Sermon Notes June 8 and 11

Primary Scripture:

Matt. 18:21-35
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy time seven. “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Secondary Scripture:

Matt. 18:1-2 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Psalm 103: 8-13

8     The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9     He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10     he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11     For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12     as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13     As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

Discussion Questions:

1) Read through Jesus’ parable in Matt 18. What is your reaction it? What comes to mind?

2) In the message, we discussed the two edged sword of forgiveness: shame and bitterness. If you don’t experience the forgiveness of God, you carry your own shame instead of letting God carry it. If you don’t forgive others, you carry bitterness. What is your reaction to this?

3) Where is the line between forgives, trust and letting someone off the hook. For example, some are struggling to forgive a person who is downright evil or who is/has been abusive or dangerous. Forgiveness is one thing, trust or safety might be something different. Do you know of someone you can forgive but never trust again or never be safe around again?

4) We can tend to hear the harder edged words of Jesus as a threat. (i.e., “if you don’t forgive, your Father won’t forgive.”) but what if Jesus is simply naming reality – less a threat, more “this is how the world works.” In the message, we used the example of lung capacity – you can’t breath in more O2 unless you breath out. You have to make room in your body to receive O2. Could that be what forgiveness is like, making room for it?

5) The scale that Jesus operates in is interesting. 7 times verses 490 times. A debt of $10,000 (servant to servant) verses a debt of $7.4 billion. What’s your reaction to this scale? How mindful are you of the forgiveness of God in your life?

6) Jesus bookends this story by talking about children – both at the beginning and also in the next chapter. What do you think the link might be between child-likeness and forgiveness?

7)  In the sermon we suggested that the link was that a child has less trouble grasping how grand and magic something is compared to an adult. Could that be the secret to forgiveness? Getting a clearer picture of the grandness and vastness of God’s mercy?

8) Why is forgiveness of yourself often harder than the forgiveness of God? i.e., For those in Christ, God has forgiven you and wiped your slate clean, yet we struggle to let it go. Why do you think that is?

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

– GK Chesterton