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Sunday, September 11, 2011

09112011 Sermon

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Jesus Christ, You forgive us our sins every time we come and confess them.  May we be inspired and forgive as much as You have first forgiven us.  For, You did not have to forgive us, but You chose to go to the cross of Calvary to set us free from the bondage of sin.  Enable us to forgive our brothers and sisters seventy times seven so they may feel the same freedom we feel from You for each and every one of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

One of the greatest biblical images that has been used countless times is the “Prodigal Son”.  We all know the story, how the son has squandered the father’s wealth and finally returns only wishing to be a simple field worker for his father.  But the Father sees his son far away and forgives him in his heart for all of the shame, the wrongful living and especially for his sinfulness against him.  This story simply illustrates for us today Jesus response to Peter’s question.

Peter came and asked Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive?”  Being a good Jew, Peter knows the answer the Rabbi’s would have given him if asked the same question, “Three times for the same sin”.  So Peter is clearly expecting Jesus to follow along with good Jewish teaching.  That’s why Peter says, “As many as seven times?”

Jesus on the other hand sees this as an opportunity to not limit or bind his followers and us today with a certain number, but release us to a new thought.  Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy-seven times.”  Something for us to note, the translation of the number here is different dependent upon the translation, our Celebrate insert which uses the NRSV says, ‘seventy-seven times’, the King James Version, ESV and my favorite the NASB all say, ‘seventy times seven’.  No matter the translation this is a large number.

We today could and probably would ask, isn’t that a little extreme, ‘seventy-seven times’ or ‘seventy times seven’.  But for Jesus the number is not important, it is the concept.  It is almost like Jesus purposely used a truck load of dynamite to uproot a single corn plant.  Jesus wanted the disciples and us today to understand forgiveness should not be limited in number of times, but freed to understand forgiveness for and especially from God is never ending and so to should be for us as well.  Our greatest opportunity is to when wronged by our brother to continually ‘turn the other cheek’, forgive them for their clear and manifest sins and with every opportunity forgive as much as Jesus Christ forgives, even “seventy-seven times” or “seventy times seven”.

Our human nature balks as this notion of forgiving.  Our ‘of this world’ nature says, the person who wronged me should be made to ‘pay’ for their sins.  Having inflicted upon me sometimes the harshest feelings of betrayal, greed and unrest, they, the person who wronged me “I cannot forgive.”  This week, at the Max Jones fieldhouse, the Todd Becker Foundation told the story that clearly models this worldly notion of “I cannot forgive.”  You see Todd Becker was killed in a tragic car accident in which the driver who was legally intoxicated and his passenger in the front seat walked away from the accident, but Todd, though legally drunk, buckled into the back seat of the car was killed.  Todd’s brother Keith, was this person, ‘blaming the driver of the car’, not wanting to forgive him.  It was not until a Pastor said to him, Keith, you have to forgive the driver of that car.  Until you do that you will continue to build up the wall of sin that separates you from your Savior.  What that Pastor also said to him, was he had to forgive himself.  You see, it was Keith his own brother that had led Todd down this ‘wide path’ to destruction.  Keith had given him his first girly magazine, given him his first drink, introduced him to hard alcohol and given him his first drag of marijuana.  Now Keith’s brother Todd was laying in a coffin and the person who had driven the car was spending his Senior year of high school in a jail cell.

Jesus is telling Peter and us today, we are just like Keith.  We need to forgive ‘seventy times seven’ times, not only the people who have hurt us, but also and especially ourselves.  This forgiveness we find in what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross of Calvary.  Jesus Christ came to set Keith and us free from our sins which bind us daily and free all of us saints here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.
//trial script