A question of forgiveness
Ever wish that you just had someone to talk to? You need advice, and you would love to run your ideas and concerns past another experienced, trustworthy person. That’s exactly what a mentor is for, and we have a perfect example of this with Peter and Jesus.
The disciples had been arguing, yet again, about which one of them was going to be the greatest in Jesus’ coming kingdom. They brought their argument to Jesus, who told them
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child – this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And who ever welcomes one child like this in My name welcomes Me.
Keep in mind that children were of little value in ancient society, so Jesus’ direction here would have been especially hard for 12 adults to accept. However, Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to give them three more difficult lessons:
· Drastic measures should be taken to avoid leading others into sin
· A single, stray brother is worth searching out and there is great rejoicing when the one returns to the many
· How to approach a brother who sins against you – first privately, then with a few others, and lastly, if necessary, involve church leadership
These lessons were counter-cultural for how the disciples had been raised and taught. When giving their arguments about which one of them was going to have a bigger kingdom title, I doubt that these areas of their lives were part of their resume.
After hearing these teachings with the rest of the disciples, Peter had a question and wanted clarification. He didn’t need to have any of the lessons repeated, instead Peter was wrestling with how to apply Jesus’ teaching when his brother repeatedly sins against him.
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
“I tell you, not as many as seven,” Jesus said to him, “but 70 times seven.”
While the phrase seventy time seven may feel familiar to us, keep in mind that the conventional rabbi teaching of Peter’s day recommended to extend forgiveness only three times. So Peter likely felt he was also being counter-cultural and generous by offering to forgive twice as many times, plus one extra. However, Jesus pushed Peter even further and instructed him to give his brother significant, not limited, forgiveness. Jesus then told Peter another parable to illustrate His point.
This is one of the times in life where having a mentor is beneficial. Peter thought he had progressed sufficiently in his thinking, so he brought his new understanding to Jesus for verification. Although Peter was growing in the correct direction, he was directed to go even further – to forgive generously, and be great in Jesus’ kingdom.