Why You Need to Forgive, Why You Must Forgive
November 02, 2022
Using the Revised Geneva Translation (RGT)
Mark 11:25-26. 25 “But when you shall stand and pray, forgive (if you have anything against anyone) that your Father also, Who is in Heaven, may forgive you your trespasses. 26 “For if you will not forgive, your Father Who is in Heaven will not pardon you your trespasses.”
How close is Matthew 6:15 to Mark 11:26? Very close.
15 “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, no more will your Father forgive you your trespasses.
26 “For if you will not forgive, your Father Who is in Heaven will not pardon you your trespasses.”
Are there other examples of Jesus saying this or something equivalent? There is the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:2-4
The first part of verse 4 moves in the direction of Mark 11:25-26 but clearly does not go as far. However, there is the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-15
Verses 14 and 15 are explicit and closely align themselves with Mark 11:25-26. Still these two verses come at after the Amen of the prayer.
A note in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary tells us, “These verses reinforce the thought of the fifth petition (v12 And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors). The repetition serves to stress the deep importance for the community of disciples to be a forgiving community if its prayers are to be effective” and points us to Psalm 66:18 which reads in the ESV (the RGT does not have the OT) as follows, If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened or in a paraphrase, If I delight in wickedness, God will not hear me, but if I confess it, he will receive me. This means harboring unforgiveness in one’s heart is like cherishing iniquity in my heart ordelighting in wickedness as far as the Father is concerned.
Matthew 18 beginning Jesus reply to Peter when Peter asks, 21 “Master, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I shall forgive him – up to seven times?” Peter expected to be praised as the cultural standard in Israel was three times and he was proposing seven times!
But Jesus was not done. Peter had brought up the subject of forgiveness and Jesus now told the parable of The Unforgiving Servant, verses 23-35. He begins by saying, 23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain King, who would take an account of his servants. Jesus added in verse 35, 35 “So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do to you, unless you forgive – from your hearts – each one his brother their trespasses.” There was no misunderstanding here, forgiveness was to come from the heart.
Two final examples.
Jesus was being crucified. Luke 23:34 were, “Father, forgive them! For they do not know what they do!” On the cross, nailed to the cross, dying, Jesus said, Father, forgive them! For they do not know what they do!
Accused of blasphemy Stephen was arrested and brought before the Council of the Sanhedrin. Given the right to defend himself, he gave a courageous speech. He concluded with 51 “You stiff-necked! With uncircumcised hearts and ears! You have always resisted the Holy Ghost. As your fathers did, so do you! 52 “Which of the Prophets have your fathers not persecuted? And they have killed those who foretold of the coming of the Just One, Of Whom you are now the betrayers and murderers. 53 “Who have received the law by the ordinance of angels and have not kept it.
After this they cast him out of the city and chapter seven of Acts concludes with, 59 And they stoned Stephen, who called out, saying, “Lord Jesus! Receive my spirit!” 60 And he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord! Do not lay this sin to their charge!” And when he had spoken this, he slept. Or in many modern translations, “Lord! Don’t hold this sin against them!” Like his savior, Stephen was going to forgive even to the point of his death.
What are we to make of all of this? Luke ended his message on Sunday asking, “What are we holding against others that God isn’t?” Going back to Mark 11:25-26.25 “But when you shall stand and pray, forgive (if you have anything against anyone) that your Father also, Who is in Heaven, may forgive you your trespasses. 26 “For if you will not forgive, your Father Who is in Heaven will not pardon you your trespasses.” What are we holding on to that we won’t forgive?