As we have worked our way through the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer that more appropriately would be titled as The Disciple’s Prayer, we have seen questions regarding forgiveness. Forgiveness is confusing in the wake of current events show horrible acts from terrorist groups. How can we forgive those who do such horrible things?
To look at this more, we will look at a parable Jesus gave in . Just as the Lord’s Prayer was in response to John’s question, this parable is a response to a question of how many times we are to forgive.
Jesus is answering in hyperbole by giving a large number. He doesn’t actually mean 77 times, what he means is that we forgive as many times as we need to forgive. But when we look at terrorism, many think that forgiveness would mean to forget what happened, and so they don’t chose forgiveness. Instead we see those who get offended. If we are punched in the face, we can forgive. But if that same person approaches us the next day, we cannot forget and we can respond defensively due to the past aggression.
Jesus is relating the magnitude of debts in the parable with the magnitude of debt with both God and others. The debt we have against God is so large that there is nothing we can do to pay back and be even. And with repentance our Master will forgive us. But there is a stipulation. In the small debts and grievances between us (relative to our grievances between us and God) we are to give the same forgiveness to others. If we hold back the forgiveness with others God can hold back his forgiveness to us.
Forgiveness does not happen to try and fix some bond or situation. That might happen. But forgiveness needs to happen so that the offense does not come between you and God. We are not to welcome offense, allow offense to happen, or justify offense just to facilitate some sort of forgiveness. But when offenses do happen, forgiveness should be most powerful response that will allow healing in ourselves.
So we read in the Lord’s Prayer in “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” We now see some context of this tough statement. We won’t let offenses come between us and God.
God we need your forgiveness. We long for your forgiveness. We are thankful that by surrender to you means your forgiveness. And we will extend forgiveness to others who sin against us because we don’t want anything to come between you and us.
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (ESV)
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. (ESV)
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (ESV)
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.” (ESV)