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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-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

Sometimes it’s important to read between the lines when we read the Bible. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should add to what is being said, or take away from the directives taught. When we read God’s letter to us it’s important to remember that the events of the Bible are real-life events in the lives of real-life people. The people, places and events of the Bible aren’t removed from the reality of life itself.

Such is the case with Matthew 18: 21-22. Jesus has just finished teaching on the importance of dealing with situations in which we have been openly wronged by someone else. That got Peter thinking. Perhaps he was hoping to justify some feelings of resentment or bitterness. Maybe he was about to get the revenge he was hoping for. For whatever the reason he goes to Jesus, I think for vindication of feelings of judgment.

‘So, Jesus,” He starts out, “How many times should I forgive? Up to seven times?” Street logic of the day said three times and you are out. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me a third time and look out! So Peter, knowing who he was talking to, doubled that and threw one in for good measure. Seven times oughta do it.

Jesus’ response isn’t so surprising. If we forgive as God forgives there are no limitations. Fair? No! Grace and forgiveness are never built on the premise of justice or rights. But it’s what Jesus doesn’t say that catches my mind.

Jesus didn’t ask Peter if the person in question asked for forgiveness. He didn’t ask if this was a one-time sin or one that had been done repeatedly. He didn’t ask if the person actually deserved forgiveness, or if the person was of the same denomination or sexual persuasion, or political party. He didn’t question Peter as to whether the person was pro-life or pro-choice. He simply said forgive.

We won’t always agree with those who wrong us. We won’t always approve of their actions. We won’t appreciate the pain they cause to us emotionally, physically or spiritually. We may dislike their body piercings, shudder at their dress or be disappointed with their worship style and music.

Do we choose our family? If my father accepts the doctrine of my adversary shouldn’t I? If my Father accepts people and loves people and forgives people who are drastically different than I am, shouldn’t I?

When Peter came to Jesus he learned a valuable lesson each of us needs to remember. When we came to Christ we came with various amounts of baggage. Some of our loads were piled high. Others not so much. No matter what baggage we carried we were forgiven. Should we not forgive those who are different than us as well?

PRAYER: Father forgiveness has always been hard for me. So many times I’m afraid to forgive because I’m not about to let myself get hurt again. Yet you have forgiven me countless times for recurring sin in my life. Empower me with your Spirit to forgive those who have wronged me and accept those who are different than I. In Jesus name, Amen.


When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34

Jesus had just received word that his cousin John had been brutally murdered by an evil King who was motivated by the jealous actions of his wife. We must never forget, when we read Bible passages, that these are real events in the lives of real people. What we read in the Bible are not just stories and fairy tales. The people involved had real feelings, got hungry, were lied to by friends, had financial hardship, got sick and all the other things you and me experience on an emotional plain.

Jesus was just a few months younger than John and I would imagine that even though they lived a distance apart, they saw each other often because Mary, Jesus’ mom, and Elizabeth, John’s mom, were very close.

Because of this you can well imagine the heartache and perhaps anger that Jesus felt when the word came to him. There was nothing fair about what happened to John. There was no justice in the palace. Only greed and power driven lust.

When the disciples returned from a preaching journey, Jesus suggested they get away and rest for awhile. He needed some time to mourn. They needed some time to rest from the rigors of ministry. Just a few days, maybe even a few hours.

We all know the feeling. Life gets so hectic. Things that hurt or disappoint us come and go with such haste that we barely have time to rest, time to think, time to mourn. The old adage ‘when it rains it pours’ is often very true. Calamity always seems to bring company.

They went to a quiet, solitary spot that Jesus and his disciples had visited before. It was on the far side of the lake, far from people, far from the hustle and bustle of life. But by the time they got there, word had spread of their approach. Rather than being met by a quiet spot by the lake, they were greeted by hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in need of Jesus’ touch.

He was tired. He was emotionally spent. He had compassion. Did you notice that? In the midst of Jesus’ despair and fatigue he had compassion on those who need his touch. Couldn’t it wait one day? Was anything so important that he had to be interrupted? Didn’t they realize that he had feelings too?

If you are ever up against the wall. If life seems to have put more on your plate than you can possibly handle. When people fail you (or you fail people). Remember this day in Jesus life. There is never a time when he is too tired or too distracted or too involved in other issues that he doesn’t have time for you.

Jesus will always have time for you regardless of how many times you come to him. Never let the enemy tell you otherwise.

PRAYER: Jesus, I thank you today for your love and compassion. I praise you for the truth that no matter what comes my way, you will always be there for me. Always willing to comfort, to guide, to forgive and to show compassion to me. Empower me by your Spirit to be able to rest in the comfort of your arms. In your name I pray, Amen.

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