When Jesus walked the earth, He was the only one who could forgive sins, who could absorb the burden of the debt owed to God by those who had done harm to others. But we must be careful about what that means.

The false way of thinking about God is that, in forgiving, He acts like a king, with a king’s power of granting amnesty. A king’s forgiveness causes no hardship for the king; it merely insists, legally, that the king’s subject who has been harmed must bear the cost of the harm, rather than requiring reparation from the transgressor. It is an exercise of the prideful awareness of power, not an exercise of love.

But Jesus teaches us that love works by absorbing suffering. That’s what love is, in Christ’s teaching: that which bears burdens, that which forgives.

And God is love.

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