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So We Forgive One Another September 14, 2014

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Matthew 18:21-35

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

September 14, 2014

 

Focus:  God forgives our sins.

Function:  That the hearers will forgive one another.

Structure:  Jewel.

 

So We Forgive One Another

 

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been in the situation where you’re stuck trying to forgive someone again?  Maybe it’s your spouse, your child, your parent, your friend, your coworker, your pastor.  Here they go again.  Why should I forgive them this time?

You’ve heard it before, right?  “I promise mom, I’ll stop lying.”  “I’m sorry honey, I won’t touch the bottle again.”  “I’m sorry I was running late again.”  “I promise, it’ll never happen again.”

If you think about your life for just a few seconds, I’m sure you can all come up with an example.  An example of a relationship in your life that’s like a broken record, that’s like the dog who returns to his vomit.  Same ol’ mistake.  Here we go again.

Today’s texts are all about forgiveness.  And as we look at them, I want you to keep your broken relationships in mind.  I want you to think about the deep hurts you have felt.  The people who are hard to forgive.

We start with Joseph in the book of Genesis.  Joseph, the great grandson of Abraham.  One of twelve brothers, the sons of Jacob, of Israel.  This is one of the most well-known Old Testament accounts.  Movies have been made, musicals and plays have been produced.  But we revisit it again today.

Dad had four wives, and he had a favorite, Rachel.  And for years, she couldn’t have children.  So Jacob had sons with his other wives.  Ten of them in total.  And eventually, Rachel became pregnant, and she gave birth to Joseph.  Dad’s favorite wife, dad’s favorite son.  Joseph’s brothers noticed.  They were jealous, they were angry, and they despised and hated their brother for it.

And then they saw an opportunity.  One day, they were alone in a field some distance from home.  They saw a way to get rid of him for good.  But as they plotted to kill him, the eldest, Reuben, took a stand.  He proposed leaving him in a pit instead.  Now what would have happened to him in the pit, who would know?

But then a different opportunity arose.  The brothers saw a caravan and decided they could make some money off of Joseph and get rid of him at the same time.  What a plan!  And so they did, they sold him into slavery.  And so for a number of years, Joseph was a slave and a prisoner.  He endured many things because of his brothers’ treachery.

But through it all, God was with him.  God blessed him everywhere he went and in everything he did.  And after years, Joseph finds himself second in command over the nation of Egypt.

And then we come to their reunion.  Then we see Joseph and his brothers together again.  And now that dad is dead, the brothers fear for their lives.  They fear revenge.  They fear that the evil and wickedness they did to him will be repaid to them.

But what does Joseph do?  What does he do to the men who wanted to kill him, who caused him all kinds of grief?  He forgives them.  He loves them.  And he provides for them.  “’So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

Then we come to our gospel reading today.  Then we come to Peter and we see his feelings.  “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  You see, Peter knows about relationships.  He knows that when two sinners are together, bad things happen and we get hurt.  And so he thinks he’s taking the high road.  He thinks that by forgiving his brother multiple times, he’s doing great.  But there’s a limit to forgiveness, right?

Jesus’ answer is debated.  What’s His response?  Some have argued that He said 77 times.  Others say that He said 70 times 7, which would be 490.  Whatever number you want to go with, the point is the same.  The point is that you keep forgiving.  Whether it’s 77 or 490, what are the odds that you can count that high in a single relationship, let alone all of your relationships.  You’ll lose count, and so you’ll just have to keep forgiving.

And Jesus elaborates by telling a parable.  A king decides to settle all of his outstanding accounts.  So servants are brought to him one at a time.  Eventually, one is brought before him that owes him 10,000 talents.  He couldn’t pay it.  There was no way.  So the king ordered for him and his family to be sold to pay back some of the debt.  But he begged, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.”

The king had mercy, he forgave the debt, all of it.  And the servant is thrilled and goes out and what’s he do next?  He finds one of his servants who owed him money, 100 denarii.  And he demanded payment.  And when the servant couldn’t pay, he threw him in prison.

When the king’s other servants saw this, they reported it to the king.  Outraged, he summoned the wicked servant and, after reprimanding him for not sharing the forgiveness, he threw him in prison as well.

There’s a few things I want to point out with this parable.  You already know what a denarius is.  The New Testament mentions it many times, and even defines it in a couple of places.  It’s a day’s wage.  A talent is equal to 6000 denarii.  Think about that for a second.

Now let’s translate it into numbers you’ll recognize.  According to research, the average American makes $40,000 a year.  That would make for $160/day.  Let’s call that the day’s wage, the denarius.  So someone owes you $16,000.  That’s a new car, that’s a year of tuition for college.  That’s a fairly normal debt, right?

But the servant owed the king 10000 talents.  1 talent is 6000 denarii, so 10000 talents is 60,000,000 denarii.  The servant owed the master 60 million days wages.  That’s 164,000 years of pay.  Or to use our average American from before, $9.6 billion.

The king forgave a massive debt, an impossible debt.  You’re not coming up with 164,000 years wages anytime soon.  It’s not going to happen.  You’ve dug a hole so deep there’s no getting back out.  And yet, the king, God our Father, has forgiven that debt.  He’s rescued you from the pit of sin and death.

And now you go out, debt free, sins forgiven.  And you find someone who owes you a debt.  And when they ask for your forgiveness, you withhold it.  You don’t forgive them, despite the overwhelming forgiveness you just received.

This is what we see in the Lord’s Prayer.  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Have you ever stopped to think about those words?  Have you ever stopped to think about what you’re praying for, what you’re asking God for?  God, forgive me as I forgive others.

If you’re holding a grudge against your spouse or your neighbor or whoever, you might want to think twice before you pray the Lord’s Prayer.  You might want to think twice before asking God to forgive you the same way.

That’s the lesson in our texts today.  As God forgives us, so we forgive one another.  There’s nothing you can do to me, there’s nothing I can do to you that’s beyond forgiveness.  Christ set the bar, He made the example in His death on the cross.  He’s the reason the King forgives our 10000 talents of debt.  We can’t get out on our own, but we don’t have to, because the King had pity on us.  He forgave us our debt.

And so as we leave the King’s presence, we take that forgiveness, that rejoicing and thrilled feeling, and we share it with the world.  We forgive our sibling, we forgive our teacher or our boss.  And if they do it again, we forgive them again.

Jeremiah tells us what that looks like, why we can continue to forgive.  He says:

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

 

How incredible is that?  The all-powerful, all-knowing God is capable of forgetting our sins.  He not only forgives them, He forgets them.  That’s how far gone your sins are because of Christ.  They’re gone and they’re never coming back.  So rejoice in that.  Celebrate the forgiveness of God in your life.  So the next time you’re struggling to forgive someone, whether it’s a new sin against you or one they just keeping doing, look to your King, look to the debt that you’ve been forgiven.  And then go, forgive others as Christ has forgiven you.

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