Order, Words, and Voices 02.26.23

02.26.23 Reciprocity of Forgiveness, Matthew 18:15-35


Pre Worship Music

Opening Song     Come, Thou Fount                 Lynn
Amazing Grace        

Call to Worship Response/Lord’s Prayer                Renee

Reading        Matthew 18:15-35                    Andrea

Songs              Living Hope                        Lynn
            It Is Well With My Soul

Message        Reciprocity of Forgiveness            Rick

Music         You Are My King (Amazing Love)        Lynn

Community/Closing Peace                         Rick

Benediction                                    Rick

Post Worship Music

Slides Note: There is a blank title slide between each Section

Music (slides)

Come Thou fount of ev’ry blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love
Verse 2Here I raise mine Ebenezer
Hither by Thy help I’m come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wand’ring from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
Verse 3O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy grace Lord like a fetter
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see
Verse 2’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Call to Worship/Lord’s Prayer (Slides)

Leader: The people wanted to live in harmony before God and with each other.
Response: God gave them the law.

Leader: The people wanted revenge and retribution against those who hurt them.
Response: God gave them earthly boundaries and punishments.

Leader: Peter wanted to know how many times he had to forgive the same person for the same repeated hurt.
Response: Jesus gave a number in the hundreds.

Leader: Peter wanted specifics.
Response: Jesus said forgiveness is not numerical 

Leader: The people hurt each other.
Response: Jesus told them how to reconcile.

Leader: The people desired to experience forgiveness.
Response: Jesus gave them a parable.

Leader: We want forgiveness.
Response: Forgiveness that changes others.

Leader: We need forgiveness.
Response: Forgiveness that changes us.

Lord’s Prayer (Slides) ‘Join me in the prayer of Jesus’
Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses, while we forgive those who trespass against us. 
And, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Reading (Slides)   Matthew 18:21-35

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall my brother sin against me and I still forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven times.

Jesus told a parable to explain, “For this reason the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. As he began, there was one slave who owed the master ten thousand talents which today would be hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Since the slave could not ever repay, his master commanded that he be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, as payment. The slave fell to the ground, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ mThe master felt compassion, and released the servant and forgave him the debt. 

That slave then went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii, which is less than one percent of what he had just been forgiven; he seized his fellow slave and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe!’ 

The fellow slave fell to the ground and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But the forgiven slave was unwilling, and went and threw the fellow slave thrown into prison.

When the other slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and reported to their master. The master said to the first slave, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 

The master, moved with anger, handed the slave over to the torturers until he could repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Matthew 18:15-35
Music (Slides)

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope
Verse 2Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope
ChorusHallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope
Verse 3Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me
Jesus Yours is the victory whoa
EndingJesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope
It is well with my soul
It is well
It is well with my soul
When peace like a river
Attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say
It is well
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well
It is well with my soul
My sin O the bliss
Of this glorious tho’t
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross
And I bear it no more
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord O my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well
It is well with my soul

Message – Life Moments (Slides)

[Slide] In talking about forgiveness, the Chabad, a practice/philosophy of Judaism, says that “One does not decide what happens to them; one decides what they want to do with what happens to them.”

[Slide] Forgiveness. [Leave ‘Forgiveness’ slide up until next slide]

When our oldest son, Caleb, was very young, possibly between age 2 and 3, my sister Anita was babysitting him and daughter Grace who was old enough to sit upright but not to walk. As the kids were playing, Caleb threw a ball hitting Grace in the head. As Anita tended to a now crying Grace, she asked Caleb if he had anything to say to Grace. Expecting an apology, Caleb walked over to Grace and said, “Move next time Grace!”

Asking for forgiveness is not alway a natural action. Oddly, accepting forgiveness is sometimes even more unnatural.

[Slide – Leave up until after story

Mary Johnson watched an arrogant 16 year old Oshea Israel taken out of a courtroom. Over a decade later, Mary decided that it was time to see if she could forgive man who killed her son. Mary took a trip to the penitentiary where Oshea was serving out his sentence for the murder of Laramiun Byrd, Mary’s son.  

Mary picks up the storyon Story Corp which she visited with Oshea.

