Then why would our Lord have entrusted the forgiveness of sins to His Apostles?
“Then why would our Lord have entrusted the forgiveness of sins to His Apostles?”
He didn’t, in the sense you describe. You can search the scripture for the idea of going to a priest and confessing one’s sins so they can be forgiven, but it isn’t there.
There is no example of an Apostle taking confession from a congregation. No mention of an Apostle ever doing so. In fact, there is no mention of priests, with the exception that we ALL are priests.
As the Apostle you set above all others - in a manner that would horrify him - says, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ...But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are Gods people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” - 1 Peter 2
And notice, we offer spiritual sacrifices - not the flesh and blood of Jesus being perpetually sacrificed in the Mass, but spiritual sacrifices: “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”.
The passage you reference says, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” - John 20
As Jesus forgave sins, so do we. How?
Look at how Jesus forgave sins. Did He hear confession? Did He prescribe penance? No, and No.
He proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven to be near. He preached the Good News. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life....Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
This isn’t an exhaustive study, but here is what I could come up with using a concordance for the times Jesus forgave sins:
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”...”For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”he then said to the paralytic”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” - Mt 9
Also in Mark 2 : “5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
And Luke 5: And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
“46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgivenfor she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” — Luke 7
Notice: When he saw their faith, he said ‘Your sins are forgiven’.
And in a similar passage to John 20, he tells the disciples on the road to Emmaus:
45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
What John 20 clearly teaches is that we - disciples, for not all the Apostles were even present in the John 20 passage - are to proclaim the Good News, as Jesus did, and to tell people “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
THAT is the forgiveness of sins entrusted to the disciples (John 20 specifies, “the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear”). The disciples of Jesus are sent “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
No priests. No hearing confession. No assigning penance.
We are given the commission the Father gave Jesus: proclaim the Good News: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”