7th October 2013

The World’s Worst Prison 

“Lord if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”
Matthew 18:21 (Good News Bible)
 

The Spanish name for this huge piece of rock is the Isle of the Pelicans, but no one knows it by that name. It is best known as Alcatraz, one of the most escape-proof prisons in the world. Surrounded by the freezing waters of San Francisco bay, Alcatraz boasted high walls, double locked doors and machine gun toting guards who couldn’t be bribed. This grim prison which once housed America’s most violent criminals is now a tourist attraction. But the world’s worst prison is the one that we enter whenever we refuse to forgive our brother from the heart! 

In response to Peter’s question above, about forgiveness, Jesus tells them a story (Matthew 18:21-35) about an unforgiving attitude by which this individual puts himself into prison, a dungeon that is many times worse than Alcatraz!  For a better understanding of this parable we need to remember:
1.      He was talking about forgiveness, not salvation; the King in the story is not a picture of God—God does not forgive one day and condemn the next.
2.      Jesus was talking about brothers, not outsiders. Here, Peter was asking about forgiving his brother (v. 21), and this is the focus of Christ and the reason for this story. He is not discussing God’s forgiveness but the importance of brother forgiving brother in the family of God!
3.      This judgement is here and now; the man in the parable put himself into prison but we must not project this experience into the future. Here and now, we are either forgiving or unforgiving, and we experience the consequences of our actions in this life. 

The point is, if we are unforgiving we are in reality only hurting ourselves. Paul writes: “Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ” (Ephesians 4:32). And in Colossians 3:13, “You must forgive one another, just as the Lord has forgiven you.” 

We have nothing to lose and everything to gain whenever we forgive “from the heart” as Jesus said. Each of us loves to be forgiven; so let’s extend this beautiful gift to others from the depths of our hearts; because when we do this—the knots are untied and the past is released! 

Prayer
Lord, thank you for your forgiveness and the great price that it cost you; soften our hearts as we read your words about forgiving others.
Amen
 

Study by Cliff Neill

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cliffneillAbout the Author:
Cliff Neill is an Elder in Grace Communion Church Luton.

Local  Congregation:
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
Farley Hill
LUTON
LU1 5JE

Meeting time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Harry Sullivan
Phone:  01908-582222
Email: harry_sullivan@wcg.org.uk

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