Meditations on Matthew 18:21–22

Transcript of Midweek Meditations podcast episode aired on Wednesday, 16th September 2020.

Most of us, if not all of us, have experienced hurt caused by another person. The experience of hurt varies from person to person. I want to recognise there are more complicated and serious cases of hurt that our reflections today will not be immediately appropriate. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in, a broken and sinful world.

Yet, even in our broken and sinful world, the Christian is called to forgive and reconciliation, especially between members of our own family and the family of God. It’s not easy. But we’re called to it. Maybe you find yourself in the same position as Peter who comes to Jesus and said:

Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?

Matthew 18:21 (NIV)

Forgiving a person seven times is pretty generous, isn’t it? Yet, as Jesus teaches about life in his kingdom, life for the Christian, he raises the bar:

I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 18:22 (NIV)

Ouch! I’ll be the first to admit how hard and uncomfortable this is. Believe me, I’ve held my fair share of grudges. But Jesus is holding up the expectations for his kingdom. This is the culture of Jesus’ kingdom.

But this expectation isn’t merely a command given to Jesus’ disciples, this expectation is a demonstration of God’s love for us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 (NIV)

In Jesus’ death, God demonstrates his mercy and provides forgiveness for our sins. Because of this, Jesus expects us to show mercy and forgive others, even when they sin against us. The penalty of our sin against God is death. Yet God forgives and forgets our sin; in response, Jesus asks, how could we not forgive others for their sin? Jesus taught us “if [we] do not forgive others their sins, [our Heavenly] Father will not forgive [our] sins.” (Matthew 6:15)

Jesus calls us to live radically different to the world we live in, we’re called to be people who forgive. We’re called to be agents of God’s mercy, just as he demonstrated his mercy to us. Is there someone you need to forgive today?

Let’s pray.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love and mercy towards us. Be our help and strength as we seek to forgive others as you forgave us in Jesus. Holy Spirit, help and remind us daily of the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus demonstrated to us by his death on the Cross for us. May we show the world the great mercy you make available through your Son, Jesus Christ.

In his name we pray, amen.

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