The Religious leaders of the Jews did not recognize Christ’s authority to forgive sins.
Jesus asks what is easier; to tell this man your sins are forgiven or pick up his mat and walk.
Jesus astounded the crowd when the man picked up his mat and walked.
Jesus states, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.
When I read John 20:23 I find that Jesus did instruct his Apostles to forgive mens sins and hold them bound. This is an authority commanded by Christ!
It is Jesus who forgives in the action of his Ministers. The question becomes, do you believe in Jesus, and does he have the power to forgive sins?
I say, yes he does! Can Jesus use his Church? Yes, he can!
He has commanded it! Jesus gives this authority to forgive sins to his Church saying, “Recieve the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retaned” (John 20:23).
St. Paul would refer to this Ministry as the Ministry of Reconciliation. I’ve heard some say they do not need a “middle man” for forgiveness, they believe you can go straight to Jesus.
I encourage to take all concerns to Jesus everytime. However, when dealing with sin and reconciliation, I must say that we are to go to the Catholic Priest to recieve absolution. St. Paul writes, “And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their traspasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
St. Paul continues, “Working together, then, we appeal to you not to recieve the grace of God in vain. For he says: In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you. Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6: 1-2).
James sees this “middle man” important for the sick man saying, “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the Church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14-15).
I prefer to have this “middle man” as well, those who are present that the Lord is working through.
The Ministry of Reconciliation was important to the poor sinner who has strayed from the truth, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
When you confess your sins, the Lord takes those confessed sins and throws them into the sea of forgetfulness and he remembers them no more.
You also recieve a judgment in the Confessional, a judgment of mercy. The Confessional is the mercy seat of God.
To be truly free and clean of sin, the Lord gives us his “Ministry of Reconciliation!