|설교 한 주일||August 7, 2011|
“As We Have Forgiven Our Debtors”
(Reading of Matthew 6: 12 NIV)
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
What is forgiveness all about, the Bible meant, to say to you and me today? Is forgiveness really realistic or just some kind of concept only? Anyhow, as Jesus Christ taught His people (actually His disciples) how to pray. And then he said in the Lord’s Prayer, “…as we have forgiven our debtors so please forgive our debts…” That is my title today. But before my sermon, let’s watch one movie clip titled, The Pianist.
The German Captain’s name was Hosenfeld. In front of the situation of the World War II (WWII), the Pianist who was born in Warsaw, Poland, a fortunate and very wealthy family – of course he was a Jew – but because of Hitler, his national region and some reason behind that German soldier should kill all the Jew as soon as they notice or spot. But I don’t know why this German Captain even would risk his own life and protected one Polish and Jew pianist.
If I’m talking about the situation in North Korea and South Korea, I’m not talking about political matter but the forgiveness. “I am German and then the Polish, they are the enemy…and then I have to kill them by the order of my superior.” Why that German Captain never killed this very simple, miserable and almost naked and hungered for weeks that he even fed him and gave him his coat. I could see Jesus to what the German Captain did. That’s no ideology. He was real; it’s not historical because in 2002, this movie was released by the Polish Director (I don’t know his name) who saw and experienced World War II and then he put his story in that movie.
The much important sentence I would like to say today is about the fact of what has happened – The pianist, the family, the sons, after long, long time had passed; they tried to escape the German Captain; they led all kinds of petitions, all kind of letters in one way or another but the country in Soviet (Soviet then is Allied) refused to release the German Captain so consequently, he died in a camp of war in Russia. German killed hundreds of thousands or millions of Jew. But also, in 2008, not only the Poland government but also the Israel gave his family the prize of honor in that nation. I could see how big they are, how the nation of Israel is good and big! This is the kind of feeling I have as I’m a Korean. If I was in the position of the pianist, and if I were saved by North Korean soldier and if I say what he really did, and then Korean government will kill me and make me, “You are Communist.”
What about you? Do you really have your enemy that you never ever try to forgive them? What Bible tells us today? Why forgive? – Because Bible says, “Forgive your brother… If you consider that they are your brother, forgive them. ” In Matthew 18, how many times shall we forgive? The Bible says, “Jesus said, ‘seven times of seventy’” so 490 times, that’s the limitation of Jesus. When the Bible says please don’t interpret as the number. Why Jesus says seven times of seventy you have to forgive? – Because Peter asked Jesus, “So Jesus, I just forgive my brother seven times, it’s enough right? Because all the Bible tells us, all the Rabbi, all the historical… In our culture, the maximum forgiveness is three times at one occasion. So, I am now very much merciful, Jesus, so I would forgive them seven times. It is over already because it is seven times, right?” But then Jesus said, “You’re talking about seven times when it was associated about forgiveness but I would like to say to you today, seven times of seventy you will forgive…” Three times in Jews’ culture, it has limitation. Peter said seven times; it has limitation also until seven times. What about next if you happened to be eight times? So Jesus said, “Don’t count number! Forgiveness has no limitation.”
