HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD WE FORGIVE
“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
23“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
28But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’
29So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’
30He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
31When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32Then his master summoned him and said to him,
‘YOU WICKED SERVANT! I FORGAVE YOU ALL THAT DEBT BECAUSE YOU PLEADED WITH ME. 33AND SHOULD NOT YOU HAVE HAD MERCY ON YOUR FELLOW SERVANT, AS I HAD MERCY ON YOU?’
34And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
35So also my heavenly FATHER will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
In this parable, Jesus teaches us the power of forgiveness towards each other, and how this affects our relationship with GOD YHVH.
When Peter asked about how many times we should ‘forgive’ those who do something negative against us, Lord Jesus answered to him, ‘Not only SEVEN, times, but SEVENTY-SEVEN times’, in an open declaration, in the mannerism of those days, equivalent to ALWAYS FORGIVE offenses.
As a Jew, Simon-Peter should have known that, because, apart from the Torah teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), and all of us would like to be forgiven is we are caught in a fault, our FATHER, YHVH also commands us to be forgiven towards others in (Proverbs 17:9).
But this time, Jesus, who knew and understood all the Scriptures, had to teach his disciple, in direct words to be always forgiving, because that also affects our relationship with GOD.
Then Jesus proceeded to tell the parable of the unforgiving servant, who after pleading to his King to please don’t sell his family to repay his debt (Jesus was not condoning the selling of people or slavery, but putting a case across as it was used in those evil times, among people who did not know GOD, to make a point), the King forgave this servant’s debt, so he kept his family and became debt-free.
But he did not return the same mercy he just had received, and sent to prison a fellow worker that owed to him, a much smaller amount of money. As we see, then the King revoked his forgiveness for this hard-hearted servant, and equally sent him to jail, for the amount much larger that he owed to the King.
In these words of our teacher, Jesus, there are three lessons of life:
1 – YHVH GOD, represented by the King (v.35), freely forgives the debt (sins) of the first servant, without the need of him paying any atonement for the sovereign forgiveness. Teaching us that YHVH’s forgiveness, when HE forgives, is free and complete. We need to do nothing, except repent and plea for mercy to GOD.
GOD’s forgiveness is complete and final, always, for everyone, without the need of any ‘payback’.
2 – The imprisonment, that represents Hell, is as long as the debt=sins, are still pending, but it ends when the debt is paid in full. Teaching us that YHVH’s eternal and perfect justice, only collects from the guilty party, not another innocent ‘atoning’ victim. The atonement is paid by the sinner, and ends up when he has paid the equivalent of his debts=sins, and not a second more (v.30,34).
3 – Finally, HOLY JESUS, teaches us to be merciful towards all creation, plants, animals, and specially humans, our neighbors, born from an honest merciful heart, BECAUSE, GOD YHVH also has mercy on us, without asking for anything in return for his forgiveness, except repentance and a purpose of correcting ourselves. No blood, no animal sacrifice, no money, no house or jewels, or our life is asked in return for HIS mercy, because YHVH GOD CAN, BECAUSE HE IS GOD ALMIGHTY FOR EVER.
In the same manner, we should learn from our HEAVENLY FATHER, and be merciful like HE is merciful with us.