Is Forgiveness Unlimited?

September 02, 2016

Matthew 17:24-27

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

CONSIDER THIS

If ever I have taken a verse out of its context it is this one:

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

And frankly I think it may be ok. There is a universal principle articulated here that has particular application in this context. Remember, we are talking about the situation where a person has confronted a lost member of the community to no avail. They next took two other witnesses to attempt to bring the person back from the brink of their waywardness, again to no avail. Finally, the church essentially excommunicated the person from their fellowship.

Let’s remember back to the Old Covenant and how it prescribed treatment in this kind of scenario:

On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. Deuteronomy 17:6-7.

The two witnesses who were brought into the proceedings were actually ordered to be the ones who cast the first stone. Jesus is essentially saying that the two witnesses should be the ones to cast the first prayers—to agree in the presence of God for the redemption and restoration of the offender. That’s quite a reversal isn’t it.

Still processing all of this, Peter turns his thinking from the wayward sinner to his own relationships and asks this question:

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Peter thought he was keeping with the program with his idea. Jesus blew it out of the water. He’s telling Peter and us that his followers do not conform to conventional teaching. We are to be like Jesus, which means, when it comes to brothers and sisters sinning against us, we are to become people of unlimited mercy.

I struggle with this. How about you?

So is God’s forgiveness unlimited? If so, doesn’t that mean the same should be true for our forgiveness toward others?

Yep, this is a struggle.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, thank you for teaching us your ways of mercy and forgiveness. Thank you even more that you will empower us to do so as we extend ourselves toward others in this way. I confess my own slowness to forgive reveals to me my slowness to understand how much I’ve been forgiven. Help me with this. I want to be a person of extravagant mercy. It will not happen without you.

Daily Text MATTHEW 09-02-16THE QUESTIONS

1. What do you think about the ways Jesus changes the teaching here from the Old Testament to the New Testament?

2. Why do you think the practice of forgiveness is so essential?

3. How about you? Do you struggle with forgiveness? Do you think you have really received forgiveness in a deep way? Could your struggle to extend forgiveness reflect your struggle to receive and appropriate forgiveness?

—————-

Subscribe to receive the Daily Text email.

Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.

J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

NO COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY