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Matthew 18

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

Wednesday, APRIL 19

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 18

I would like to skip down to verse 21.  Peter asks a very important question about a topic that causes a lot of us a lot of grief.  He wanted to know about forgiveness and, in particular, how many times he needed to forgive.

Before Jesus could actually answer the question, Peter offered his own answer.  He asked Jesus if forgiving someone seven times was sufficient.  It is important that you know that Peter undoubtedly thought he was being more than generous with seven forgivenesses (I just totally made up that word.)  The reason he would have thought that is that the rabbis during that time taught that forgiving someone three times was sufficient.  The other reason Peter might have thought he was being crazy generous with seven forgivenesses is that a lot of us struggle getting past one forgiveness.  I know a few folks who won’t even do one forgiveness.  

I suspect when Peter offered seven forgivenesses, he thought that he was putting himself in a place to receive some glowing praise from Jesus.  Instead Jesus said we are to forgive seventy-seven times.  That would be 490 forgivenessess and that is a lot.  You know that had to have hurt Peter’s feelings just a little.

By the way, let’s not take Jesus too literal here.  I don’t think He was suggesting we keep a running tally of how many forgivnessess we had offered.  Can you imagine saying to someone, “Listen, according to my painstakingly kept records, I have forgiven you 489 times.  You got one left.  Use it wisely.”  Besides, 1 Corinthians 13:5 says love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.  This can’t be taken literally.

I am quite convinced that Jesus’ point was our forgiveness should know no limits.  The reason I am convinced of that is forgiveness is absolutely vital to our mental, emotional, and relational health.  In other words, forgiveness may do more for us than it does for the person who offended us.  Forgiveness may release the other person for the wrong committed.  But, more importantly, forgiveness releases us from the grudge and bitterness that always accompany unforgiveness.

So, why don’t we forgive more often and more freely?  It may very well be that we don’t really understand forgiveness.  For example, forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness.  I know.  We have all been told we should forgive and forget.  While there are some things we forget almost immediately, there are other things we may never forget.  Forgiveness means we take away the weight of the offense not necessarily the memory of it.

Another example is sometimes we think if we forgive someone we have given them permission to hurt us again, sometimes in the very same way.  Not true.  Forgiveness does not insist on gullibility.  We can forgive, remove the weight of the offense, and still protect ourselves from being hurt in the same by the same person again.  In fact, we should protect ourselves.

Because I am suddenly out of space, let me leave you with one more thought about this.  Did you notice that Peter asked only about how to deal with people who had hurt/offended him?  But he didn’t seem to ask about what he should do when he hurt/offended someone else.  Sometimes our pride keeps us from seeking forgiveness almost as much as it does offering forgiveness.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 17

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY, APRIL 18

SCRIPTURE: Matthew 17

This chapter contains a significant and important story that occurs on what we call The Mount of Transfiguration.  The Bible says Jesus took Peter, James, and John (who were basically Jesus’ inner circle) up this mountain.  And once they got there, Jesus was transfigured.

Transfigured comes from the Greek word that we translate metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis is the process of something taking on a different form (like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly or a sweet, cute, cuddly one year old becoming a two year old).  The transfiguration that Jesus had was not necessarily His becoming something different as much as it was a moment of revealing who He really was.  It was as if His humanity was temporarily pulled back and His divinity was revealed in the form of an almost blinding light.

Then, just as those men were trying to comprehend what was going on with Jesus, Moses and Elijah appeared.  

There is just a ton of stuff that we could talk about surrounding the appearance of Moses and Elijah.  For example, we could talk about how their appearance is undeniable proof of eternal life.  They had been physically gone from this earth for a long time but here they are and doing quite well it seems.  

Another thing that Moses and Elijah bring to the table is their connection to the Old Testament.  Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the prophets.  Jesus standing there with them represented the fulfillment of both as well as the Way into the new covenant.

In Luke’s account (Luke 9), we are told a little bit about what these men talked about.  Luke 9:31 says they talked about Jesus’ departure that He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.  The word translated departure is literally exodus.  By the way, Moses should have been an absolute expert on exodus.  

Jesus was not just going to die in Jerusalem.  He was not even just going to be buried in Jerusalem.  He was in fact, preparing to leave Jerusalem by this spiritual exodus which literally means “a way out”.  Here’s a crazy thing.  In 2 Peter 2:15, Peter talked about his impending death in the same way.  He said it would be his exodus.  

This should be one of the great reminders that death for a believer is not the end of existence.  It is an exodus, a release or a way out of, from the bondage of this world into the glorious liberty of heaven.  Now, I have to hurry because I am basically out of space and you are out of time.

Our friend Peter decided the best thing to do was to build three tents or tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  Obviously, Peter thought those guys might want a place to stay on that mountain.  And I suspect, Peter could think of no better place to be at that moment.

But… There always seems to be a “but” in Bible stories.  A bright cloud (I didn’t make that up.  The Bible calls it a bright cloud.  I’m not sure what that is.  Most of the clouds I have seen are not necessarily bright.  Instead they kind of block out brightness.)  appeared and God spoke out of that cloud.  The message was a reminder that Jesus was indeed God’s Son and they should listen to Jesus (good advice).  

It wasn’t long before Jesus was leading Peter, James, and John down the mountain.  As important as that mountaintop experience was, the work of the ministry would take place in the valley.  Let me leave you with this.  We, too, need those mountain top times but we must never forget the needs in the valley.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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