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Math Tutoring Required…

Math Tutoring Required…

by Rev. Alexandra Robinson on September 13, 2023

Reading:  Matthew 18: 21-22

I’ve never been a math person but I do know that 70 x 7 equals 490.  In fact, my times tables were easy to memorize compared to my struggles and multiple tutoring sessions required for Pre-Calculus and Statistics.  Math people amaze me, with their ability to calculate the abstract to the exact. 

But when it comes to Biblical forgiveness, math is not what Jesus is inferring. In fact, his expectation of forgiveness in naming 70 x 7 was not to forgive someone 490 times.  It meant an uncertain amount, or an indescribable number.  That isn’t exactly what Peter wanted to hear, when he asked the question of Jesus – “how many times must I forgive someone who has wronged me?” 

After all, when Peter anticipated the answer to this question, he guessed 7 times.  This more than doubles what was required by Jewish law – to pardon someone 3 times for an offense (Amos 2:6, Job 33:29).    Peter was being generous, but Jesus expanded that number beyond his imagination. 

Like Peter, we too like to use our math when it comes to forgiveness, keeping track of the offenses and wondering when have we reached the point where enough is enough?  When do I forgive, and when do I stop forgiving?  Unfortunately for us, Jesus wasn’t too good at math either.

But then when we consider our own need for forgiveness, we realize that our need does not have a number either. Not to mention the number of times required to forgive ourselves!   Perhaps in our gratitude for God’s forgiveness to us, we find a release on the specifics of forgiving others.  

This Sunday, we will conclude our sermon series on forgiveness with the question “when do we forgive?”  And there is little question in my mind, that God’s math might be a struggle to calculate the abstract amounts required for our reality.  Likely, we may need some tutoring, but I pray we will find blessings in the learning together.

Peace and grace,

Pastor Alex

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