Summary: Part 15 of Sermon on the Mount Series, looks at our need to forgive.
Her name was 66730, or at least that was the name she went by. Her father had died in a German Concentration camp as did her sister. Her freedom, her dignity, her humanity had been stripped away by those who imprisoned her and yet she survived. They had robbed her of everything she ever possessed but they couldn’t rob her of the one who possessed her, Jesus. She saw every day in Ravensbruck as a chance to minister to someone more needy then herself, and then one day she was released. As suddenly as she had become a prisoner she was freed, and her solitary aim was to minister to others. When the war was over she began traveling and speaking sharing her Savior and the vision that He had given her. And then one day, something happened, something that shook her to the very center of her being, why don’t you let me read you her account of what happened, oh you probably wouldn’t know her as 66730, you would be more apt to know her as Corrie ten Boom.
"It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there, the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsy’s pain blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message Fraulein, " he said. "To think, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendall the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man: was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that this worlds healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."
One of the scariest parts of the Lord’s prayer is Matthew 6:12 & 14 & 15 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. & 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
If you’ve ever prayed this have you ever stopped to listen to what you are saying? You are asking God to forgive you in exactly the same way that you forgive people who have done you wrong, no more no less.
Many people have the same concept of God as the German poet Heinrich Heine. Heine was on his death bed and his priest told him that God could forgive his sins to which the poet responded "Of course God will forgive me; that’s His job." Well according to this particular portion of scripture, he doesn’t have to.
This one concept was so important that Christ not only mentioned it in the Lord’s prayer he went back to comment on it. He literally uses three time more words to define what he said then he used to say it.
When you get to this part in the Lord’s prayer you are in effect saying, "Lord if there is someone whom I haven’t forgiven then don’t forgive me." Ouch! Forgiveness is tough. There is no doubt about it and you may have been hurt by someone in ways that I can’t comprehend.
Too often today we are shown that the only way to bring about closure in these instances is to seek revenge, retaliation. But that doesn’t bring about closure. You see the news about some of the people who were allegedly abused in the Shelbourne boys school. They’ve taken their cash and spent it on dope and then blamed the government for giving them what they wanted."
A Chinese proverb says "Before starting down the road to revenge dig two graves" You don’t just forgive for the other person you need to forgive for yourself.