"Reconciliation by Josefina de Vasconcellos at Coventry Cathedral." Image by Ben Sutherland via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0.
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Matthew 18:15-35 Commentary
by Warren Carter
This section directs a preacher’s attention to the complicated yet ever-present relationship issues of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Matthew 18 has emphasized six community “best practices:” renouncing the quest for greatness (18:1-5), embracing the powerlessness and marginality of a child (18:4-5), not causing others or oneself to stumble in sin (18:6-9), not despising others (18:10), restoring community members who stray (18:11-14). Now it adds a process of reconciliation (18:15-20) and exhorts forgiveness (18:21-35).
For many of us, reconciliation and forgiveness are more easily said than received or offered. Matthew 18:15-17 specify a multi-step process for reconciliation. If we interpret the references in verse 17 to Gentiles and tax collectors as requiring continuing efforts, the process never ends. Surely that’s a recipe for sustained stress, continual awkwardness, and relational hostility.
The focus then moves to another dimension of reconciliation -- forgiveness. Peter asks Jesus how many times he must forgive a brother or sister who has wronged him (18:21). Peter does not elaborate any details. ...
| Bible Text
Summer Readings (2019)
2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL Podcast 353: Forgiveness
March 10, 2019
Podcast on Matthew 18:15-35, the Narrative Lectionary readings for March 10, 2019 (Forgiveness) featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker. Recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn., for Working Preacher.