In this new series, “The Revolution of the King,” we are looking at the new order of life that Jesus inaugurates in the world through his life, death and resurrection. This week we see one aspect of this revolutionary way of life: forgiveness.
Jesus calls his followers away from the vengeful, tit-for-tat pattern of the world, and into a life of daily, habitual forgiveness. It’s clear in this text and in others in which Jesus speaks about forgiveness how seriously he takes the need for a forgiving spirit. “Watch yourselves!” he says (17:3). An unforgiving spirit creates deep roots of bitterness that can distort a person’s life forever. Instead of choosing the way of bitterness, Jesus urges us to identify with those in the community that have wronged us, to speak honestly and truthfully to our brother or sister who has hurt us, and to seek restoration of relationship. And to do it over and over again. The disciples recognize that what Jesus is asking of them is not humanly possible- “Increase our faith!” they cry (17:5). Jesus reminds them that they are servants, called to entrust themselves to their Master who in the end settles all accounts justly (17:7-10).
Ultimately, every disciple is called to remember how much they have been forgiven though the work of the ultimate servant Jesus, and to extend the same grace that they have received. “Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).
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Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.
“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”