“If you see your friend going wrong, correct him,” Jesus said. “If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.”
The Bible uses the number “seven” the way we use the word “mega.” It means “a whole lot, more than you can count.” In the example of the friend who wronged you, Jesus means someone who’s done something terrible and personal, who’s “mega-hurt” you.
The apostles were “mega-bewildered” by the impossible requirement. “Give us more faith,” was all they could say.
Jesus responded that they didn’t need more faith. Faith isn’t quantifiable in any way we understand. Faith the size of a mustard seed comes with power enough to rearrange the landscape.
Jesus explained further with an even more enigmatic example. Suppose you were a master who had a servant who worked all day in the field. At dinner time, would you say, “take a break, eat with me?” Would you, the master, thank the servant for doing what he was told?
The answers, obvious to Jesus’ hearers was, “Of course not.”
The reason the answers aren’t obvious to us—we want to be seen as being kind to the servant and have him eat with us—is that we don’t understand the culture of Jesus’ day. People who had enormous debts they were unable to repay often sold themselves to a master for a time, rather than being thrown into prison.
The servant here was working off what he owed in a way that he had agreed.
The servant cannot then become the master and give the orders. But Jesus is saying that’s exactly what we do when we don’t forgive.
We know the ultimate master who came to us; who became our servant; who forgave us at infinite cost to himself. That’s mega-forgiveness.
And he requires it of us, too.