Forgiveness is the theme of this story from Matthew. Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive and Jesus answers with a really big number 77 times. Too big a number to keep track of! Forgiveness is an important theme in our daily lives too. From sayings such as “forgive and forget” to “better to ask for forgiveness than permission,” it seems to be part of our language and lives together to think about forgiveness. But it’s not the “get out of jail free” card that we tend to think of forgiveness as in our relationships. It’s more than wiping the slate clean and moving on. In the story of the Unforgiving Servant, it’s not just that the king was merciful and removed a debt that the servant could not have possibly repaid that is important. If forgiveness was just about ourselves and feeling better, Jesus would have stopped the story there. But Jesus goes on to tell that the forgiven servant then turns around and does not share that mercy with another person who actually owed him very little in comparison to the amount that the king had removed from him. He has the other person thrown in jail. Jesus wants us to go beyond ourselves and to see everyone around us as God sees them-beloved, imperfect and in need of radical mercy and forgiveness, not just once but over and over. Forgiveness is not a one-time act or just an action at all; it’s a way of living together as the people of God. When we live with each other rooted in this forgiveness that God shares with us over and over, each and every day without end, we are revealing the love and mercy of God for the whole world.
Youth/adults: How is forgiveness a way of life for you? How do you share God’s forgiveness with words or your actions? When was a time that you received forgiveness? When was a time that you offered forgiveness? What can make saying “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” difficult?
Children: When did you have to tell someone that you were sorry? What did they say back to you? Have you told someone “I forgive you”? Is that easy or hard? Did you know that God loves you so much that God will ALWAYS tell you “I forgive you” no matter what you say or do? Yes! God wants to treat our friends and family the way that God loves us!
God of forgiveness, thank you for loving us so much that your words to us are always “I forgive you.” We are grateful that through your son Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we shown forgiveness and love beyond measure. May we live our daily lives rooted in that forgiveness and love. Amen.