A recap of last nights class in which we looked at how Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery and also how he responded to Peter after he had denied Jesus:
- Jesus illustrated the term “tender mercies” in how he interacted with the woman. In contrast to the scribes and Pharisees who threw her out for everyone to gawk at, Jesus looked down and wrote on the ground and finally confronted her after everyone had left.
- Jesus chose to forgive instead of condemn: “I do not condemn you”.
- Jesus forgave, but upheld morality: “go and sin no more”.
- Jesus sought to help Peter. First He prayed for his faith not to fail (Luke 22:32), then He looked at Peter (Luke 22:61), then He made a special effort to reconnect with Peter (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5).
- He engaged Peter in a discussion that gave Peter an opportunity to reaffirm his faith (John 21:15-19).
- Jesus gave Peter another chance: Feed My Lambs, Feed My Sheep (John 21:15-19)
We are to follow Jesus example!
This past Sunday we studied the gift of showing mercy. Romans 12:6-8 lists 7 different “gifts”, the last of which is “he who shows mercy”.
We are all to be merciful! But the Bible isolates that as a particular gift that some people possess more than others. It is certainly true that some are better at it than others.
We went around the room and gave examples of people in the Bible who are remembered for being merciful. Esau, Joseph, Naaman’s servant girl, the father of the prodigal son are all good examples. The good Samaritan is an example of someone showing mercy physically. Barnabas, the “son of encouragement” is an example of showing mercy both physically (Acts 4) and spiritually (Acts 9 and 15).
Paul said “he who shows mercy, (do it) with cheerfulness”.
QUESTION: Why do you think Paul reminded us to show mercy “with cheerfulness”?
Listen to THE GIFT OF SHOWING MERCY.
No man is perfect. We sin and people we live with people who sin. These verses approach the problem from two angles: (1) caution about causing another to sin and (2) how we react when someone sins against us. The word offenses is used which is sometimes translated “stumbling block” and it refers to something we do that causes another to sin.
What is your initial thought when you read, “if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him”?
Yesterday’s beautiful story of repentance and restoration takes a somewhat ugly turn. The prodigal son’s older brother learns of the celebration taking place in honor of his brother and is not happy. The father pleads with him to come in and the brother explains why he is so resentful. The father expresses appreciation for the older son’s loyalty, but also expresses his great joy for the safe return of the prodigal.
What does this teach us about how to restore a Christian brother who repents?
Today we consider the first two of three parables that illustrate God’s love for sinners. Jesus tells about a man who lost a sheep and a woman who lost a coin. They both searched diligently till they found what was lost, then rejoiced and called their friends to rejoice with them over what had been found. Similarly, Jesus says there is joy in heaven when one sinner repents!
These parables were prompted by the Pharisees’ complaint that the tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to Jesus and that He received them and even ate with them!
What kind of relationship do you suppose the Pharisee had with these sinners?
There is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. What does it mean to repent?
Today’s Text: Luke 9:51-56
As Jesus is traveling toward Jerusalem they pass through a Samaria village that does not accept him. James and John suggest calling fire down from heaven to destroy the village. Jesus tells them they have the wrong attitude – He did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them!
Twice the text notes that Jesus’ “face was set” (‘steadfastly set’ in one case) for the journey to Jerusalem. In fact, it says this is the reason the Samaritan village rejected Him. What is the significance of that phrase “He steadfastly set His face” for the journey to Jerusalem?
Today’s Text: Matthew 18:21-35
Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive his brother and offers, “up to seven times?” The parable of the unmerciful servant was given to help Peter (and us) understand how wrong it is when we are forgiven by God and then are unwilling to forgive others.
As you read the parable you see that the Master (who represents God) was disgusted with the his servant (who he had had mercy on) because of his lack of compassion and refusal to forgive. Note also that even his fellow servants were “very grieved” by his behavior. Everyone who witnessed what he did strongly disapproved!
What was so wrong about the unmerciful servants actions?
Give two reasons why this parable teaches us we should forgive others.
Note: the difference between a denarius (a days wages, of which he was owed 100) and talent (something like a years wages, of which he owed 10,000!) is ASTRONOMICAL! Don’t miss that as you consider the story!
Today’s Reading: Matthew 18:12-26
This is Matthew’s “follow up” to the teaching about becoming like little children. Remember the apostles had asked the question, “who is the greatest?” (Mark 9:34, 35).
There are three parts to this reading: (1) The parable of the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine in search of one that was lost, (2) Instructions concerning a brothers who sins against us, and (3) A statement regarding the authority of the apostles.
Question: How does Jesus parable about the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine fit in with the discussion about becoming like, not despising, and not offending the “little ones”?
Peter wanted to know how many times he should forgive his brother who sins against him and he offered “up to seven times”? He must have been shocked by Jesus response “”I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven”. (Matthew 18:21-22).
God’s expectation is WAY BEYOND ours! Sometimes our best efforts are just “scratching the surface” of what we really should do.
I like the phrase “Forgive Everyone Everything”, but want to qualify it with a couple of considerations:
(1) We cannot ignore the consequences of sin. We cannot give someone hope that “all is well” with God unless they are willing to address the sin in their lives.
(2) God alone forgives sin (in the sense of absolving the sin, declaring someone “not guilty”). Our “forgiveness” involves our expressing love, moral support, willingness to accept and restore. We should be willing to do that for anyone!
Question: How is our forgiving others (1) good for ourselves, and (2) good for the person who sinned against us?