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hello good morning how you doing friends my name is alex I’m one of the pastors here if you’re visiting it’s really great to see you delighted that you’re here I’m just this is just a complaint so just take it for what it is uh my wife and kids just deserted me for the week they’re off in michigan you know and someone actually said to me in the first service what are you complaining about like that’s my dream being left alone in my house by myself like just just take that for the goodness it is but I’m I’m very extrovert so I have to spend a lot of time by myself now which is just as terrible as you you might think but on the plus side I did get to go uh to hang out in vail for a day just and get some skiing in and I went with a guy um who comes to south who shall remain nameless but his name is jd and he’s got this reputation that every time I say I’m going with him my wife will text me she’s like please don’t die um because you know he just yeah there’s some stuff so this is us on the edge of this corner that’s like a 20-foot just drop into just like this this mess of snow I I stood on the side and whacked my pole against it a few times just to show it who was boss but other than that I then skied around it and the safe route but but the fun part was as we’re on the next chair we’re looking back and he turns around he goes oh look there’s our cornice over there and the guy we were skiing with he looks at me says don’t call it our cornice it was your cornice you were the idiot that took us up there like we we we were no part of that and we we decided there was no forgiveness for leading us up there and yet when we get to today’s sermon maybe we have to forgive him because today we get to talk about forgiveness and I’m always aware whenever we open up this kind of thing it stirs up all kinds of emotions there are lots of like maybe triggers maybe instantly when I talk about forgiveness and and let me specify forgiveness towards other people not forgiveness from God there’s maybe a person that already floats into like view for you there’s there’s maybe a time in your life that instantly comes back maybe there’s a house that you still don’t drive past a business that you still don’t do business with because it can stir up all sorts of different things when we start talking about forgiveness and yeah it’s something that Jesus comes back to time and time again so if you have a text if you want to open it we’re in matthew chapter 18 verse 21 then peter came to Jesus and asked lord how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me up to seven times Jesus answered I tell you not seven times but 77 times and with some implication that he’s like yeah don’t count therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants as he began the settlement a man who owed him 10 000 bags of gold was brought to him since he was not able to pay the master order that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt at this the servants fell on his knees before him be patient with me he begged I will pay back everything the servants master took pity on him cancelled the debt and let him go but when that servant went out he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins he grabbed him and began to choke him pay back what you owe me he demanded his fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him be patient with me and I will pay it back but he refused instead he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt or when the other servant saw what had happened they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened then the master called the servant in you wicked servant he said I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you in anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could pay back all that he owed this is how my heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart in a mix mix in the mix of a story about choking and torture and debt and all of these different things what might Jesus be saying to us let us pray Jesus as we open up this emotional issue there’s a whole bunch of people that might be wounded by this God would you speak to us for those of us that need um affliction would you afflict us would you move us on in our journey for those of us that need comfort would you comfort us would you speak to your people in this community uh men so we’re in a series on the lord’s prayer open up sort of closing it off this week and really where we started was this this whole language about prayer this whole conversation about prayer in these things called the gospels these biographies of Jesus life start with some disciples some followers of Jesus that come to him and say lord teach us how to pray these are people that grew up in a religious culture they are used to prayer but something that they have seen in the way Jesus prays seems different to the way they have prayed and so essentially you might phrase their question as show us something that works how is it Jesus that when you pray it seems like a conversation it seems like a relationship when we pray it seems like it has this different vibe to it and and so the request is really we want to do this like you’re doing it we want this kind of interaction this is this moment where he teaches on prayer and it’s very traditionally what a jewish rabbi would do in the first century they would teach their students how to do the things that they did this is how many steps I take on a certain holy day this is how I teach people the kind of stories I use and yes of course this is the language I use when I talk to God and Jesus structure is pretty simple there is one opening you and I are invited to pray father we’re invited to bring that sense of relationship into a conversation into prayer and then these three like giant clauses this idea that God is holy separate distant big vast and yet he’s interested in this world and he’s bringing some kind of kingdom there’s maybe this suspicion there that that in the universe the only place where God’s will isn’t done is on earth that everywhere else it is and that’s the the one day that will change that you and I in fact when we follow the prayer get to play a part in that your kingdom come and your will be done and then we move to these petitions and it’s almost like somewhere the languages you’re going to be a part of this kingdom if you’re going to be a part of that you’re going to need some stuff just in everyday life you’re going to need some supplies you’re going to need daily bread which we get to ask for you’re going to need forgiveness and you’re going to need protection from evil there’s the the moment of like where we begin asking for stuff now if most of us are honest that’s probably the place we start when I have a conversation with God quite often I have a list of stuff that I need maybe it’s the health of someone I love maybe I’m short of finances for something maybe I I feel like my relationship with God is a little broken I quite often start in that language of please give me what I need and yet that’s not where Jesus starts is it important yes is it the whole thing no Jesus walks us through this kind of way of praying ethan who taught us last week said there’s a temporal nature to these petitions it talks about the the past and need for forgiveness it talks about the present and need for supplies for daily bread and talks about the future I need for God to deliver us in whatever happens and that’s definitely there and yet somehow Jesus in this incredible way also brings all of that into this like continual now he’s like I’ll journey with you I’ll be with you we’ll be connected together and I’ll constantly be doing these things are constantly be providing constantly be forgiving constantly be delivering it’s yes past it’s yes present it’s yes future but it’s also like in this wonderful ever present now Jesus language and prayer is essentially language of relationship you are invited in to a relationship that is conversational and that is good news but then we get to some of the tougher parts because a couple of weeks ago we just took one half of this verse forgive us our debts it’s language that we again may be used to we maybe have this sense that this there’s parts of us that aren’t up for show that we’re careful about who we reveal them to this is a quote from shakespeare’s macbeth stars hide your fires let not light see my black and deep desires it’s this reflection that’s somewhere in the core of most of us there’s parts that were like yeah I don’t know if I want people to know that or see that someone said the the most important conversation is the conversation that we have with God maybe in the morning maybe in the evening but someone else said maybe that’s not the most important conversation maybe the most important conversation is the one we have with ourselves right before that where we decide am I going to be honest in that conversation with God do I really think these black and deep desires that I can keep them undercover or am I going to come to that senior I’m going to open that up God you know but you also need me to know that you know that there’s a conversation there that reveals some of the inner workings which is important and yet it doesn’t stop there very inconveniently I would say Jesus takes this idea of forgiveness from debt and he very much uses that language of debt even though it’s clear he’s talking about something beyond just money he takes that and then he says as we also have forgiven at debtors Jesus takes the language of how we might be forgiven by God and then says it’s related to maybe even correlated to are you willing to forgive those around you and occasionally we see pictures of forgiveness in the world that are compelling we we love these stories this is a picture of the brother of a bosom I’m blanking on his last name but he he was shot by a police officer in his apartment and during the court case when the police officer was found guilty he asked the judge could I come out from behind the witness stand and could I give the convict a hug I want to tell her that I don’t wish evil on her I want to tell her that I don’t even think she should go to jail I want her to be forgiven there’s something about that picture that when we see it we are compelled by it we’re like that is an act beyond what I’m used to by human beings but while we might be compelled by it when we see it each of us would probably own in the moments where we feel hurt where we feel abused it is very difficult for us to get to that point it’s not as easy when we’re in that situation and yet Jesus will say as he unpacks his prayer for if you forgive other people when they sin against you your heavenly father will also forgive you but if you do not forgive others their sins your father will not forgive your sins somewhere there was a correlation out of all the things that Jesus chose to go back and emphasize he didn’t go back and emphasize the need for daily bread he didn’t even go back and emphasize God’s kingdom and how big and large it is he went back and emphasized oh by the way when I related how God might forgive you with how you might forgive others I wasn’t misspeaking it wasn’t an accident I’m gonna go back and emphasize no that that was real pay attention somewhere the two go together and again I find that deeply inconvenient my my question and I have many about this whole text is is why why should they be connected that doesn’t seem fair I’ve got a couple of phrases that I’ll just throw up for you that are that are maybe famous well-known cliches or quotes the one is this time heals all wounds is that true maybe physical ones I’m only talking maybe but certainly when we’re talking about like the wounds that people can do to you internally I don’t think time heals or wounds I actually think time makes them worse I think with with the right contemplation with with the right focus it can actually get harder I I think the years pass and and I can get more resentful I don’t think time heals or wounds and then how about this one to air is human to forgive divine alexander pope if forgiveness is divine why do I have to get involved in it why should I have to forgive why should I have to let stuff go I I I’m not forgiving I’m notably resentful I I carry things very deeply and somewhere we learn right very early on what it is to resent certain things we we know early on that there’s this like there’s this sense of people hurt us and we’ll talk about that a little bit more in a second why link forgiveness from God with forgiveness for others we know what it is to be hurt and we know when people have done us wrong I have this memory from back about five years old we were out for a nice walk all our family together and we find our way down to a stream and my brother’s about 14 months younger than me and we’re paddling away in this stream and and I remember he took his pants off to paddle the better um and I and I think I did the same thing because it just it just made sense and then he started dangling his pants in the water and I thought that’s an odd decision but again you gotta you got to be your own person and then he took his underpants off as well to again continue to paddle and then there was this glorious moment where the stream caught hold of them and I watched as they disappeared down the street like just flowing away and I remember thinking as an older brother this is gonna be awesome um this is like this sucker going to look so silly and I’m the big brother and it’s going to be great and then I remember this moment a little bit later on where I turned around and watched my parents putting him into a perfectly dry pair of pants and having this terrible realization those are mine those are my pants and again like the conversation that flowed between me and my parents was essentially he doesn’t have any clothes what do you want us to do he’s wearing your clothes and I was made to walk back to the car for a mile and a half in just my underwear and just by some kind of mischance there were all these like cool young couples hanging out by cars as we walked past and I feel I remember feeling deeply humiliated and deeply angry and I remember articulating something like I will never forgive them for this and then eventually I got to like 30 and I finally let it go but it took like it took a while there is this struggle with forgiveness and again like I think sometimes we as followers of Jesus can just take it for granted that you know that’s a good thing to do and maybe we have to step back a little bit and say why because I think we wouldn’t be the only ones that asked that question I think peter at the start of this text is really asking something like that Jesus has said forgive he’s talked about divine forgiveness and then said on some level that’s related to forgiveness of human beings as well and I think somewhere peter has a question about that then peter came to Jesus and asked lord how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me up to seven times peter wants to know how do I know when it’s enough how do I know when the game is over how do I know when I’ve won or at least when they’ve lost for those of you that grew up playing pong which is some of you I know some of you are that age bracket I I played it on the re-release this is this game that is very simple it just this little dot goes off the screen and it just boop boop and eventually like it gets past one of the little guys and paddles or whatever they’re called those little things on the side those lines and eventually that means you’ve scored appointment and it’s a very clear system there is a scoring that we are very aware of and somewhere peter’s question is how do I know when it’s over how do I know when they’ve hurt me enough how do I know when I can just stop playing this game how do I know when to just call it and say I’m done is it seven times Jesus and here’s the interesting thing peter treats forgiveness or understands forgiveness as a transactional transactional equation what’s the limit when do I know that it’s enough and he probably thinks he’s being really generous general jewish understanding at the time was that you could forgive or be expected to forgive up to three times three times was the maximum and it comes from this really weird place in the old testament in amos chapter one there’s this kind of cryptic passage that says this is what the lord says for three sins of gaza this city even for four I will not relent because she took captive whole communities and sold them to edom I will send fire on the walls of gaza that will consume her fortress the understanding was if if God doesn’t forgive four times why should we threes the maximum three is when we’re done and Jesus response is I tell you not seven times peter but 77 times peter comes to Jesus expecting like an avid boy expecting like peter you’ve always been the good disciple I’m so proud of you most people would say three and you said seven aren’t you a star you’re top of the class all of those different things you’re my favorite always have been and yet he doesn’t get that peter comes with an equation an equation that he thinks is just and fair and Jesus takes mathematics out of forgiveness Jesus takes mathematics out of forgiveness he says that’s not how this works now whenever we talk about something like forgiveness I just think it’s really important to talk about what we’re not saying because sometimes the language that we can hear is well Jesus said you have to forgive and therefore you have to pretend that there’s not something wrong so so this kind of passage can be used for people in an abusive situation to say you have to stay in that situation and that’s not what Jesus is saying you could never go back to being in business with that person you could never invite them back into the house again you could there’s plenty of consequences to broken relationships that this may not just give a simple answer to Jesus isn’t saying pretend everything is fine he’s not saying stand up in court and say they didn’t do some of the things that they did that isn’t what the conversation is here the conversation here is about our approach and our attitude to that person somewhere I would suspect in Jesus conversation in this passage he’s about to lead us through this story he’s about to invite us into he’s saying this is primarily for you if you have that posture of of hatred of unforgiveness eventually that’s damaging to you and I want more for you than that someone once said that the unforgiveness was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die it was this moment of like I’m gonna show you because you’ve hurt me and it just doesn’t work like that and Jesus in trying to understand the mathematics of forgiveness he leads him into as he so often does a story in the hebrew tradition a martial the story that that’s supposed to grasp you and make you work for it and then it gives you some kind of takeaway from it the fascinating thing about parables is so often they mirror parts of everyday life and someone once said you can’t pick which parable you happen to be living at the moment some of them may make sense to you but you can pick who you want to be in that parable because usually there’s an illustration that pushes you in one direction or another and in this parable that Jesus will give us there’s all of these different characters that come in there is a basilius a king who is sometimes called lord or curious and then there’s this process that he leads everyone through called cenari logan it’s a a settling of accounts we’re gonna make everything add up we’re gonna do what some of you do at the end of the month we’re going to take a checkbook and balance it with what the account looks like we’re going to figure out who owes what to whom and we understand that right because we at hard I think learn early on we’re all accountants we know how our relationships stack up with other people we have this system even if it’s just in the back of our minds where we say I know when you did something wrong to me and I know when I did something wrong to you and somewhere in the back of our minds we have a sense of where we stand maybe it’s the relationship with a spouse oh you didn’t do the dishes that time and I had to do them oh yeah but there was that time when you went on vacation and and I wasn’t allowed to come or had to stay home with the kids the
but the there’s these ways that like the things they add up and we have somewhere in the back of our minds like no this is this is where the relationship with it could be with a spouse it could be with an employer no I worked overtime and I didn’t get properly compensated there’s all of these different ways we have some kind of registry of where we stand I have a friend who’s a great businessman and he told me to manipulate this situation he I’d done him a favor and and I said to him you know it was it was a pleasure to do that he said I just want to say thank you I’m like no really it was nothing and he said why would you ever say that why would you say it was nothing it was something it took your time and it took your energy it cost you something so next time someone says to you uh thank you for doing that just say oh I know you do the same for me I know you’d do the same for me suddenly then they are the ones that owe you a favor and I’m like I don’t really want to live like that that sounds miserable but for for most of us even if we’re not that sort of overt about it there is a sense of where we stack up where we are and then also where we are with God maybe as well and of course this one if we’re honest has far less of the good marbles oh I did that oh seven times I can forgive seven times all of those different things it’s far less of those and then far more of these were like oh man that thing that really can stack up we have this sense of huh maybe you grew up in a form of religion that said you got to do some good stuff to outweigh the bad stuff fill that thing with as many of the clear marbles that are positive because then that outweighs the blue marbles that are negative maybe maybe we have that sense of how we relate to other people we also have that sense of how we relate to God and this king is about to settle his accounts and it’s clear in Jesus mind that the king reflects God God is settling his accounts in this story with his servants perhaps and this other character that comes in is is called a doulas a bond servant he has no ownership rights he simply serves the king and he has other servants around him that he will interact with so this servant you might say is really the centerpiece of the narrative that we’re about to explore how he reacts is or how he acts is how Jesus wants us to or what Jesus wants us to learn and then there’s this weird little technical term there is this conversation about a talent on or a talent a weight of about 75 pounds this is used as a unit of money or to describe a debt the 75 pounds imagine that a considerable weight and 175 pound talent probably of silver was worth about 1.4 million dollars in today’s terms so think about owing someone a talent you would owe them about 16 17 years of work to pay back that debt this is some of the language that will become important as we investigate this therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants this king is a wise king he wants things to be right he wants things to be fair he wants to keep close accounts and so he calls the servants in to say let’s make sure that we’re clear on who owes what to whom as he began the settlement a man who owed him 10 000 talents or bags of gold was brought to him this language is intentionally nonsensical it’s ridiculous 10 000 was the highest number that the greek system allowed you to count up to so it’s like today in today’s culture you might say something like yeah it’s infinity plus one no no it’s infinity plus two it’s like the the highest number you can get to it’s unimaginable debt it’s not that they they wanted to limit it it’s like there’s nowhere else to go this is as high as you can get and now we’re told this man has to repay 10 000 talents of gold is this debt repayable it’s not repayable it’s it’s an absurd amount of money there is no way a servant should be able to owe this amount of money and yet he does since he was not able to pay the master order that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt in this story it seems that this this king is interested in justice this king knows what is right this king knows who owes him what and he knows what to do when they fail to repay the debt and this is the closest we can get to justice will that ever repay the debt no but it will keep working towards it there’s this fascinating story about this banker during the the financial crisis in 2007 who through bad investments got himself into a whole bunch of trouble and was eventually thrown into jail he was put in jail for three years and then told when he came out he had to take a job and start paying off the debt which was six billion dollars can this man get a job other than maybe banking uh that that can pay six billion dollars no it doesn’t exist and he has to pay back apparently if you own the bank you just get the government to give you money and that covers it but but if you work at the bank you can get a six billion dollar debt and this man got landed with that and now he’s in that situation like when I’m out of jail I will work for the rest of my life and get nowhere in terms of repaying it this is where this servant is there are no options left for him other than the one that he takes at this the servant fell on his knees before him be patient with me he begged and I will pay back everything we asked can this servant repay the debt now we can ask does he believe he can pay back the debt does the king believe that he can pay back the debt he’s begging for more time and his time really what he needs essentially the language behind this macro fumio is is be patient be big hearted be generous and long serving don’t give up on me let me keep pursuing paying this and somehow I’ll find a way I’ll find a way to make this balance out somewhere I can add enough of the clear marbles that the blue ones won’t matter anymore somehow we can get back to neutral let me keep working and eventually we’ll be good that’s the language or the request of the servant be generous enough to let me keep pursuing this be generous enough to let me keep paying the six billion dollar debt off bit by bit the servant’s master took pity on him cancelled the debt and let him go cancel the debt and let him go what has the king done in this story has the king said no eventually this will will make sense this will add up on the accounting charts
is the transaction closed yes but is it closed in the typical way of we got back to zero no essentially what the king has done is is this he said we had a system for keeping track of what you owe I’m going to stop using that system and find a different system I’m not going to count anymore I’m not going to register the debt I’m not going to make you tick it off bit by bit I’m not going to be big-hearted in the sense of giving you years to figure this out I’m just going to stop I’m just going to let it go I’m just going to write it off has this servant or will this servant be transformed by these events what is the reaction of a servant who comes in expecting to be told no you will work the rest of your life your wife and kids will spend time they’ll be sold after somebody else what is the reaction to a man who comes expecting at best more time to pay a debt he can never repay and he’s now told no no we’re just closing this don’t think about adding clear marbles to the blue marbles just let it go what will this man’s reaction be but when that servant went out he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins it is a debt it’s three months salary something like that it’s it’s not unsubstantial but but it’s not what he owed it it’s it’s still there though it’s still justice it’s still right that that language there of he found one of his fellow servants is this word word hurisco it’s it’s not just he came across him it’s not he walked out from meeting with the king and he’s like oh yeah by the way you I I didn’t expect to see you but you owe me some kind of money it’s he went searching for him he went knocking door to door where is the guy that owes me this money this servant has this incredible thing done for him but in actual fact is not changed at all by that process he grabbed him and began to choke him saying pay back what you owe me he demanded and in Jesus beautiful symmetry the language that is used is exactly the same as is used between the king and this servant his fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him be patient with me and I will pay it back can this servant pay back what he owes absolutely can this servant bring it back to neutral can he look at the accounting and say man there’s there’s two of the blue things in there but but now I can add some and we can get it back to fair this servant can bring the narrative back to health this servant has the potential to to bring the story to its normal conclusion that that we’re back to zero and yet this servant is not where the first servant is not willing to give him the time to do that he is completely unchanged by what he has experienced by the generosity that he has experienced but he refused instead he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt when the other servants saw what had happened they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened what are those other servants it’s almost like this picture of like there’s like the servants discussing there and then there’s like a chorus of servants like five or six of them standing off to a side what what has captured their outrage is it that the second servant doesn’t owe something to the first servant and they’re like no you’ve got your accounts wrong they are fully aware of the debt there is a debt that is owed that is not unimportant what they are outraged by is this the first servant is treated in a way that has nothing to do with what he owes the first servant is treated by the king with nothing but grace and goodness the first servant has this experience where the king says to him we’re not counting anymore I’m gonna I’m gonna I’m gonna eat that debt I’m gonna handle it I’m gonna take care of it I will suffer the lust for it and the second servant he wants to keep this system in play with everybody who isn’t him he’s quite happy for the king to write off the debt he’s quite happy for that to be a thing but he’s like no with everybody else I’m still figuring out where we stand I’m still judging like where the situation is I’m still checking the balance sheets what captures the outrage of the servants is that on one hand he’s willing to accept this from the king and he’s not willing to offer it to anybody else in case like we’re unclear on this for those of you that are familiar with the word gospel Jesus is essentially talking about that thing there he’s talking about a king who who has people owe him stuff and says no we’re going to play by a different system now we’re not playing by the system of have you done enough good things to match the bad things we’re not playing by a system of lots of years to pay back the debt we’re moving into a new system that simply says we just stopped with this we just got rid of it we don’t do that anymore there’s a better way to do this now what the servants find outrageous is the fact that the man is has experienced that and he still wants to do this with everybody else then the master called the servants in your servant in you wicked servant he said I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you and then we’re told in his anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed is this about physical torture we’ve read these different pieces of language about like choking and we’ve read this thing about like he’s been now been tortured by the jailers possibly yes but let’s also say this there’s something else going on there when it talks about torture the the some level to which Jesus seems to be saying to continue to operate here is not good or healthy for you this servant this first center servant that is interacting with everybody he’s continuing to operate a system that is destroying him and he doesn’t know it yet he’s invited into a better way and he says no I I can’t live that with everybody else he doesn’t see the beauty of this new system that he’s being offered and then Jesus we go back to the end of the lord’s prayer for if you forgive other people when they sin against you your heavenly father will also forgive you but if you do not forgive others their sins your father will not forgive your sins is Jesus saying that to be forgiven you have to do forgiveness first that doesn’t seem to be what he’s saying at all he seems to be saying the two are correlated to the degree of you can pick which system you want to work under but you have to pick you can pick the system of debt you can pick the system of what you owe and to whom you owe it you can count constantly who owes me and who do I owe stuff to or you cannot but you can’t have this new system with God and continue to operate the old system with everybody else you’re either all in on counting or you’re completely out on counting and it seems like in Jesus language he’s like you have to decide which do you want which do you want it seems like somewhere there’s this idea that forgiveness leads to life and unforgiveness somewhere it leads to death somewhere that way of living just isn’t good for us I once got to work with this wonderful lady who I loved very deeply really cared for her but she was just she was so bound by all the things that had been done to her and I sat with her regularly as she sat with her arms on a wheelchair and she’s been stuck in this wheelchair for about five years now and she recounted over and over again all of the things that had been done to her and some of them were terrible and yet what I watched is as she sat there she would sit and she would grasp on the end of the chair and there was this slow transformation as I watched as these hands that grasped and just wrestled with everything that happened slowly began to take that shape permanently there was some physical change that was beginning to take shape as she relived everything that had happened to her as she counted all of the ways that in her mind the things were in her favor and everybody else had been in the wrong I watched as this system of counting destroyed who she was there is a way of living that we are invited into and it’s this thing of grace and goodness and forgiveness and there is this old way of living that we sometimes try and maintain and it is poisonous and damaging and deadly Jesus says this is how my heavenly father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart Jesus we want to make this transactional but Jesus insists in the end it is relational it’s relational this good news of the gospel is about bringing healing to relationships again does that mean that everything goes back to normal does that mean that again they move back into the house does that mean that you start the business up again after they destroyed it it doesn’t necessarily mean any of those things seems like what Jesus demands is some kind of heart transformation it seems like what he demands is that we see just how good his new system is and just how generous it has been to us and somewhere that is transformative somewhere that captures our heart and says I can’t live any other way but this now somewhere that says I can’t operate the old system anymore I have to bring this goodness into every relationship the writer henry now and said this community is learning to forgive and to be forgiven