Archive for November 12, 2017


Forgiveness

Now that we’ve been through these other relationships, let’s return to Matthew 18. Peter has been with Jesus through the whole teaching and the proverbial lightbulb of an idea goes off in his head. He knows what this teaching is about. Now at this point, I should tell you, I am a big fan of Peter. He’s one of my favorite people from Scripture. I feel like he would be something of a kindred spirit for me. He sometimes charges into situations without thinking. He can be bold and brash. I like all that about him but did you ever notice when he’s around Jesus, he’s a different person. When he’s around Jesus, all he wants to do is please Jesus. I know it might be impossible for flawed humanity to impress a perfect God, but Peter’s still going to try, Peter hears Jesus teaching on conflict resolution and knows that at the heart of the matter is forgiveness. By the way, this is also key for all of our relationships.

It almost seems as if he interrupts Jesus. “Master, how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me, up to seven times.” Now please note, Peter is trying to be impressive here. It is said that the pharisees demanded that you forgive someone three times. That’s it. If someone did something a fourth time, you could write them off. You could wash your hands of them. They were dead to you. As you can imagine this was disastrous. People everywhere had to be keeping tally sheets (at least mental ones) on how many more times people could fail before relationships could be broken. This might be why Paul told us that “love keeps no record of wrongs.” Peter in his statement is trying to show Jesus that he is willing to go double what is required, plus one more. Now ordinarily that would be fantastic. If your boss at work required something of you and you doubled it, plus one more, that would be a very good day for all involved, but when Jesus hears Peter’s “generous” offer, something different happens. I can almost picture Jesus smiling, shaking his head just a little and saying “No Peter, not seven times but seventy seven times, and some translations say seventy times seven—490 times.

Please don’t get caught up in the number. All that would give us is longer tally sheets. What Jesus is really saying is, “I want you to forgive, and then I want you to forgive more, and then I want you to keep on forgiving until you lose count, and then forgive some more.” Now I will be the first to admit that is a really tall order. How can Jesus ask so much of us? He can ask for two reasons, first and foremost is because He is God, but the bigger issue is that is the example He set. That is what He does for us. Forgiving over and over again as we fail over and over again, because our relationship with Him is of paramount importance to Him. Remember he’s all about relationships. He doesn’t look at us and say. “Enough, I’ve had it with you. That’s part of the reason His grace is so amazing.

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