Notes from Steve:
September 17, 2023
“Providing an Escape”
(Exodus 14:19-31, Matthew 18:21-35)
I have always enjoyed reading the magazine “Reader’s Digest,” especially the “Drama in Real Life” article each month. Typically, each drama in real life story details someone in a life or death situation, with happy news at the end of the story as the people experience deliverance from their dire circumstances. Today’s story from Exodus is quite the drama in real life account, isn’t it?
The story is a familiar one-Moses, in leading the people from captivity toward freedom finds the Red Sea in their way, with an advancing army coming toward them to recapture them. God provides for Moses and his people an escape, assuring their passage from slavery to freedom. We see this theme carried in with Jesus’ teaching from Matthew, although it is not as obvious.
The passage from Matthew is about forgiveness. When we offer forgiveness, we too-provide an escape for others and ourselves from slavery to freedom. It is important to acknowledge the following about forgiveness:
To understand our need for forgiveness. God intends for us to live in relationship with him and each other in a certain way, which is summed-up with Jesus’ words: Love God with all you are, and love others as yourself. Obviously, we don’t always do either of these things. Instead, our words and actions cause pain in the lives of others and ourselves. When we don’t acknowledge our need for forgiveness, we are like the psalmist in Psalm 32 who feels tremendously burdened (read Psalm 32:1-5.)
To understand the importance of offering forgiveness to those who have wronged you, and who have missed the mark of living as God intends. We see a powerful example of such forgiveness when Jesus forgives the woman caught in adultery, as explained in John 8:10-11. While others pick-up stones to stone her, Jesus offers words of forgiveness. How liberating this must have been for this woman! While Jesus tells her not to sin anymore, he offers words of forgiveness-providing an escape from slavery to sin to freedom.
To understand that forgiveness, both offering it and receiving it, is hard work at times. We don’t have switch inside us we can turn off and on when it comes to forgiveness. Yet we can choose to walk in the direction of forgiveness, to choose to work at it instead of choosing not forgive. Eventually, liberation and freedom come when seeking or accepting forgiveness is chosen.
As we remember the story of God providing an escape for his people through the Red Sea (providing and escape from slavery to freedom) we also acknowledge Jesus’ teaching of forgiveness. By offering forgiveness to others, and accepting forgiveness, we provide an escape from slavery to freedom. May it be so for us!