We look at the foot in your mouth, the way you jumped the gun, your impulsive tendencies, and we just shake our heads. But don’t take it personally. Because, honestly, it’s only because you are the one who said out loud the things that our own hearts can relate to. We see ourselves in you, Peter.
Thanks for letting us listen in your lessons from Jesus. We’re so grateful to be secondary learners to what you saw and heard and experienced firsthand.
Like when you asked Jesus if you should forgive your neighbor seven times. It would make sense, given that seven is the perfect (complete) number. But Peter, you forgot, like I do, that Jesus’ love is more than complete. His forgiveness is extravagant. His answer was a number too high to keep track of without a calculator or spread sheet. The number wasn’t the point. The “not-keeping-track” was the point.
Remember the story He told you, Peter? About the King whose servant owed him a huge amount of money? There was no way that the man could pay his debt without having to sell all his possessions and offer his entire family up as slave labor. He asked the King for mercy and the gracious King forgave his entire debt without any of that happening. He experienced that extravagant forgiveness. It was poured over him, drenching him head to toe. But, somehow, (like you and me) he quickly forgot and when he ran into a fellow servant that owed him a small bit of money, he demanded that his friend pay up. He forgot that he had experienced over-the-top grace himself. He failed to see that because of what he’d experienced, his only response should have been to pass it on. To reflect the heart of the King.
Peter, Jesus was saying that we need to, as we say today, “Pay It Forward”. Extend what we’ve been given. Not from some great effort of our own, but from the extravagance of what should be running off of us in the overflow of God’s love. If we are living in the experience of forgiveness, we should not be able to contain the urgency to cover others with it. (Luke 7:47 – “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”) And since there is no end to the forgiveness that we get to experience, there should be no end, no magic #7, applied to our forgiveness of others.
Thanks for asking the question, Peter. It was an honest inquiry and one we’d all want the answer for. Thanks for being the one that put it on the table to be addressed.
Oh, how I look forward to meeting you one day. I think we’d get along really well. But until then, I’ll look at your questions and Jesus’ answers and hopefully glean a little of the wisdom that you received in the presence of your Friend and King.