Summary: The Two Debtors (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Matthew chapter 18 verses 21-35.
“Forgiveness is a marvellous idea;
Until you are the one who has to do it”.
• Old Joe was dying.
• For years he had been at odds with Bill, formerly one of his best friends.
• Wanting to straighten things out,
• He sent word for Bill to come and see him.
• When Bill arrived,
• Joe told him that he was afraid to go into eternity with such a bad feeling between them.
• Then, very reluctantly and with great effort,
• Joe apologized for things he had said and done.
• He also assured Bill that he forgave him for his offences.
• Everything seemed fine until Bill turned to go.
• As he walked out of the room, Joe called out after him,
• “Bill, remember, if I get better, this doesn’t count!”
• The two brothers who went to their rabbi to settle a longstanding feud.
• The rabbi got the two to reconcile their differences and shake hands.
• As they were about to leave,
• He asked each one to make a wish for the other in honour of the Jewish New Year.
• The 1st brother turned to the other and said, “I wish you what you wish me.”
• At that, the 2nd brother threw up his hands & said, “See, Rabbi, he’s starting up again!”
In contrast to those two stories:
Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a “light bulb”;
• It took a whole team of men;
• 24 straight hours to put just one together.
• The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb,
• He gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs.
• Step by step he cautiously watched his hands,
• Obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work.
• You’ve probably guessed what happened by now;
• The poor young fellow dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs.
• It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb.
• Finally, tired and ready for a break,
• Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs.
• He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one.
• That’s true forgiveness.
• One more personal and meaningful example:
• Corrie Ten Boom writes:
• “From the crest of the hill we saw it, like a vast scar on the green German landscape:
• A city of low grey barracks surrounded by concrete walls;
• On which guard towers rose at intervals.
• In the very centre, a square smokestack emitted a thin grey vapour into the blue sky.
• The name of this prison camp "Ravensbruck!” (notorious women's extermination camp).
• “It was the third night as we were getting ready to lie down again under the sky;
• When the order came to report to the processing centre for new arrivals.
• A ten-minute march brought us to the building.
• We inched along a corridor into a huge reception room.
• And there under the harsh ceiling lights we saw a dismal sight.
• As each woman reached a desk where some officers sat;
• She had to lay her blanket, pillowcase,
• And whatever else she carried onto a growing pile of these things.
• A few desks further along;
• She had to strip off every scrap of clothes,
• Throw them onto a second pile,
• And walk naked past the scrutiny of a dozen S.S. men into the shower room.
• Coming out of the shower she wore only a thin prison dress and a pair of shoes.
• Nothing more.”
Corrie ten Boom never forgot that night or the nightmare that followed:
• Altogether, ninety-six thousand women died at Ravensbruck,
• One of whom was her sister Betsie.
• Just two days after her sister's death,
• Corrie was miraculously released and returned home.
• In 1959 Corrie revisited Ravensbruck;
• And learned that her release had been the result of a clerical error.
• One week later all women her age had been sent to the gas chambers.
In the years immediately following the end of the war:
• Corrie carried the healing message of the gospel throughout Europe,
• Encouraging people to replace the bitterness & hate of war with God's forgiveness & love.
• Nowhere was this message needed more desperately than in Germany.
• & it was while she was speaking there that Corrie's faith was unexpectedly put to the test.
• Corrie writes:
• “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;