Forgiveness: Jesus’ Plan For Healing And Reconciliation In The Church (Matthew 18:15-35) -- By: Daniel Doriani
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Forgiveness: Jesus’ Plan For Healing And Reconciliation In The Church (Matthew 18:15-35)1
Dan Doriani is Pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Prior to his return to the pastorate, he served as Dean of the Faculty, Vice President of Academics, and Professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis from 1991 to 2003. Dr. Doriani is a frequent conference speaker and is the author of many books, including the two-volume Matthew in the Reformed Expository Commentary (P & R, 2008).
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt 18:21-22).
In an older conflict in the Middle East, several Americans and Europeans were kidnapped and held as hostages in Lebanon from 1985-1991. The hostages generally led a miserable life; beyond that certain captors took special interest in tormenting them. They repeatedly told Terry Anderson, the longest held hostage, that he would be released, only to dash his hopes at the last minute again and again. The captors played games with Lawrence Jenco, too. They discovered that he was susceptible to dizziness, so they would spin him around and around, then let him go. Dizzy and disoriented, he would bump into things, then fall over while the guards howled in laughter. Once, after he fell, one of the captors, wearing metal-tipped cowboy boots, stood on Jenco’s head. Jenco couldn’t defend himself, but he cried out, “I am not an insect! I am a person of worth!” Should Terry Anderson and Lawrence Jenco forgive their captors?
Should we forgive those who humiliate us and inflict physical or emotional pain on us? What about lesser offenses, acts of thoughtlessness, small betrayals, and “jokes” that amuse no one except the perpetrator? Everyone can remember offenses that make our pulse rise, whether they occurred yesterday or ten years ago, whether they happened in the kitchen or the athletic field, in the family room or the board room. At home, many were hurt by parents who meant well and tried
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hard. Others suffered from fathers or mothers who neither cared nor tried. We were wounded by brothers and sisters who loved us dearly and by some who did not. Even in the church, we suffer from words spoken in haste or anger, from judgments rendered with cruelty, from promises made and not kept.
Curiously, the pain we feel may have little relationship to the off...
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