disciples] and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
— John 20:22-23 NLT

Key Thought

In the Lord's Prayer and immediately following it, Jesus showed that our own forgiveness depends on our forgiving others. [1] In today's verses, he reminds us that the Holy Spirit is crucial in giving the gift of forgiveness to God's community. Clearly, part of the work of the Spirit in this context is discernment and authority to forgive. However, the Spirit, who forms Christ in us and brings spiritual fruit to maturity in us, is crucial in our power to forgive. So our prayer should be that the Lord continue to fill us, guide us, lead us, and transform us by his Spirit so that we can truly be his agents of redemption, reconciliation, and grace.

[1] Matthew 6:12, 14-15.

Today's Prayer

Father in heaven, glorious and mighty, I confess that it is often hard for me to forgive the sins of those who have wronged me. Please fill me with your Spirit and help me to be forgiving because I know that I need to forgive others so I can grow to be like Jesus and because my own forgiveness depends on my being forgiving. I do ask for your forgiveness. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 18:21-22
  • Ephesians 4:29-32
  • Matthew 6:14-15


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Illustration of John 20:22-23 NLT — Then [Jesus] breathed on [the disciples] and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

About This Devotional

What Jesus Did! is a series of one-year devotional guides through each gospel, using one short scripture passage each day and following the Gospel in sequential order. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage and a reflection and a prayer which open up the day's scripture and show how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware and is available in book form.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.