I tell you that people will be forgiven everything – their sins, and all the slanders that they utter;
belie messiness in actuality
we come up with umpteen theories
of forgiveness requiring much
from a forgiver and forgivee
what sacrifice or penance required
is laid out in great detail
forgiveness is not just forgiveness
but earned or a heap of coals
relationships turned transactions
count ways of love too often shorter
than a count of wrongs and forgiveness
there may be nothing unforgivable
but multiple ways to avoid forgiving
We begin here with an affirmation of Truth, with a capital “T”—Amen! Having to aver something as true is always a bit problematic since it doesn’t just raise awareness of a significant point but often is a sign of an inveterate liar trying to hypnotize their mark.
In the midst of a deepening division between Jesus and religious/political leaders, this verse brings us back to people coming to John to be baptized. They desire their sins to be released and, like Mark, are not caught with fine distinctions between a general state of “sin” or its specific incidences.
Those coming to John from Jerusalem, seat of the economic and military power, religion and politics, desire forgiveness for the actual and worsening hurt carried by systems and structures that too easily exceed their bounds to claim ultimacy.
Whether we talk about an endemic or specific choice of sin, we can get bogged down in creedalism or minutiae and so miss the “Amen” point regarding the availability of forgiveness as a constituent part of a creation called from but never separable from chaos.
In a context of those now coming to Jesus from Jerusalem in a manner we might see as slanderous, libelous, or in some other way defaming his character, this continues to be a generous affirmation. Simultaneously, to be a part of Jesus’ context is to know that forms of argument are never done in discrete moments—they are as holistic as any positive quality.
The “Verily” that forgiveness is always available leads to a kicker to come—an on-going Prophetic tradition of non-negotiable care of the intentionally disadvantaged.