Forgive us our sins/debts, as we forgive those who sin against us.
We understand the concept that a debt must be paid, and there is a specific payment appropriate to the debt. With these lines in the Lord’s prayer Jesus reminds us that he didn’t just do us a nice favour in dying on the cross. It was the specific payment, essential to be paid in order for us to be righteous before God. We had a debt to pay, an impossible debt that we could never afford.
When we consider this we can all too easily miss the incredible beauty of the Gospel. It can seem too simple – that we owed a debt, we could never afford to repay the debt so Jesus died for us to repay it in full. It is when we take this for granted or consider it too simplistic that we fall into a religious trap – to try and work things out ourselves in order to be right before God. The Gospel, or good news, is that God came down & saved us so we could be right before him, not because of us but because of him.
Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t get to the issue of addressing our debt/sin until near the end of the Lord’s Prayer. He begins with our personal relationship with God and then to ask him for his will and kingdom to be present in our lives. We get to ask for our daily needs and then we get to to our debt. Jesus wanted us to be so rooted and grounded in our relationship with God that sin wouldn’t be a wedge between us. In Hebrews we are told to come boldly to the throne of God – fully aware of who we are in him. It is here that we can understand the true beauty of the gospel.