Summary: Jesus has once and for all paid the price for our sin. But we daily continue to commit sin. Jesus’ once and for all forgiveness is applied daily—just like our forgiveness many times has to be applied daily.
Many of you are familiar with the story of Corrie ten Boom. Corrie ten Boom was a godly Christian woman who was Holocaust survivor. After the Germans invaded her home country of Holland, she hid Jews in her house to keep them from being sent to the concentration camps. After risking her life doing that for a couple of years, an informant finally turned her in to the Germans. They arrested her and eventually sent her and her sister Betsie to the horribly brutal Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. You know the horror stories of the German concentration camps. Both Corrie and Betsie were brutalized. To the point that Betsie physically couldn’t handle it any more. She died in that horrible camp at the hands of her brutal captives. Before she died, Betsie told Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Corrie was eventually released on Christmas Day of 1944. She spent the rest of her life writing books and travelling the world speaking on God’s love and grace and mercy and forgiveness. But then there came a time in her life where God pressed her words about forgiveness into action. Listen to what she wrote about that day: “It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a 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, Betsie’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 that, 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 Bloemendaal 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 prayed, 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 the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself. ” Is there a more difficult thing that Jesus tells us to do? Is there a more difficult thing to do than forgive those who have wronged us? That’s why Jesus tells us to pray about it. We’ve been looking at the Lord’s Prayer over the past several weeks. And now we get to a part that most of us just want to skip over. The part where we praise God for who He is—we’re OK with that. The part where we recognize that Jesus is in charge and we pray for His will—that’s OK too. We really like the part where we get to ask for stuff. The part where we get to ask for our daily bread. But this part… can’t we just skip over this part? I mean it would be great if it just stopped with the first part of verse 12. It would be great if it just stopped with us asking God to forgive our sins. As a matter of fact, that’s where we stop most of the time, isn’t it? “Lord, here are all the areas that I have failed you today.” “Forgive me for those things.” Let’s just stop there. But we can’t. Because Jesus said, “after this manner therefore pray ye.” “Pray like this.” “This is the way you’re supposed to pray—forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This is one of the difficult statements of Jesus. It’s difficult for us to hear and it was difficult for His disciples to hear. That’s why Jesus has to go on to unpack it in a couple of places. The first place was immediately in verse 14-15. Look there with me: