September 12, 2020 

Matthew 18:21-22 … “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’” vs. 21

Peter has had some ups and downs in his role as messianic advisor and wants Jesus to know that he has been paying attention. Following a conversation about forgiveness, he posits a plausible question, along with what he considers to be a generous possible answer. Poor guy! He was still caught up in the old tangle of retributive justice, the system which laid out the limits of God’s mercy. Jesus, showing a hint of frustration, lets him know clearly that forgiveness has no limits.

This has been a big issue for the church through the years. We see from this passage that early congregations, the ones Matthew was writing for, struggled to find a practical framework for forgiveness in their life together. It hasn’t gotten any easier for us. While most people gladly affirm God’s amazing grace and openly claim God’s unconditional mercy for themselves, we still prefer to believe that there are practical limits on our own need to forgive. We aren’t even as generous as Peter! We might forgive one or two times, but seven times? Unthinkable! Who does Jesus think we are? Fools? The key for us is to stop keeping track and simply adopt the mind of Christ. When forgiveness becomes our nature, as it is in Christ, we stop counting offenses, and open the door for reconciliation.

Thought for the Day: When is forgiveness the most difficult?