now we might look at those and say one is easier than the other but the truth is they are both difficult they’re both difficult to accept your need for forgiveness from another is difficult to learn to forgive another is difficult and what I’m not saying and what I don’t think Jesus is saying is that you should hear this I should hear this and say right it’s done I turned off the tap I have no resentment anymore I’m just everything is good this stuff may go back years and it may take years to bring to some kind of sort of end or reconciliation or something like that and yet what Jesus seems to say to us is we have to start the journey somewhere we can’t keep doing it this way somewhere I would suggest that each of us has this need not just for a transaction to be closed not to just be told oh no it doesn’t matter but somewhere what we long for is restored relationships somewhere what we long for is that sense of someone saying to us no you are forgiven you are forgivable you are loved a few years ago my family had a friend that we made that we invited back to the house every sunday he would come to the morning service didn’t really have anywhere to go and so we would come stay get lunch with us and then after words we would take him to the evening service and then he’d make his way home and alex had had a ton of hard stuff in his life had been a drug addict for a while but really found like a home with our family and wanted to learn the guitar so my brother lent him a guitar to play and he took the guitar had it for a few weeks and then he just disappeared just didn’t see him again and unfortunately he found his way back into the some of the old lifestyle stuff and then years later we got a call or I got a call and it was alex on the phone just saying like after all of this story he’d come back to a place of health we’d written off the debt the transaction was closed were we going knocking door to door trying to find this guitar that my brother had lent him was he a little salty about his last guitar yes but he had a couple of others he could get over it we had written off what was owed and I would suspect alex knew we’d written off what was owed but somewhere what constantly played at his heart was the broken relationship somewhere what constantly played on him was I need something to be restored here if that is possible and after we talked for maybe 10-15 minutes he just kind of paused and he said it’s your brother around I said he’s not here at the moment he’s like I just I just need to tell him how sorry I am I need to tell him how much I value your family and how much I care how much you cared for me and and what I did was wrong and it just still it just feels bad somewhere what he was looking for was more than just a transaction that was closed he was looking for some kind of forgiveness that was deeply personal that was deeply relational Jesus takes forgiveness and he makes it personal this is Jesus on the cross when they came to the place called the skull they crucified him there along with the criminals one on his right the other on his left then Jesus said father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing and my objection to what he says is but they do know they do know they’re in the middle of it right now and they that they’re throwing dice for clothing like how can you say forgive and they don’t know and it seems like they do and yet Jesus in the midst of the most egregious of all sins can stand there and with no sense of sorrow for these in these soldiers no sense of what we might call repentances no forgiveness is still the journey that I’m taking I still refuse in this lowest moment to play the old system of counting of accounting I’m going to play this better I’m going to use this better system even in that moment we are invited into this possibility of forgiveness it’s deeply personal when God offers it to us and it’s deeply personal when we offer it to others Jesus looks at this whole way that the world is operating says there’s definitely there’s definitely a better way to do this and part of the beauty is how compelling that is when we when we get to the core of it the writer malcolm gladwell said this after wandering for many years he wrote a book called david and goliath where he interviewed people who’d been in the worst situations and in interviewing a couple that had lost a child in deeply distressing situations said they saw them off of forgiveness he saw them offer forgiveness and he he looked at their response and said there is no way that is possible without God that is not possible just by human nature there is something else in play here perhaps the first step for each of us when we think about what it might require for us to offer forgiveness maybe the first step is to recognize we have been deeply forgiven we have been deeply forgiven even when we aren’t aware of it and then maybe the second step is this it’s not to say everything’s okay not to say that everything’s fixed but it’s maybe to say that maybe our sense of justice isn’t perfectly in tune with reality maybe it’s to say I don’t get to have the vengeance I don’t get to operate justice somewhere what we say is this I choose to let God decide that I choose to not count anymore I choose to let that old system die and I choose to operate in this new system that Jesus has for us that says the dead is done and there’s a possibility that the relationship is restored let’s pray Jesus as we wrestle with forgiveness some of us might stir up some stuff from decades ago we might have that picture of the person the place the time in life that just man it still hurts and what we don’t have to do is say that it doesn’t matter it does matter
but we get to look at what you offer us the possibility that our old system of counting how we stand with you is now changed and we get to be transformed by that and we get to say that the goodness I have received I choose to pass on to others
thank you for being present with us in this amen