Forgiveness is Not to be Withheld

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”

Jesus said: “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.  Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’  Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.”

That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.

–Matthew 18:21-35

They Begged Him to Leave

Matthew 8:28-39 is one of the scariest Bible passages, but not in the way you might think.

Matthew 8:28-39
[28] When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area.[29] They began screaming at him, “Why are you interfering with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before God’s appointed time? [30] There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. [31] So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”[32] “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water. [33] The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. [34] Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged him to go away and leave them alone.

Think about what has happened in this story. Some extremely strong, demon-possessed men terrorize a whole region. Jesus casts out the demons, thus liberating the region from their tyranny. What is the local town’s response? They begged him to go away and leave them alone.

Jesus’ display of power and mastery over the demons was a good thing (it freed the region from tyranny)! And yet, for the town, it was terrifying. Why? Because it demonstrates that Jesus is Lord, not me. He controls this world, not me. And losing perceived control over my life is always a scary prospect.

But Jesus is a good King, who ultimately gave up His power and prestige to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11). A death which would reconcile me back to God. After believing in Jesus, He works His power on our behalf, even though it comes in unexpected ways.

What’s Your Response to Jesus?: Quick Notes on Matthew Chapter 2

These thoughts probably aren’t original, but they were the ones I had while reading Matthew 2 this morning. Matthew 2 is all about the responses to the news of Jesus’ birth.

1. Herod was threatened by the news of Jesus’ birth

Matthew 2:1-3
Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, [2] “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” [3] When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled…

Herod did not want to submit to Christ’s Kingship and sought to kill Him. Jesus threatens my power, because Jesus was born King to rule over every square inch of the universe (and my life).

2. Jerusalem was troubled by the news of Jesus’ birth

Matthew 2:3
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Jerusalem was troubled along with Herod. It’s ironic, because one would think that Jerusalem—the locus of the Jewish people—would desire her King to be born. But no. She was troubled by the news. She really did not want a Messiah. She was happy with the status quo.

3. The wise men were joyous

Matthew 2:10
When the magi saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Don’t miss the pile of adjectives here. They didn’t just rejoice. But they rejoiced “exceedingly” and greatly. In other words: they partied. Does the news of Jesus’ birth bring you joy? Great, exceeding, over-the-top, joy?

4. Joseph simply obeyed God’s Word

Every time God’s Word came to Joseph in a dream, he would simply get up and obey.

Matthew 2:13-14
[13] Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” [14] So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt.

Matthew 2:19-21
[19] But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, [20] “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” [21] So Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

Matthew 2:22-23
[22] But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, [23] and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. 

Matthew 2 provokes in me this question:

What’s my typical response to Jesus?

What’s yours?