Matthew 18:15-35, August 2, 2020
Forgiveness – How Shall I Forgive
18:15-17 If your brother … . Jesus begins His teaching on forgiveness with the case of a believer who has wronged another believer.
This refers in many ways directly back to what Jesus had just said 12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Then there is what Spurgeon had to say about a sheep that has gone astray Jesus emphasized the love and care we should have for all in the Christian community. “The first temptation is to despise one, because only one; the next is to despise one, because that one is so little; the next, and perhaps the most dangerous, form of the temptation, is to despise one, because that one has gone astray.”
The purpose of going to your brother or sister is to restore them and to forgive them. It is the same purpose when you take one or two others with you. Again, it is the same purpose when brought before the church – even if they are removed from the church. Now they are straying and they are lost. Here another quote from Spurgeon “Oh, how we ought to love sinners, since Jesus loved us, and died for us while we were yet sinners! We must care for drunkards while they still pass round the cup; swearers even while we hear them swear…We must not wait till we see some better thing in them, but feel an intense interest for them as what they are – straying and lost.”
They may be out of the church, but we should still be loving them, forgiving them, praying for them, they are the lost sheep we will rejoice about when they are found and return. It is the same for someone who has wronged us.
18:18 Binding and Loosing. This authority that had been given to Peter alone (16:19) is now given to all the disciples. Binding and loosing is what we were about in the preceding verses when eventually it might end up before the entire assembly. Repentance leads to loosing or forgiveness and continued fellowship. The lack of repentance leads to binding or retention of sin and exclusion from the community (David Turner). It should be obvious that their binding or losing was true only as God confirmed it.
18:19-20 If two or more. Here Jesus wants us to understand the importance of to two or more believers agreeing in prayer – praying in harmony – they have the assurance of God hearing them and answering them. However, our prayers/requests must always be in God’s will we learn from 1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. So what do we know from these two verses? We know
· that large numbers are not essential. · that the rank of the people is not essential.
· that the particular place is not essential. · that the particular time is not essential.
· that the particular form the meeting should take is not essential.`
18:21-22 Seven times? With all the talk on forgiveness and seeking God’s will, Peter sought to be a star pupil when he said seven times as Jewish custom at the time as in the Talmud said to forgive up to three times, but not on the fourth. He had to be surprised when Jesus said, “No, not seven times, but seven times seventy times.” What this really means is unlimited times.
18:23-35 Unforgiveness. 10,000 talents. If silver 100 talents would be worth $44,000 today, if gold 100 talents would be worth about $2,400,000 today. If silver, the entire debt would be $4,400,000. If gold, the entire debt would be $240,000,000. What Jesus intended to show was a debt so great it could never be paid. Never.
100 silver coins or 100 denarii. A denarius was the daily wage of a day laborer – what we might call minimum wages today. It was a debt that could be paid off. It might take a while depending on what one’s actual daily wage was, but it could be paid off.
The man who was forgiven so very much could not forgive a little. What happened to him? Jesus says the same will happen to us unless we forgive from our hearts. For real. Not fake, but for real.
Looking at the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 we find the same requirement in verses 12 and 14-15.
Bottom Line: God’s love for us is so great He forgives all of our sins. Every single one. He gives us a forgiveness we could never earn. Never. In gratitude He expects us to forgive those who have sinned against us. No matter what. No exceptions. We have the ability to forgive, we can forgive because we have been forgiven.