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?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
In answering Peter’s question about forgiveness, Jesus tells a story to illustrate the truth he wants the Disciple, and us, to understand in his brief response, “not 7 but 70 times.”
He tells of a servant, who owes his King an enormous debt, pleading with his Sovereign to give him time and he will repay the debt. Knowing that such is impossible the King in an act of great mercy forgives the debt.
Now one would think this was such an overwhelming and undeserved act of mercy by the King the servant in like manner would extend mercy to any and all who might in any way be indebted to him. Not! The first person he sees who owes him a few dollars he has him tossed into prison, even though he cries for mercy.
It was a case of forgotten mercies. He forgot, as one writer puts it, “our first task is not to forgive but to but to learn to be forgiven.” This is just what the servant in the story failed to do, and Peter was inadvertently speaking to this truth in his question to Jesus. Jesus made Peter face this truth in his reply. What Jesus tells Peter is, “There is no need to ask that question if you know the Father’s forgiveness, there is no number.” Peter lost sight of God’s forgiving mercy and grace.
Every time you and I fail to be forgiving we have lost sight of the Cross, we have forgotten God’s great mercy and love in Christ Jesus, the sent Son, Savior and Lord. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a Kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever Amen.”
To be a Christian C.S. Lewis wrote, “means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in us.” And how can we do that? Lewis gives us the answer in these words, “Only, I think, by remembering where we stand by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” clearly remembering, we sinners are not forgiven because we repent but because Christ made good for us. Forget not his mercies.
~Pastor Jack Matheis