The last (and very late) of the The Lord’s Prayer series:
“Forgive us our Debts, as we also have forgiven our Debtors.”
Immediately after the Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “for if you forgive others their trespasses, yoru heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others’ trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” V14-15. Later Jesus tells the Parable of the unforgiving servant (mt 18:21-35) in response to Peter asking how many times he had to forgive others before writing them off (I’m karissaphrasing here, it’s like paraphrasing but not as smart sounding).
Jesus said tohim, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him,he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 Herefused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed,and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave youall that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
For me, the way our sinfulness and depravity is explained so often in the Bible as a tangible debt to be paid so makes sense and resonates. And the legal transaction presented as Christ absolving us is real and understandable in my mind.
Throughout this series, we have talked about The Lord’s Prayer covering every base for caring for our soul. God’s rescue plan for us is present in every page in the Bible, and his mercy abounds. There is nothing we could do, say, think, and nothing we could have done that could ever separate us from God’s merciful love.
Jesus’ instruction to us in prayer is just that: merciful love to give a framework for caring for our souls. The legal transaction of absolving our souls is the conclusion. Before the AMEN (meaning “so be it”).
Pray with weight, and accept God’s offer of absolution. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
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