Mary: After you left the room, I began to say: ”I just hugged the man that murdered my son.” And I instantly knew that all that anger and the animosity, all the stuff I had in my heart for 12 years for you–I knew it was over, that I had totally forgiven you.
Oshea: As far as receiving forgiveness from you–sometimes I still don’t know how to take it because I haven’t totally forgiven myself yet. It’s something that I’m learning from you – I won’t say that I have learned yet – because it’s still a process that I’m going through.
Mary: I treat you as I would treat my son. And our relationship is beyond belief. We live next door to one another.
Oshea: Yeah. So you can see what I’m doing–you know first hand. We actually bump into each other all the time leaving in and out of the house. And, you know, our conversations, they come from ”Boy, how come you ain’t called over here to check on me in a couple of days? You ain’t even asked me if I need my garbage to go out!”
Mary: Uh-huh.
Oshea: I find those things funny because it’s a relationship with a mother for real.
Mary: Well, my natural son is no longer here. I didn’t see him graduate. Now you’re going to college. I’ll have the opportunity to see you graduate. I didn’t see him getting married. Hopefully one day, I’ll be able to experience that with you.
Oshea: Just to hear you say those things and to be in my life in the manner that which you are is my motivation. It motivates me to make sure that I stay on the right path. You still believe in me. And the fact that you can do it despite how much pain I caused you – it’s like amazing.
Mary: I know it’s not an easy thing, you know, to be able to share our story together. Even with us sitting here looking at each other right now, I know it’s not an easy thing. So I admire that you can do this.
Oshea: I love you, lady.
Mary: I love you too, son.

[Slide“One does not decide what happens to them; one decides what they want to do with what happens to them.”

[Slide] Forgiveness. Forgiveness is the next step…the step when we have been wronged and, hopefully, the step when we have wronged another.

[End Screen Share]

Forgiveness is difficult to give, and, ofter, it is even more difficult to receive. Forgiveness given releases us of the burden of the wrong done by another. No longer do we have to carry the pain, no longer do we have to imagine our revenge, no longer are we forced to allow the hurt to define our worth.

Forgiving received is possibly even more difficult to navigate. Reception of the forgiveness given by another person is a personal acknowledgment of our own imperfection, our own failures. It requires sacrifice, yes, receiving forgiveness calls us to sacrifice.

Forgiveness given to another person is a Holy Act, Forgiveness received from another person is a Holy Act. Holy acts call us to sacrifice. Holy acts take place in the presence of God. God’s presence is a place of purification and refinement, calling us to sacrifice. Jesus on the cross is our visual of forgiveness given, it is our visual of sacrifice. It is the most central aspect of being human.

Our passage for today is preceded by an incident where the Apostle Peter asks Jesus, “How many times do I have to forgive the same person for the same repeated offense toward me.”

We often denigrate Peter for this question, the truth is, in his context it was a perfectly valid question. God had allowed Moses to develop a set of punishments and reciprocal actions of penance to God for disobedience of the law and hurts committed against others. 

Details and Specifics such as, “He who strikes someone so that he dies shall certainly be put to death. Yet if he did not lie in wait for him, but God caused him to fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. If, however, someone is enraged against his neighbor, so as to kill him in a cunning way, you are to take him even from My altar, to be put to death. And one who strikes his father or his mother shall certainly be put to death.” (Exodus 21)

Then, Jesus comes along and says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I say to you, do not show opposition against an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other toward him also. (Matthew 5:38)

Who could blame Peter for desiring some clarification and specifics, however, Jesus told him that forgiveness was not about number, it was about release – releasing yourself from carrying the burden of another person’s sin, as well as  release from your own actions.

So, Forgiveness given, and received, has just been taught as being limitless, Jesus now tells a story of a master who did place limits. In addition, it is a story where the actions of the master, where forgiveness is limited and retractable,  – a story in which the actions of the master are comparable character elements of God.

It is a simple story. A slave owed his master a debt that would take decades of constant work and no rest to repay the debt. An impossible deed. As the master attempts to clear out the debts owed to himself, he calls this slave in to call on him to pay his debts. The slave declares that immediate payment is an impossibility which is filled by the master’s pronouncement that he will imprison the slave until the debt is paid, an even greater impossibility since the slave will not be unable to work and earn from prison. At the sentence of the master the slave breaks down, begging for more time. The master responds by wiping the debt away, with total forgiveness. The slave is surprised and leaves the master’s presence only to go to another slave that owes him a debt that is less than one percent of the debt for which he was just forgiven. When this other slave cannot pay the smaller debt he is thrown into prison – a sentence he has just escaped.

When the master hears of this, he takes his original forgiveness away from the first slave and throws him into prison. Matthew then reports that Jesus finishes this parable with the words, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

The master generously grants an unforgivable debt only to then take it away when the receiver responds with unforgiveness to a fellow slave. Then, Matthew explains that God, the God of grace, does the same as the slave. What?

Two basic principles of Forgiveness.

First, as we have learned, we have to receive forgiveness. When the master forgave, he gave the slave a chance to receive the forgiveness, but this was now the slave’s decision.

The difficult thing about receiving forgiveness is that to receive it, we must let it immerse us into the waters of that forgiveness. Such immersion is an act of letting the meaning and depth of that forgiveness sink in deep. An immersion where the sacrifice made by the giver of that forgiveness becomes real. For the slave, such an understanding of the given forgiveness would have provided him a glimpse of the enormity of the monetary sacrifice of the master – hundreds of thousands of dollars was lost. Instead, the slave only saw his freedom to continue to exist in the realm of selfishness that had caused the original debt. The slave could not see the sacrifice because all he could envision was returning to the path of entitlement. The slave had a hardened heart that had been permanently conditioned, by his own merciless actions.

When forgiveness is given and then received, there are repercussions. The slave was offered release from his burden which in return would allow him to grow in character. The ripples would reach another, who would then make his own ripples. This was God’s plan for his forgiveness to impact a community and a world.

Second principle of forgiveness is that only God can judge hearts. We saw this with Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds. We humans are incapable of accurate judgment and, therefore, unfit to decide who has actually received forgiveness that has been offered. Because of this truth, we do not judge forgiveness, instead we continue to give that forgiveness. 

This does not mean that we continually and constantly put ourselves into situations of pain. This truth does not mean that we remain in an environment of abuse, we leave, however, we also release, we forgive the abuser whether that forgiveness is received or not. Forgiveness does not mean that we allow the abuse stick to us destroying our own freedom.

It is not our calling to force another person to truly receive forgiveness – even when we fully love the other. 

This is the reciprocity of forgiveness, we forgive and then we do not carry the weight for the offender. We leave it to them to recognize and accept the weight of the sacrifice required for the forgiveness- fully allowing that sacrifice to change them. We fully release, we release our own burden and we release our own pain.  

We allow God to make final judgment and the pronouncement of sentence.

When it is us receiving the forgiveness we also have this reciprocity responsibility. We grasp the sacrifice made for us in this forgiveness, we let that which was done for us – change us as we allow the forgiveness to immerse us.

“One does not decide what happens to them; one decides what they want to do with what happens to them.”

What are you doing with that which happens to you?


I’m forgiven
Because You were forsaken
I’m accepted
You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your Spirit is within me
Because You died
And rose again
ChorusAmazing love
How can it be
That You my King
Would die for me
Amazing love
I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do I honor You
EndingYou are my King
You are my King
Jesus You are my King
Jesus You are my King​


  • Next Sunday, Matthew 20:1-16, A Matter of Enough
  • Wednesdays Noon Bible Study, This Wednesday, February 29-April 5, Lenten Season, (Starting Date Change), Matthew 16:13-28
  • Spring Gathering, March 26
  • San Francisco Immersion Trip, May 17-22, if interested speak w/Rick
  • Prayer Ukraine, Prayer for Turkey and Syria after earthquake, prayers for our world

Benediction (Blank Slide)
May we go with Jesus’ radical words ‘Happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are gentle, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who have been persecuted. May we go, with the challenge to be salt and light, to be a light shining before others and in so doing, may we see with God’s eyes and glorify God.

Closing Peace
Leader: May the Peace of the Lord go with you.  
Response: And also with you.

Published by rickanthony1993

Husband of Andrea, Father of five, pastor of Grace Fellowship Norman OK.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: