70 x 7 = Infinity

Read: Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness is one of the key parts of the gospel message.  Jesus gave up his life on the cross so that each of us could have the opportunity to receive his grace and forgiveness for the sins in our lives.  Many times in scripture we are instructed to forgive others in the same way that God has forgiven us through his son Jesus Christ.

So why is it so hard to forgive when it’s our turn?  Our human nature wants to get revenge or payback instead of letting someone walk away scot-free, and yet that is what Jesus offers to us.  In Matthew 18 Peter comes up to Jesus to find out more about this unbelievable offer of grace. He asks how many times he should forgive someone who commits an offense against him.  “Up to 7 times?” Peter asks.

Jesus then responds by saying, “not seven times, but seventy times seven.”  In some Bible translations this is changed to read 77 times which is nowhere close to 490 times (70 x 7).  But the number itself can cause us to lose sight of the teaching here about forgiveness. Jesus is basically saying forgive as long as there is something to forgive. Forgive to infinity and beyond.  After all, that is what Jesus offers to us.

After this conversation with Peter, Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant.  A story that ends with the phrase, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” Perhaps no command of Jesus is more challenging and yet freeing than this command to forgive others.  Because of Jesus we can be free from the weight of sin, and Jesus wants us to extend that kind of grace to others. It may not always be easy, but it is very freeing when we follow the ways of Christ.

Make it Personal:  Who comes to your mind when you hear about the need to forgive someone?  Read Matthew 18 this week and ask Jesus to help you extend grace to that person.  Forgiveness is the key to opening the door to restored relationships and freedom in our lives.

Have a wonderful week Everyone, Pastor Glen Rhodes