Summary: This sermon is part of a series looking at four qualities of a disciple of Christ and focuses on forgiveness.

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Disciples Are Like Their Teacher … They Forgive

Genesis 50:15-21; Matthew 18:25-35

I stumbled upon a copy of a letter that I had written back in college. It’s somewhat funny that I should find it now, because it tells of an event in my life that … well, I think I’ll just read it aloud to you.

September 13

Dear Joy,

I know that I have already apologized to you and that you have forgiven me. I can’t tell you how awful I feel about the whole incident, and I want to make sure there are no questions in your mind about what happened. I treasure our friendship too much for there to be any barriers between us.

I would just like to say a few things about what happened, though. For starters, yesterday was just a very bad day. I was having to make sure that everything was set up for the concert, and meanwhile the only thing that was going through my head was that I have to write two papers in less than two weeks.

Lots of little things happened that day to drive me crazy, too. Nothing seemed to be going right! Do you know how sometimes you wish that you could relive a day? Well, yesterday was one of those days.

I would not normally wish that unless something else happened, though. No matter how rotten I have been treated during a day, I would not relive it except for this: it effected my friends. Yesterday was such a day. Of all the things that happened yesterday, one terrible event sticks in my mind:

Time out. Let me interrupt for a moment. I’ve read much of the letter, and I would like for you to help me a little. What do you think happened? How many of you think the two of us were supposed to study for a test and I did not show up, and therefore she failed it? Do you all know Joy? How do you know she is much smarter than me?

All right. How many think that Joy and I were supposed to go on a date and that I canceled at the last minute because Meg Ryan was in town and wanted to go out with me? How many think I am dreaming? Put your hands down!

Could it be possible for me to forget Joy’s birthday and also forget to get her the new Gardner-Webb sweatshirt I had promised to buy her? How many of you think that Joy and I got into a fight; I said something I shouldn’t have; Joy got mad at me and said she would never speak to me again? OK.

Do you want to know what happened? Listen: Of all the things that happened yesterday, one terrible event sticks in my mind: Hitting you smack upside the head with a piece of ice. That’s it? Were you expecting something else?

I had just spilled a drink (again, after dropping pizza on my pants twice, and numerous other things). I just was throwing some ice out of a cup, when I hit you. I can laugh at myself when my clumsiness effects me, but not when I hurt someone else. Thank you so much for being understanding, and I hope you will indeed forgive me.

Love in Christ,


Well, the story does have a happy ending. Joy did forgive me, after all it was an honest mistake. Most of us would do the same, too. But you see forgiveness goes beyond accepting apologies from those who make an honest mistake and hurt you.

Earlier in the service I read some scripture about Joseph and his brothers. Joseph’s brothers had been jealous of Joseph practically all of their lives. Their father Jacob loved Joseph more than them and even made him a cool coat. Joseph had a few dreams, too, that made his brothers furious. Joseph said to them, “I dreamed last night that we were in a field and that you bowed down to me on your knees.” And on another occasion, “Last night I dreamed that the sun, the moon, and the stars bowed down to me.”

It was at this point that Joseph’s brothers pretty much wanted to kill him. They decided instead to sell Joseph into slavery and tell their father Jacob that he had been devoured by a wild animal. Jacob was horrified while his son Joseph was in a difficult situation making the adaptation from being adored by all to being a slave.

Remember the dreams? Because of a gift of interpreting dreams, Joseph went from being a slave to became on officer of Pharaoh and governor of the land. Joseph knew that a famine was about to occur which would last seven years and was made responsible for distributing grain. During the famine, it so happened that Joseph’s brothers were desperately in need of food. They came before Joseph and bowed to him requesting food, not knowing that he was their brother. Remember the dreams? What was Joseph’s response?

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