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Luke 15: 11-31

Remember Colin a few weeks ago? He said that we are responsible To God and creation and also responsible FOR creation. We cannot be apart from creation but must be a part of creation. In this sense we are all responsible for as well as to all around us (whether we like it or not).

We are looking at the Lords prayer and this week the specific part is about forgiveness. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”.

  1. We are asking God to forgive us. That’s OK.
  2. We are asking God to forgive those who sin against us. That’s also OK but where is the bit about US forgiving people? We can’t ask God to forgive on our behalf and then act towards each other with the festering resentment which follows our lack of forgiveness, can we?

In this parable there’s a fair amount of forgiveness and resentment. We have the father who forgives his son and then there’s the brother who resents his father’s forgiveness. Resents the fact that he’d been working his socks off for ages while his brother was wasting his life away only to find his brother welcomed back with open arms. What’s more, he feels ignored and very hard done by when the fatted calf is brought out. To add perceived insult to very felt injury, the remaining half of his father’s inheritance will now most likely be split between the brothers which means the returning wastrel will have received ¾ while the dutiful brother only gets ¼!

Let’s have a think about how the wayward brother felt. Sure, he’d been away having a wild time of it, living it up and spending all his inheritance, but then-BANG- it all ran out. I can only imagine that at this point any “friends” he had made disappeared as fast as his cash. He was left destitute. SERVES HIM RIGHT I hear you say (which is more revealing about you than him!) JUST WHAT HE DESERVES. Well a couple of things here: (1) it’s not for you or me to say what he “deserves”; (2) Supposing he is really, genuinely, sincerely sorry. Supposing it took this act of selfish wanton living to make him realise the true value of life? And in the end he would also feel the true meaning of love and forgiveness. He wouldn’t have got this working in the fields would he? Isn’t this part of God’s plan?

When he hit rock bottom he had to learn the true meaning of humility. First he lived with pigs and ate their food. Remember the context of the time. Pigs were unclean animals according to Moses’ law. Jews couldn’t even touch a pig. He had to. For him to feed pigs alone was a huge humiliation. To degrade himself even further he ate the food reserved for the pigs. For a Jew at that time it is hard to imagine how to get lower.

Regardless of whether we accept this story as truth, it’s almost been placed in Luke in order to help us examine our own thoughts and feelings regarding loss and forgiveness.

Repentance- the first step to forgiveness or asking for forgiveness.

Do we celebrate “forgiveness”?

Should there be a law that makes us forgive? We do after all have laws to make us compensate with money people who have been disadvantaged by our actions.

When you say “sorry” is this you asking for forgiveness? To ask for forgiveness you must first acknowledge that there is something that needs forgiving- ie you’ve done something wrong.





I’m sooo sorry

…and when somebody says sorry to you, this is a reminder that you need to forgive. You are commanded by God to CHOOSE to forgive and by making this choice and following up with prayer you will begin to FEEL forgiveness too.

Adam Clarke on “Forgive us our trespasses”


Verse 12. And forgive us our debts] Sin is represented here
under the notion of a debt, and as our sins are many, they are
called here debts. God made man that he might live to his glory,
and gave him a law to walk by; and if, when he does any thing that
tends not to glorify God, he contracts a debt with Divine Justice,
how much more is he debtor when he breaks the law by actual
transgression! It has been justly observed, “All the attributes
of God are reasons of obedience to man; those attributes are
infinite; every sin is an act of ingratitude or rebellion against
all these attributes; therefore sin is infinitely sinful.”


Forgive us.-Man has nothing to pay: if his debts are not
forgiven, they must stand charged against him for ever, as he is
absolutely insolvent. Forgiveness, therefore, must come from the
free mercy of God in Christ: and how strange is it we cannot have
the old debt cancelled, without (by that very means) contracting a
new one, as great as the old! but the credit is transferred from
Justice to Mercy. While sinners we are in debt to infinite
Justice; when pardoned, in debt to endless Mercy: and as a
continuance in a state of grace necessarily implies a continual
communication of mercy, so the debt goes on increasing ad
infinitum. Strange economy in the Divine procedure, which by
rendering a man an infinite debtor, keeps him eternally dependent
on his Creator! How good is God! And what does this state of
dependence imply? A union with, and participation of, the
fountain of eternal goodness and felicity!


