Ernest Hemingway wrote a story titled, “The Capital of the World”, about a father and his teenage son living in Spain. The son had sinned against his father, greatly hurting him; in shame the son ran away from home. The father searched all over Spain for his straying son. In desperation he placed an ad in Madrid’s largest newspaper that read: “PACO MEET ME AT HOTEL MONTANA NOON WEDNESDAY. ALL IS FORGIVEN. PAPA.” And it took a whole squadron of police to keep order among the 800 young men named “Paco” who came to be reconciled with their father. Hemingway’s story speaks to the deep hunger of every soul to hear the word “forgiven”, to know that our Father in heaven welcomes us back.
Thus, Jesus speaks to our daily need to go to our Father and ask: “and forgive us our sins.” The word “forgive” is a translation of the Greek aphiemi, meaning “to send away”, “to put away”, “to let go”, and “to abandon”. In the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint), aphiemi was used for releasing a prisoner (Isaiah 61:1), letting go a debt (Deuteronomy 15:3), and sending away the scapegoat bearing Israel’s sins into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21).
The Father’s forgiveness of us feels like a heavy burden lifted. It feels like being set free, our debts paid, and our record wiped clean. Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom told of her mental picture of forgiven sins thrown into the sea: “When we confess our sin, God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever…I believe God then places a sign out there that says ‘No Fishing Allowed.’” (Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord) Yes, ‘no fishing allowed’ as God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). God reveals His astonishing forgiveness of us: “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34; compare Hebrews 8:12).
Jesus paints the unforgettable portrait of our Father’s forgiveness in the story of the Prodigal Son. As Jesus describes the remarkable scene: “While he was still far off, his father saw him and filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). This is our Father’s eagerness always to welcome and forgive you as you pray, “And forgive us our sins.”
PRAY THE LORD’S PRAYER (MORNING-NOON-NIGHT)