Summary: PENTECOST 17(A) - Forgivness comes from the heart: from the heart of our Lord and from the hearts of believers.
FORGIVENESS COMES FROM THE HEART
MATTHEW 18:21-35 - September 26,2004 - Pentecost 17
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26"The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,’ he begged, `and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32"Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
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Dearest fellow redeemed and saints in the Lord:
When we look at the Lord’s love, we discover an eternal love. We discover that the Lord’s love is an underserved love. Today we also see that the Lord treats us with love instead of anger; kindness instead of rage, forgiveness instead of revenge. And the fact is when we look at our Lord’s love for us we realize how true it is that he treats us as his children. God forgives our sins. This forgiveness that you and I receive from the Lord, comes from a divine heart that does not keep a record of wrongs. If we want to learn more about how much the Lord loves us and forgives us we will turn to PSALM 103:10-12: “God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us". That is forgiveness from the heart of our God.
That is also what our text, our thought, our theme for today is as we look at these words of Jesus to discover once again that FORGIVENESS COMES FROM THE HEART. I. From our Lord’s heart, and II. From believers’ hearts.
I. FORGIVENESS FROM OUR LORD’S HEART
You may remember the setting of our text from last week. Last week the Lord Jesus taught the disciples to go and seek the brother who had fallen away, and restore them back into God’s Kingdom. Today Peter comes with what is a seemingly innocent question. He was going to ask Jesus some more about forgiveness. Peter came to Jesus and asks, "Lord how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Peter wanted to know how often do I have to forgive? How many times can my brother sin against me that I still would forgive him or her. Peter suggests that he might even forgive seven times. In a sense Peter is being generous. For the strict Jewish rule said you only had to forgive someone three times. After three times you don’t have to worry about forgiving again. How absurd that sounds to us today. How absurd it is when the rules of men overcome the unconditional love of God. God did not keep track. God forgives.
Jesus explains that fact right away. Jesus says to Peter "I tell you not seven times, but seventy times seven " There are some translations have seventy-seven times. It makes no difference –the point is the same, keep on forgiving. The Lord says forgive, he says forgive seventy times seven or seventy-seven times. Jesus says you can’t keep track that long, but forgive as the Lord forgives with an unconditional love, not keeping track.