I would like to challenge you, if you have somebody or some situation, all those who hurt you, this is the time for you to forgive them. Why? How? “Pastor, I tried but I can’t…” Well, let’s see, is it true or not? When you think about forgiveness, in God’s forgiveness, that point starts our salvation. If God has not forgiven us, how come we have salvation today? How many times God forgave us? How many times God would forgive you? Is it less than 490 times? But today, we have salvation in Jesus Christ! When Jesus said ‘7 times of 70’ it means unlimited. When you read the Bible – not only Psalms 103 but also Psalms 107 – how many times God forgave his people? God gave them a chance to be His people. “Be like Jesus…be like this…live according to my commandment…” But how many times they went astray? Mark 11 says, “Even when you are praying, forgive your brother so that Father in heaven will forgive you…”
What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is not a tool to change something. “I forgive you so you stop it…I forgive you so next time, don’t do it…” Forgiveness is not a tool to manipulate somebody. That is where our problem starts. “I forgive you now and you change!” our head will burst it. Forgiveness is not a magic trick. “I’ll forgive so you change! Don’t do it again!” And then forgiveness is not a feeling. “Yes, I feel I would forgive.” Is there anything you can find in the Bible when you feel it, you forgive? If you like, you forgive. If you don’t like, you just leave it? Is it the forgiveness talking about from the Bible? Because I am a seaman, I just declare the definition of forgiveness as the mooring rope – just release, let the mooring rope go; throw it to the sea so that that vessel goes to the ocean freely. That is the forgiveness. Once you released that rope, there is nothing; you have no tools; there’s no any feeling; there’s no anything you can manipulate that vessel. The forgiveness is cutting the thread of the kite. Kite is flying in the sky so just cut the thread so that kite might go wherever. Forgiveness is just like you shoot or throws the arrow high in the sky and then you will not recover it again. That is the forgiveness. Forgiveness is posting big sign so everybody can see, NO DEBT. For example if you are a banker and you have a kind of very bad check or bounced check. It says a kind of ‘break your heart’. The forgiveness is not to put it back into your file but tear it out in thousand pieces. The forgiveness is opening the key or turning the cell’s door so let the prisoner go out. That is the forgiveness.
Brothers and sisters, the forgiveness is your choice. It’s not a feeling. It’s your decision to forgive and then nothing to do with those who hurt you. The German official, what did he give to the pianist and the nation of the Israelites? How the Israelites or the Jews even forgave that German soldier who even killed many Jews in the line of his battle? Maybe you can ask, “Pastor, if they don’t confess what he did, I know. He hurt me! You see my broken heart! He never confesses what he did. He never says anything. Pastor, what am I supposed to do?” You may ask but my answer is very clear. Forgiveness is two kinds. It’s not my word but actually from Calvin, he said in his book: Somebody who came with the excuse and then confessed, “I’m sorry. I did it…” There will be healing. There will be restoration. There will be more strong relationship with two parties. But this world, as you know so do I, the people is not like that. They did it very obviously but say nothing. They even kill but they pretend that they did nothing. In such a case, brothers and sisters, Bible says you forgive. That’s the two kinds of forgiveness. Forgiveness is never to manipulate the party who hurt you. Forgiveness is something between you and God. You may not say, “I forgive you” but you are not in the position to say this. Who are we that we can forgive somebody? Are we actually in the position to forgive somebody? As I said, just release, “I forgive…”
How you know that you have forgiven? If you think that thing night and day, you did not forgive. If you pull it always, you never forgive. “Pastor I already forgot…” And then you say it again and again. Release and cut the thread of the kite. Let him go as he is from your heart. Let him go… Maybe somebody in this church, who never forgives yourself as well, let yourself go from your life. Did it hurt you? Let go… That is the forgiveness. “Before, you said that you love me, now how come you did it so? I give you food…I give you this…my son, how come?” Somebody says, “I forgive but I won’t forget…” That is not forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a grace because both to forgive and to be forgiven is a grace. Dear brothers and sisters, let’s listen and learn from Jesus Christ. What Jesus did to you? What Jesus did to His people? He fed His people, He prayed for His disciples. He gave cloth. He healed all the sickness. And then what the people did against Him? And then how Jesus Christ said to the people on the cross? “You, my people, I forgive you. You change! Don’t do it again.” Did Jesus say so? As we did, “I forgive you today, don’t do it again! It’s already three times!” Is that forgiveness? How many times you count, until seventy times or four hundred ninety times? Brothers and sisters, in the Lord, if we are in Jesus, how did Jesus did it on the cross? Just remember how Jesus said on the cross, these are things between God and Jesus, “Father, forgive them, because I forgave them, for they do not know what they are doing…” Forgiveness is the thing you have to deal between you and God not the party concerned between you and the one who hurt you. It’s only a grace that we can forgive; only a grace to be forgiven. May God bless us.
Rev. David Bang