Contemplating Jesus

A RADICAL DECLENSION

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

 

When Peter asked Jesus if seven times were enough to forgive another, Jesus answered, spontaneously, “Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy seven times”  (Matthew 18:22).  Thus he was to direct not just a comprehension, but a practice of what loving your neighbour as yourself was really about.   Jesus embellished his answer to Peter with the story of the king and the talents, elaborating on the Golden Rule as it related to God’s trusting goodness, fairness and mercy upon each of us.

Peter asks the sorts of questions we’d want answers for.  His seven times ratio would, under any normal circumstance, be an extraordinary achievement.  But Jesus, as he is wont to do, pushes the limits by multiplying the number by ten.   He is not about to let Peter put a lid on mercy.  Yet, the genius of Jesus’ direction is to enable an openness towards the concept of limitless mercy.  Holding a grudge, or planning retribution, only poisons the freedom that awaits the person hurt and wronged by another.  Counting to seven would only slow the course of retribution or liberation, depending on the situation.  But if mercy had a number beyond what would seem like human capability, then, with God’s abiding grace, a wronged person might find the treasure that Jesus knew was beyond price: freedom from suffering.  This freedom is unleashed through choice.  We can choose a never-ending relationship with being wronged, or let the arrows bounce off our skin, and the heavy rain flow off our backs.

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