Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

Proper 19 September 14, 2008

Academic journal article Currents in Theology and Mission

Proper 19 September 14, 2008

Article excerpt

Genesis 50: 15-21

Psalm 103: [1-7] 8-13

Romans 14:1-12

Matthew 18:21-35

First Reading

In this week's Gospel reading, Peter asks Jesus for some clarification on the issue of forgiveness: How often should I forgive? Jesus responds by telling Peter that he should forgive "not seven times, but I tell you, seventy-seven times" (Matt 18:22). Perhaps this is an echo of the report in Gen 4:23-24, where Lamech tells his wives that he had killed. He then brags/promises that "if Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold." Jesus puts up forgiveness as the value of the kingdom, as opposed to vengeance.

Jesus then tells a parable to further illustrate his teaching on forgiveness. It is the parable of the unforgiving slave who had been forgiven himself (of a much greater debt) by the king. By telling this parable at this time, Jesus ties our human struggles related to forgiveness to a theological truth about God's grace. God has already forgiven us; notice that the greater forgiveness by the king of the slave comes first in the story. This forgiveness, which we receive from God, can be and should be example and inspiration for us to forgive those around us. Also, the portrayal of the king's willingness to forgive a debt of 10,000 talents (one talent = 15 years' wages) provides illustration of the extremes of God's forgiveness and grace for us. …

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