Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht/ Season Of Pentecost Proper 18 Sunday September 17th 2017 - / Matthew 18:1-20/ Wear it
Text: Matthew 18:21-35
Theme: Forgiveness - Wear it
Intr – Someone comes to you and says: “you know, a co-worker said yesterday that he thinks I don’t really deal well with the responsibilities of my position. That’s so rude!” And you happen to know that person well and can’t deny that truth. You have two options: stay silent and be nice. Or use a well known saying: “If the shoe fits, wear it” Or, as an older version of the saying goes: “If the cap fits, wear it.” We use that expression to confirm what has been said. We think that the comment actually fits our friend’s head well.
I have a hat here with me, and I will use that expression in a slightly different context today. Sometimes we hear a message at Church, or somewhere else, especially when law is being preached accusing sins, and we think: “Wow, what a hit. He nailed it. I only wish that (so and so) could be here to hear it. That would fit him/her so well”. The hat always seems to fit well...on another person’s head.
Today’s theme is forgiveness. If we talk about forgiveness then prior to that we are talking about sin. We see that in Joseph and his brothers’ story. We see that theme in Psalm 103. The Gospel for today has it all over.
When we talk about forgiveness, we are confronted with the reality that we always seem to fall short of sharing it with people as we should. The Law accuses us. So this is another of those opportunities to think: "wow, pastor nailed it today. That hat would fit so well on so and so..."
1 – Matthew
_7 x 70 – Jesus shows that forgiveness must abound. Since sins abound forgiveness must overflow.
_The Parable – You receive mercy but you won’t pass it along. “Oh, I know lots of people just like that guy. They are so resistant to repent, or to grant forgiveness. They surely would profit a lot from today’s sermon."
_Romans – when we turn to Romans, we see a little bit of change in the subject. Paul is warning us that sometimes we sin by judging as sin things that are not. We pass judgement on others. Wow, now that one hits home. Passing judgment. “I know many homes where that hat would fit on many of the heads under that roof...” Sometimes, that’s how we think of our own home.
Again the hat fits – for others. While the only head we should be looking at is the one we see in front of the mirror. But it is so hard for us to realize that it is tailor made to our own heads; to our own hearts.
2 – JESUS
Now, do you know whose head this hat of sin fit perfectly? (turns the hat and shows the tag JESUS on it). It fits the One hanging on the Cross. Jesus wore that hat. He became sin, who has no sin, so that we might become His righteousness. He wore the hat of sin and took it to the cross with Him. You are forgiven. Completely forgiven. In Jesus, there is no: “I forgive you, but remember...”. It is “ I forgive you”, period. Now you have peace. You can live with Him, with no need of head hunting. You can wear the new hat that he passes along to you (attach to the hat the word FORGIVEN). This hat of Christ’s forgiveness is the perfect one for your mind, and especially your heart.
As we receive God's forgiveness we are bound to pass it along, as the Gospel today urges us. There are lots of heads and hearts out there in need of it – and often times they don’t even know or they do not know where to find it... The Law needs to be preached intensely so they, and we all, recognize how desperately we need to be forgiven. And Christ’s forgiveness must be outpoured without restraint. You are forgiven.
As we share God’s forgiveness, I find it appropriate to remove from our path some myths we create, or accept from pop culture, that prevents us of sharing the Good News of forgiveness from the Gospel.
_I will forgive them only if he or she shows real repentance. It would be very good if that would happen. But anger, sorrow, often make it incredibly hard to forgive, yet holding a grudge becomes a danger to you; it becomes way too much of a burden to carry on our shoulders. Give it to Jesus, even when you don’t yet see signs of repentance. Release it to God. Dwell in the peace and love that he offers to your heart as you exchange your resentment for peace.
_I may forgive, but I don’t forget. When God forgives us He throws our sins into a deep lake and puts a sign on its shore: “No fishing”. That’s how we need to deal with sin and forgiveness. If not forgotten – that is, if we still carry the resentment or grudge – forgiveness is still being retained in its fullness. If not forgotten, then not forgiven.
_If you still remember it, then you actually hadn’t forgiven it. Do you have a scar on your body? Can you remember how you got it? Now, if you press it today does it still hurt? I bet not. Yes, you will remember things that happened. But forgiving turns the hurt into scars. The pain is gone. The lesson remains.
_I can forgive a couple times, but there is a limit for everything, eh? Christ has already said 70x7 to Peter. But we still continue to be Peter. We think there’s a limit. Christ said no. That doesn’t mean you need to always be close to people who repeatedly abuse you. We have biblical counsels to get away from people like this, especially when it threatens our faith. But even if we depart from them, let it be in peace and forgiveness.
_Only weak people forgive. We learn from our society, which is less and less Christian and more and more pagan, that you shouldn’t repent from anything, for every mistake teaches you a lesson. Now, can you learn from a mistake without actually realizing that it was a mistake and regret it? I don’t think we can. In the end, only the strong can actually be weak. And they will be strengthened by God.
God’s Law continually points out to our sin. But not only to smash us and make us feel bad. The Law points us to the Gospel, the blessed forgiveness of our sins, salvation and life everlasting. It points to Jesus who fulfilled the Law perfectly in our place to win for you unlimited forgiveness. This unlimited forgiveness we receive is the same that we can unlimitedly share.
Cc – Does the hat fit? Christ’s Forgiveness? Yes, it does. It is a blessed gift from God and by faith this is a one size fits all hat.It fits your head and heart. It fits your neighbours’. Share with them the good news from the cross. Share with them that they are forgiven. Tell them with great joy: this hat fits you. Wear it! Amen.
 Inspired on the text "Five myths about forgiveness", by Rev. Herivelton Regiani, Santa Maria, Brazil.