30 Nov Luke – Dec 1
Forgiveness / Reconciliation – Luke 17:4
First Century rabbis said forgiveness was to be extended a maximum of three times. If someone sinned against you after that, you could write them off. Jesus says we’re to forgive the same person seven times A DAY! In the Jewish mind, many numbers carried a specific connotation. And seven had the strongest, going all the way back to the beginning. Seven meant completion, fulfillment. Jesus’ hearers understood Him to mean there was no limit to forgiveness. It isn’t to be measured out one offense at a time. It’s to mark our relationships with one another.
But we need to go back to the condition on forgiveness Jesus gave in v. 3. We forgive when the offender repents. It’s not enough to just say you’re sorry. Anyone can say “Sorry” but not BE sorry. A sincere “sorry” comes from sorrow that moves the offender into a desire to change; a longing to quit the behavior that caused the offense. It’s not repentance to repeatedly do the same thing with no concern about changing.
As we consider the forgiveness Jesus refers to here, a crucial distinction needs to be made. What Jesus means by “forgiveness” is reconciliation; that is, returning the actual interaction between people to a friendly state. Forgiveness first releases the sense of entitlement to get even or make the offender pay for the wrong done. Then, forgiveness is willing to be reconciled to the offender once they repent. But that reconciliation can’t occur until the offender demonstrates sincere repentance. In other words, reconciliation is how the repentant offender tastes forgiveness.