As we forgive our debtors.] It was a maxim among the ancient
Jews, that no man should lie down in his bed, without forgiving
those who had offended him. That man condemns himself to suffer
eternal punishment, who makes use of this prayer with revenge and
hatred in his heart. He who will not attend to a condition so
advantageous to himself (remitting a hundred pence to his debtor,
that his own creditor may remit him 10,000 talents) is a madman,
who, to oblige his neighbour to suffer an hour, is himself
determined to suffer everlastingly! This condition of forgiving
our neighbour, though it cannot possibly merit any thing, yet it
is that condition without which God will pardon no man.
See Mt 6:14, 15.


Source: Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible


Albert Barnes on “Forgive us our trespasses”


Verse 12. And forgive us our debts, etc. The word debts is here used figuratively. It does not mean literally that we are debtors to God, but that our sins have a resemblance to debts. Debtors are those who are bound to others for some claim in commercial transactions; for something which we have had, and for which we are bound to pay according to contract. Literally, there can be no such transaction between God and us. It must be used figuratively. We have not met the claims of law; we have violated its obligations; we are exposed to its penalty; we are guilty; and God only can forgive, in the same way, as none but a creditor can forgive a debtor. Debts here, therefore, mean sins, or offences against God– offences which none but God can forgive. The measure by which we may expect forgiveness is that which we use in reference to others. See Psalm 18:25,26, Matthew 18:28-35, Mark 11:25, Luke 11:4. This is the invariable rule by which God dispenses pardon. He that comes before him unwilling to forgive, harbouring dark and revengeful thoughts, how can he expect that God will show him that mercy which he is unwilling to show to others? It is not, however, required that we should forgive debts in a pecuniary sense. To them we have a right, though they should not be pushed with an overbearing and oppressive spirit; not so as to sacrifice the feelings of mercy, in order to secure the claims of right. No man has a right to oppress; and when a debt cannot be paid, or when it would greatly distress a wife and children, a widow and an orphan, or when calamity has put it out of the power of an honest man to pay the debt, the spirit of Christianity requires that it should be forgiven. To such cases this petition in the Lord’s prayer doubtless extends. But it was probably intended to refer principally to injuries of character or person, which we have received from others. If we cannot from the heart forgive them, we have the assurance that God will never forgive us.


(z) “forgive us our debts” Mt 18:21-35, Lk 7:40-48


Source: Barnes’ New Testament Notes

Coventry Cathedral is one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation. Following the destruction of the Cathedral in 1940, Provost Howard made a commitment not to revenge, but to forgiveness and reconciliation with those responsible.

Using a national radio broadcast from the cathedral ruins on Christmas Day 1940 he declared that when the war was over he would work with those who had been enemies ‘to build a kinder, more Christ-child-like world.’

It was this moral and prophetic vision which led to Coventry Cathedral’s development as a world Centre for Reconciliation, which over the years has provided inspiration and support to many Christians addressing ongoing conflict in contemporary society.

forgiveness glass-window-540976_640 Website: Facebook: CCNCoventry Twitter: @ccncoventry THE COVENTRY LITANY OF RECONCILIATION Provost Richard Howard put the words “FATHER FORGIVE” on the wall behind the charred cross in the ruins of the destroyed cathedral in 1948, not “Father forgive Them”, because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Rom 3,23) These words moved generations of people and are prayed in the Litany of Reconciliation every Friday at noon outside in the ruins and on many other places around the world. The Litany of Reconciliation, based on the seven cardinal sins, was written in 1958 by Canon Joseph Poole, the first Precentor of the new Cathedral. It is a universal and timeless confession of humanity’s failings, but it evokes us to approach these sins and weaknesses in the forgiveness of God’s love. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class, Father, forgive.

The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own, Father, forgive.

The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father, forgive.

Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others, Father, forgive.

Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee, Father, forgive.

The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children, Father, forgive.

The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God, Father, forgive.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Sermon: Andy Littlewood 1 Feb 2015