Again, I am recycling some older stuff that just seems….needed
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
During this short study and discussion, we will meander around quite a bit in Matthew 18, going from place to place. Our key verse will still be the above passage, as it seems much of what we read in this section of God’s Word seems to revolve around that question Peter asked Jesus.
We all know for the most part, that Peter was pretty sure of himself most of the time. Peter was known for a certain amount of brashness and confidence, and this was often to his embarrassment. Here, Peter was at it again, and this time I can totally picture how he must have felt.
“Hey Lord! If my brother offends me, I’m going to forgive him seven times! How cool and special is that! Look at me!” Okay, maybe that’s harsh, but it is basically true, as that is the picture I get from that question Peter asked Jesus. He understood the need for forgiveness, but thought two things:
To do it seven times was pretty special
There is a limit to how many times we have to forgive
How did Jesus respond to that question? He said the following
Matthew 18:22: Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Things just got a tiny bit more difficult. Even in a literal sense, to forgive a transgression 490 times is a lot! That, in the right situation, could take years! Likely, this was not meant literally, but as a representation of….forever. In effect, Jesus was saying, “No, Peter, not seven times; you forgive him every time, all the time, and for all time.”
This is hard isn’t it? People are mean, people are cruel, people are many things. People often inflict these traits on us, and harm us. But, Jesus made it clear just how broad our forgiveness should be, and how inadequate it actually is.
As with most things in life where we don’t quite measure up, we need only look at the example Jesus set for us in order to learn how we ourselves should behave. Today, we are only looking at a couple of short points, as we are going to explore the topic of forgiveness in some depth over the course of a few future posts.
Jesus’ forgiveness of others was not based on the severity of the wrong done to Him; in other words, a person cannot do something so bad that we are released from our responsibility to forgive them. We often do that don’t we? “Hey, what that guy did was really, really bad; I just can’t forgive that!” Just remember that our Lord had been mocked, beaten, spit upon, and ultimately killed, yet He still uttered those words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Jesus’ forgiveness of others was not based on how much they did our did not deserve it. Many people have done things that, in our human mind set, are not worthy of forgiveness. We all have done things that, in the mind set of a perfect and holy God, are not worthy of forgiveness. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and “There is none righteous, no not one,” come to mind here. Despite our unworthiness, Jesus has extended grace to us all, and we likewise should extend grace to all.
Jesus set the perfect example of grace and forgiveness, and if we want to grow and become Christlike we need to follow that example. As we work our way through this topic we will put legs on this idea and make it practical in our lives.