|FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
Forgive Your Brother from the Heart
September 13, 2020
Forgiveness is filled with questions. How often must I forgive? Is there a limit
to the grace of forgiveness? What is the connection between God’s
forgiveness to me and my forgiveness to others? The answer to these
questions lies in Christ. As our heavenly Father has forgiven us, so do we
forgive one another in His name. This forgiveness is clearly and beautifully
shown in the example of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers
and then forgave them because of God’s mercy.
“Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive” [LSB 843]
Forgive our sins as we forgive,
You taught us, Lord, to pray
But You alone can grant us grace
to live the words we say.
How can Your pardon reach and bless
the unforgiving heart
That broods on wrongs and will not let
old bitterness depart?
In blazing light Your cross reveals
the truth we dimly knew:
What trivial debts are owed to us,
how great our debt to You!
Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls
and bid resentment cease;
Then, bound to all in bonds of love,
our lives will spread Your peace.
Help us, heavenly Father, that we not think too highly of ourselves and too little
of our neighbor, but give welcome in Your name to all people and rejoice
because You have filled us with Your redeeming love in Jesus name. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT READING Genesis 50:15–21
15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may
be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”
16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this
command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the
transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’
And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your
father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and
fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph
said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you
meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many
people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will
provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke
kindly to them.
HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 18:21–35
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin
against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to
him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore
the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle
accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to
him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his
master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had,
and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him,
‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for
him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But
when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who
owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying,
‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him,
‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put
him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw
what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and
reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master
summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that
debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on
your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master
delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my
heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother
from your heart.”
Forgiveness is not part of human nature. This is evident when Peter
thought there to be a limit to forgiveness. He was confused when Jesus
indicated there was to be no limit to forgiveness. Jesus needed them to
understand that God forgave in this manner for a reason. God is perfect and
we are not. We naturally do not want to forgive when we feel hurt. We want
revenge. Without some means of forgiveness how do we come before a holy
God? Perfection cannot come from imperfection. If we cannot find a way
then God must. It is the reason Jesus came into the world to pay the price for
all sin by dying on the cross. The faith we have been given by God to believe
in Jesus is how we receive God’s total and complete forgiveness so we can
come to Him. We need to understand how much we have been forgiven so
we can forgive in the same way. This is what is meant in Ephesians 4:32. “Be
kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ
forgave you.” If God is willing to forgive us in such a way, how can we
withhold forgiveness from others. We need to approach forgiveness by faith
so we do not forget how much we have been forgiven. If God were to deliver
us to the jailor until we had paid all the debt that we owed to him, we would
remain there forever. This is why Jesus paid the debt and by faith we receive
the benefit. Part of the benefit is to share what has been received because it
is God’s forgiveness not ours. He wishes us to forgive in the same way so
how can we do otherwise.
LORD’S PRAYER Matthew 6:9–13
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy
will be done on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; and
forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and
lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen.