Forgive to be forgiven
Read: Matthew 18:21–35
Blanks: servants, pay, patient, patient, prison, pay
(2) Jesus talks about forgiveness a lot.
And Peter knew about it.
So he tried to forgive a friend.
But it was difficult, especially when he was mad at someone.
But often, as a matter of fact, he didn’t want to forgive that person.
(2) He wanted a revenge.
He wanted to get rid of this person from his life.
So he was wondering:
“How many times do I need to forgive before a revenge?”
How many times is enough?”
Then he thought about it all night.
Then Peter thought that 7 seemed a good number.
You know, 7 seemed a very Biblical number:
(3) God created the universe in 6 days and rested on 7th day.
God had asked them to keep the Sabbath holy.
And that is the 7th day: (Lev 23:1-3)
God asked them to keep the Sabbath year.
That is the 7th year: (Lev 25:1-7)
God had asked Jewish people to celebrate 7 different feasts.
God had asked Israelites to celebrate the feast of Passover (Lev 23:4-5) and the feast of Weeks (Lev 23:15-22) for 7 days.
(3) Elisha told the military commander Naaman to be dipped in the Jordan River seven times to be healed. (2 Kings 5:10)
And after that, he was healed.
(3) God designed a menorah to be placed in the temple.
This menorah has 7 branches.
And this lampstand was supposed to signify that God shines God’s light into this world.
And so, 7 seems like a good number.
Maybe 7 is a number of completion in the Bible.
But then some teacher said three times would be enough.
But Peter knew better.
He doubled the number and more.
And Peter thought that with this number, Jesus might be happy.
So Peter came to Jesus ask something like this:
“You know, it is difficult to forgive another person.
How many times do I need to forgive before a revenge?
Is seven times enough?”
Jesus was like:
I am glad you are trying.
But in terms of forgiveness, seven is not a good number.
(3) Seventy seven may be a good number.
Yeah, why don’t you forgive seventy seven times?”
Jesus was not asking Peter to be abused by his friends.
But Jesus was asking Peter not to have a heart of resentment.
Nelson Mandela also said:
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
He also learned that in order to live well, he need to be free from any resentment even though some people put him in prison unfairly.
Then in order to help Peter understand, Jesus told this story to explain how many times God forgave Peter.
You know, Peter also sometimes sinned against God.
Peter also made mistakes.
But God was forgiving him over and over.
And Peter forgot about that or didn’t understand.
So Jesus started to teach that in order to be forgiven, he must forgive.
Jesus told this kind of story:
(1) Once upon a time, there was a very generous king.
People loved to come and borrow his money.
But some people have never paid back.
So, this king proclaimed a date.
And before this date, everyone should pay back their debts.
Then, everybody came to pay their debts.
Then a man had come.
He owed the king many millions of dollars.
And he was not ready to pay back now.
So, the king ordered to sell him, his wife, his children and all he had to repay the debt.
(3) Then this man asked the king:
Be patient with me.
Wait for me.
I will pay it all back.”
Then the king changed his mind
He was sorry for him.
So, he canceled his debt and let him go.
(2) The king felt good about it.
This guy was thankful.
This was a great day for him.
He got a new chance in life.
But as soon as he got out, he saw his friend who owed him a few dollars.
Then suddenly, he grabbed his friend and demanded:
“When are you going to pay me back?
Pay up now!”
His friend said the same:
Be patient with me.
Wait for me.
I will pay all back.”
(3) But he was mad at his friend.
And he put his friend in prison.
(3) When the king heard about this, he called this man in and said:
This was a great day for you.
I forgave all your debt.
I feel good about it.
You feel good about it.
But how could you treat your friend like that, today?
Don’t you think you should have forgiven your friend who owed you so little?
Then this could be a good day for him, too.
But you know what?
You ruined it.
Now we are going back to our original story.
You should also pay back all my money all over again.”
Then, the king put him in prison to be punished.
(5) So now two persons are in prison.
He put himself in prison.
Before that, he put his friend in prison.
Now he and his friend were in prisons.
So no one could work to pay back any money.
This happens when people don’t forgive each other.
This happens because people could not forgive their friend like the king.
(3) You know, in this story, the king is God.
God forgives, whenever we ask.
And God asks us to forgive others like God.
(3) Telling this story, Jesus is encouraging Peter to forgive.
Jesus is saying that as he forgives, he will continually experience God who forgives him.
God is patient with him.
And God asks him to be patient with his friends.
That is, God forgives us and at the same time, asks us to forgive.
Jesus knew that Peter also made mistakes or sin against God sometimes.
Jesus knew that Peter also need to be forgiven.
(3) In fact for his sin, Jesus the innocent Son of God would die on the cross, for him.
Then his sins and mistakes would be forgiven forever.
This is the price that Jesus would pay for Peter.
And Peter could not pay him back.
It is just too much.
(3) Jesus is asking him to follow him.
If he wanted to follow Jesus, he needed to forgive everyone and bless everyone.
When he tries to live like that, Jesus gives him the Holy Spirit so that he could live like this, forgiving others.
Then God would continually use him to help many others to forgive and be free.
Now Jesus is asking us to forgive and live like God.
This is the merciful way of God.
This is the way of Jesus.
Jesus, thank you for forgiving us.
May we live like you.
In your name, we pray.