September 17, 2023

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

  • First reading and Psalm
    • Exodus 14:19-31
    • Psalm 114 or Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21
  • Alternate First reading and Psalm
    • Genesis 50:15-21
    • Psalm 103:(1-7), 8-13
  • Second reading
    • Romans 14:1-12
  • Gospel
    • Matthew 18:21-35

The gospel from Matthew:
Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.

So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Our scripture lessons can be difficult. There are issues in today’s gospel. Luther taught that the Word contains both Law and Gospel. This week’s parable is rich in detail. It tells the nature of God. We have seen people like the slave who was forgiven but did not forgive. Forgiveness comes from the heart. A German Nazi SS helped to round up Jews, put them in a building, set it on fire, and shoot anyone coming out. Then this SS man asked for forgiveness. What would you do? It is a strong command in the Gospel that says have mercy on your accused as God has mercy on you. Good works is necessary. The Law gives us these works. Pastor Stevenson continues his sermon on forgiveness ………….

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