Thought for the day – Saturday 16 May

Thought for the day - Saturday 16 May
Dear All
Let me get this off my chest before I continue, I’m fed up by those folk who start answering a question by the annoying use of ‘So……’ and those who feel it necessary to pirouette before they continue speaking. That said, I forgive them and will have to do so, what’s 7 multiplied by 70?. Ah! well, It’s a big number anyhow.
If during your reading of my daily ‘thoughts for the day’ you think I might have repeated myself then perhaps you might forgive me too. It’s very difficult in conversation and in writing not to do so, repeat that is, especially if you want to emphasise a particular point of view or, and if, the subject matter dictates. Today’s message is a bit ‘repetitious’ and you will see what I mean shortly.
Here are some facts that I understand to be correct. I doubt if there will be an update anytime soon. In the Gospels the word ‘Kingdom’ is mentioned 162 times, there are 55 parables about the ‘Kingdom’ and in each of the Synoptics ie, Matthew, ‘Kingdom’ is mentioned 24 times and 11 unique times, Mark 8 times and 2 unique times and Luke 24 times with 18 unique times.
The Gospels, you will notice, as you read them, do repeat the same parables. Some scholars, probably most, believe these parables came from a single source of material as opposed to each of the Gospellers writing as independent witnesses. (Some folk don’t like this ‘idea’ though.) This is something you might bear in mind, especially if you get a little ‘confused’. There are obvious and noticeable differences in some of the parables but each having the same general meaning.
Whenever we read the bible it is important to consider the context. If you don’t it won’t be long before you run into all sort of problems and difficulties. For example, who today takes their lamp like wee Willie Winkie or phones their mates to come round for a sacrificial BBQ where a bull with no blemish is on the menu, or when relatives visit, kills the fatted calf?
Our parable today is about forgiveness. Peter asks Jesus how many times he needs to forgive someone if they say ‘sorry’. I don’t know whether or not Peter was getting a bit fed up with someone who kept upsetting him and then apologised or whether he had some niggling theological doubt, who knows? In any event, he seems to have some notion as to how many times he ought to ‘tolerate’. This is my speculation.
Specific numbers are quite prevalent in the bible, there’s even a book called Numbers, and if you have a look you’ll come across the number 7 and 40 quite frequently and in various books. What’s their significance and what do they mean, and why does Peter have this idea that he must at least give someone who offends him seven ‘goes’ before their ‘number’s up’. No more, that’s it?
In the matter of forgiveness, Jesus is not engaging Peter in some arithmetical niceties, he is rather using hyperbole, speaking a bit like you and I, who might say something like, ‘for donkey’s years, or ‘yonks’, or for ‘ages’. Come to think about it when were you last, if ever, asked by a child the actual date of ‘once upon a time’ when Goldilocks……..?
Jesus is saying there’s no limit in the question of forgiveness and wants Peter to know that. Paul in the same vein mentions in Corinthians that ‘love keeps no record of wrongs’. Forgiving and forgetting doesn’t come easily and for some understandably, never. The question of forgiveness provokes much thought and debate in society, politics and in our personal relationships. It is the subject for us to consider today.
Imagine that someone about to face death by lethal injection, the electric chair or the hangman’s noose and pleading forgiveness while quoting our passage today should they be forgiven or not? This question raises some weighty ethical issues such as justice, retribution, recompense, repentance, mercy and forgiveness. What do you think?
Today I ask you to think/meditate on these things
God bless you!

Jim

JBoag@churchofscotland.org.uk

MATTHEW 18: 21-35

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

“At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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