Reflections: Wednesday the Fifteenth Week of Pentecost

September 13, 2023

Today’s Reading: Luther’s Small Catechism, the Lord’s prayer: Fifth Petition

Daily Lectionary: 1 Kings 8:22-30, 46-63, 2 Corinthians 4:1-18

So we too will sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us (SC, LP, Explanation to the Fifth Petition)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian Faith. No forgiveness, no Christianity. If Jesus does not take all our sins upon Himself in order to crucify them in His own body, and then deliver forgiveness to us in His resurrection life, there is no Christianity. That forgiveness is not conditional. He gives it freely, just as the master freely forgives the enormous debt owed by the servant in Matthew 18:23-27. This is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like: a master forgiving a debt that the servant could never repay, no matter how much time he had.

But then that same servant goes out and uses his new-found freedom from debt to force someone else to pay him. He won’t even give the second servant some more time, although the second servant is far more likely to repay the first than the first would be to repay the master. In other words, the first servant refuses to extend the gigantic gift of the master to the second servant. Jesus concludes the parable with the words of the master: “Should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:33-35). 

Why are Jesus’ words so harsh? Simply for this reason: if God’s forgiveness in Christ is not big enough to cover the sins of  those who sin against us, then it is not big enough to cover our sins. It is all or nothing with God: either His forgiveness covers every single person, or it covers no one. 

So how do we learn to forgive others? Only by being forgiven. Our forgiveness of others is not actually ours; it is God’s. It does not come naturally to us; we often find it difficult, or even impossible. And, in fact, it is–for us. But the entirely undeserved forgiveness that God gives us in Christ not only covers us, but it covers those who sin against us. When we forgive, we are forgiving with Christ’s forgiveness. We’re playing with house money. All for us, and all for others. Forgiveness is everything. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

“Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore, That they may trouble us no more;  We, too, will gladly those forgive Who hurt us by the way they live.  Help us in our community  To serve each other willingly” (LSB 766:6).

– Pastor Timothy Winterstein is pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, East Wenatchee, Washington.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.