Tag Archives: parable on forgiveness

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 19

Track 1: The Judgement Seat of God

Exodus 14:19-31
Psalm 114
or 
Exodus 15:1b-11,20-21
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

Proverbs tells us that the way to become wise is to feae the Lord.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.   (Proverbs 1:7)

Satan promised Eve that if she ignored and dishonored God she would become wise like him. Eve chose to listen to Satan. She demonstrated the corollary of the saying from Proverbs: Disrespecting and ignoring God is the beginning of foolishness. In our lives, many of us have followed her path of foolishness.

Moses warned Pharaoh that he must allow the Israelites to be freed from slavery. He not only warned Pharaoh but demonstrated by signs and wonders that it would be disastrous if he did not act. Pharaoh chose not to act. He disregarded and disobeyed what God had commanded. Today’s Old Testament reading records the consequences of his bad choice:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.   (Exodus 14:26-28)

Pharaoh discovered first hand this saying from the Book of Hebrews.≈

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.   (Hebrews 10:31)

Pharaoh chose to ignore a God who controls all things, even the path of the sea. The psalmist wrote:

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
Let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and thick darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
Fire goes before Him
And burns up His adversaries round about.
His lightnings lit up the world;
The earth saw and trembled.
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples have seen His glory.   (Psalm 97:1-6)

We are all accountable to this most high God. Do we ignore him? One of the ways that we do is in our judging of others. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

So then, each of us will be accountable to God.   (Romans 14:10-12)

We are all in the same boat. As scripture tells us:

since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;   (Romans 3:23)

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.   (2 Corinthians 5:10)

We have no right to judge anyone. From Hebrews we read:

 For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”   (Hebrews 10:30)

God is God. He has a right to juege. The good news is that God has already judged his people through the cross of Christ. This is true only for those who have stopped judging the sins of others and repented of their own sins. Let us remember how Jesus taught us how to prayL

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
   Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread.[c]
   And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.   (Matthew 6:9-12)

Jesus goes on to explain:

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.   (Matthew 6:14-15)

If we go on judging others, God will not forgive us. Not even the cross will excuse our foolishness. If we refused to listen to the words of Jesus, then he will hot be able to plead for us before the judgement seat of God. We have this waring from Hebrews:

For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy “on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.   (Hebrews 10:26-31)

 

 

Track 2: Forgiving from the Heart

Genesis 50:15-21
Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13
Romans 14:1-12
Matthew 18:21-35

Peter had a question about forgiveness:

Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.   (Matthew 18:21-22)

It appears that Peter wanted to place a limit on forgiveness. Perhaps it was because he understood his own limitations. Perhaps that is something to which each one of us can relate. How do we understand forgiveness?

Jesus told this parable to illustrate the nature of forgiveness and how our heavenly Father looks upon it:

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he [c]did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?   (Matthew 18:23-32)

What the servant in the parable failed to understand is that his forgiveness is tied to how he forgives others. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught:

If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 1but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.   (Matthew 6:14-15)

The Apostle Paul asked:

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

So then, each of us will be accountable to God.   (Romans 14:10-12)

We are all in the same boat together. The Apostle Paul wrote:

For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith.   (Romans 3:22-25)

The servant in the parable did not forgive his fellow servant. This is the lesson that Jesus wants us to take from the parable.

“And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”   (Matthew 18:34-35)

An unforgiving heart is a very serious matter with God. How do we forgive someone from the heart? In truth, we cannot without God’s help. We need to offer our hearts to God on a daily basis. I have found this prayer to be useful when someone annoys me or offends me:

“Bless {the person’s name} and heal me.”

If we go on judging others, God will not forgive us. Not even the cross will excuse our foolishness. If we refused to listen to the words of Jesus, then he will hot be able to plead for us before the judgement seat of God. We have this waring from the Book of Hebrews:

For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy “on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by those who have spurned the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know the one who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.   (Hebrews 10:26-31)

 

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