“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.

Forgive him.

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.

King on a cross

Last Sunday on the church calendar was called “Christ the King” Sunday. It’s the day the church celebrates that Jesus Christ is the sovereign Lord of the Universe. With many people shaken by the election, “Christ the King” arrived just in time.

Yet we find King Jesus, not on a throne, but on a cross, dying, between two thieves. At a time when so many people are hurting, perhaps we should remember the last words Jesus spoke to another human being before his death. Jesus told the second thief, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The thief was moments away from dying; he had nothing good in his record, and yet Jesus assured him: “Today, you will be with me.”

What does this mean?

It means that the blessings and forgiveness of Jesus Christ are available to you, right now, in this moment. We have a hard time taking hold of them because this kind of forgiveness is so hard to comprehend.

We have a hard time forgiving people who hurt us. We carry grudges. We make deposits into our bank account of hurts. We make sure the balance never gets to zero.

And we have an even harder time believing that God forgives those we don’t like.

This is why your life is such a mess. It’s why you worry; why you’re so self-conscious; and why you look down on others.

You’re not forgiving. You’re not asking for his forgiveness.

It’s the most important concept in the world.

It’s the heart of the Christian faith.

If it wasn’t, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would not have spoken about it on the cross with his dying breath.

They tortured and mocked him and he forgives. The only perfect person who ever lived, took the punishment that we deserved, so that God will treat us, forever and ever, the way he deserved.