Be radical when it hurts - statement #25 from Jesus

At the end of today’s show I’ve got a story for you, it’s about a murdered duck, a little boy, his sister and the Grandma who gets it!

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21

Jesus is demanding a radical kind of love, to forgive when they don’t deserve it. Peter’s question in v21 comes from the teaching in verses 15-20. One of the new things I learned here was that the typical rabbinic consensus was that you would need to forgive a brother three times. But Jesus radically challenges this idea. Not three but seven times seventy!

Jesus does more than forbid vengeance; he transposes a cry of revenge (see Gen. 4:15, 23–24) into a call for forgiveness. Whether he says “seventy-seven times” (NIV) or “seventy times seven” (NIV marg.), his words reject a calculating, quantitative approach to forgiveness. Love within the church “is expressed by an indefatigable capacity to forgive the brethren.”25 The ensuing parable illustrates the lesson (note “therefore,” v. 23). (Chamblin, J. Knox. “Matthew.” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible.)

How does Jesus want you to treat others?

Forgive them. No matter who, no matter what.

  1. Forgive those who hurt you. 
    1. Luke 23:33–34 (NLT) — 33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.  
    2. Matthew 5:43–44 (NLT) — 43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  Acts 7:59–60 (NLT) — 59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
  2. Forgive yourself
    1. Psalm 51:1–17 (NLT) — 1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. 3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. 4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. 5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. 14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. 16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Go through the Flushing Exercise, I have a link to this resource on the podcast episode page.  Richard Hoefler’s book Will Daylight Come? includes a homey illustration of how sin enslaves and forgiveness frees.  

A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target.

As he came back to Grandma’s backyard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead.

The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.”

But Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you, Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!” So Johnny did the dishes.
Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally smiled and said, “That’s all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it.” Again she whispered, “Remember the duck.” Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, finally he couldn’t stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he’d killed the duck.

“I know, Johnny,” she said, giving him a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.” (Larson, Craig Brian. 750 Engaging Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers & Writers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002. Print.)

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