Summary: In order to be forgiven we must be willing to forgive.
A Messiah Who Expects Us to Forgive
Text: Matt. 18:21-35
1. Illustration: A pastor finished his message early one Sunday, (and that pastor was not me) and he wanted to check his congregation’s understanding. So he asked, "Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?" There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up, "You have to sin." I suspect we don’t have a problem fulfilling that prerequisite. But Jesus reveals that another prerequisite for God to forgive is our willingness to forgive others.
2. He reminds us that...
a. We are forgiven of much
b. We are to forgive of much
c. Unless we forgive, we won't be forgiven
3. Read Matt. 18:21-35
Proposition: In order to be forgiven we must be willing to forgive.
Transition: We must realize that...
I. We Are Forgiven of Much (21-26).
A. How Often Should I Forgive
1. As Christians we must realize what we once were: sinners saved by grace. As such we must be willing to extend that grace to others.
2. Our text begins with Peter asking the question, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
a. It was Jewish tradition that you must forgive a person three times for the same offense.
b. Because true repentance should involve turning from sin, some later rabbis limited opportunities for forgiveness for a given sin to three times; Peter might have thought his offer of seven times was generous (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
c. Compared to Jewish tradition, it was generous and no doubt was based on Peter's growing understanding of Jesus' teaching and personal example of compassion and mercy.
d. Realizing that the Lord's graciousness was in marked contrast to the self-centered legalism of the scribes and Pharisees, Peter doubled their narrow limit for forgiveness and added one more time for good measure (MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
3. However, Jesus blows Peter's generosity out of the water when he says, “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
a. Peter was still thinking like the scribes and Pharisees and like fallen human nature is always inclined to think.
b. He was thinking in the measurable and limited terms of law, not the immeasurable and unlimited terms of grace.
c. Law keeps count; grace does not.
d. By seventy times seven He did not mean 490.
e. He simply picked up on Peter's number and multiplied it by itself and then by ten, indicating a number that, for all practical purposes, was beyond counting.
f. Record keeping is not to be considered, and a Christian with a forgiving heart thinks nothing about it.
g. He forgives the hundredth offense or the thousandth just as readily and graciously as the first—because that is the way he is forgiven by God.(MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 16-23).
h. Jesus was saying that the person doing the forgiving will do it as many times as are necessary (Horton, 387)