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.)
Forgive them. No matter who, no matter what.
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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