John 20:
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Reconciliation requires reassurance. Jesus says ‘peace be with you’ and then repeats it again. And then he says it another way. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. All of this reassurance comes within moments.

It comes to the group. It comes later to individuals within the group. We all need to be reassured that restoration is taking place.

We need reassurance, because the past suffering has turned into purpose for our lives. ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ Jesus was sent to enter the suffering of others and we are, too. We need to receive the Holy Spirit if we are to join this ministry of reconciling all things back to God.

There is a difference between reconciliation and forgiveness. In the cross, Jesus provided for the forgiveness of everyone. But not everyone will be reconciled with Him–because they won’t seek to be reconciled with Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer forgave his Nazi guards, but he was never reconciled with them. The same is true for you. You can forgive anyone who hurts you, even if they don’t seek your reconciliation.[i]

There is still a conditional part to God’s plan.


If you forgive someone…

You have the Holy Spirit to empower you in reconciliation.

Just as fear can be passed on to successive generations, love can respond to the present and future generations and start a new history. Jesus was actually dead and the disciples’ fear could have stayed with them after the resurrection. But, God made the first move to change the future. We can join in the reconciliation of all things when we own our history and make amends.

Amy Biehl died a violent death in 1993. She was a 26-year-old Fulbright scholar who had gone to South Africa to help register black voters for their first free election. But even though she was seeking to help the people of South Africa, as she was driving one day, she was dragged out of her car, stabbed and beaten to death by a mob that was committed to violence in order to overthrow of the apartheid government. Soon afterward, Amy’s parents, Linda and Peter Biehl, quit their jobs and moved from their Orange County, California home to South Africa — not to seek revenge, but to start a foundation in Amy’s name.
Today, two of her killers work for the foundation. They call Mrs. Biehl “Makhulu,” or grandmother, because of the way she treats them. She says, “Forgiving is looking at ourselves and saying, ‘I don’t want to go through life feeling hateful and revengeful, because that’s not going to do me any good.’ We took Amy’s lead. We did what we felt she would want.” [ii]