Thursday, September 14, 2017

forgive another time Matthew 18

Jesus made a promise that has given me great deal of hope over the years—wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in my name I am with them (Matthew 16:20). As a young person growing up as a Roman Catholic this verse gave me a sense of God's power and presence that was so much bigger than just one group of Christians.

I was told by many that God was limited. Some mistakenly told me that only one church, namely their church, was the real church. But Jesus' words spoke of God's limitless presence for all believers who gather in Jesus' name. Jesus' promise went way beyond the walls of one congregation or the limits of one man made denomination. Jesus words are trustworthy and true—he is present—present with us when we act together and gather together as believes. God is with us just whether it's 2 or 3 or hundreds or thousands or more gathering together in Jesus name.

Here's the rub to the story. Jesus was talking about forgiveness when he made this promise to be present with just two or three people. And Peter stepped up with a question. He was asking just how far this call to forgive was supposed to go. Jesus was talking about forgiving those in the church who hurt us. And this is the spot when Peter asked Jesus just how far this forgiveness business was supposed to go,
“Lord, how many times am I supposed to forgive a brother – a member of the church—a member of your family—a member of your body who hurts me? Seven?
Seven sounded like a lot to old Pete. And it sure seems like a lot to me to. But Jesus said no.
Seven, try again. Try seventy times seven.

So Peter comes to Jesus with this question about forgiveness and Jesus tells a story about a king who could forgive a servant of great debt—meanwhile that same servant was unable to forgive. Jesus was making a point about forgiveness – that it's a ministry for all of us. Because everyone of us has been done wrong Jesus invites us to hear both the promise of forgiveness that we need as sinner and the challenge to forgive as we have been forgiven.

I think Peter was looking for a limit to how much forgiving he had to do. Instead he got a promise of great forgiveness to be found as he forgives.
Peace, and thanks for reading. John