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This is a chronologically-ordered Bible site with commentary on each passage.
The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of SouthPointe Bible Fellowship in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the March 22 reading. Select here for a new reading date:

BibleTrack Summary: March 22
<< Matt 17
<< Mark 9
<< Luke 9
<< John 6

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Matthew 17:10-18:35; Mark 9:11-50     Listen Podcast
Luke 9:37-50; John 7:1-9


In these passages, we note the following in Jesus' ministry:



The Jews missed a big sign (Matthew 17:10-13; Mark 9:11-13)

Matthew 17
Mark 9
10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?
12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought.
13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.







Peter, James, and John have just seen Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36, see notes). These three are the "disciples" mentioned in Matthew 17:10. As they're trying to put everything into perspective with regard to Jesus being the Messiah and his necessity to die and resurrect, it occurs to them that the scribes are teaching that Elijah must first precede the coming of the Messiah. So, Jesus, what about that? The answer to this question is vital to understanding the Gospels. John the Baptist could have been Elijah, but the Jews rejected him as well as Jesus, so he was not. What is important to realize from this passage is that the Jews could have realized the Kingdom of God through the Messiah had they not rejected him. However, of course, the rejection was prophesied in the Old Testament as well. For a detailed look at Elijah/John the Baptist, see the window to the right or click here.

Jesus casts out a demon (Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-42)

Matthew 17
Mark 9
Luke 9
14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
14 And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.
15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.
16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?
17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.
27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
37 And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him.
38 And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.
39 And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.
40 And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.
41 And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.
42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.

We find the fullest account of this incident in Mark's Gospel. Jesus, along with Peter, James and John, are returning from the Transfiguration ((Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36, see notes). At this point they apparently are still in northern Israel around Caesarea Phillipi where they had arrived in Matthew 16:13/Mark8:27 (see notes). Jesus' remaining disciples had stayed behind and had made an attempt to cast a demon out of a man's son, but with no success. Jesus does cast the demon out, and as a result the boy is healed. We should point out here that not all sickness is to be attributed to demon possession. (See the article entitled "Trial versus Chastisement" for more details on this subject.) Notice the description of his symptoms in Mark 9:18, "And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away:" There's no question; today's doctors would have diagnosed this young man with some sort of extreme mental illness and medicated him, but Jesus concurs with the diagnosis of his father as demon possession. We see that Jesus' disciples had made a failed attempt. Apparently Jesus' remark was aimed at his disciples when he called them "faithless and perverse" because of their failure. Jesus must have sensed that the disciples were not praying for healing in the proper context of faith. After extricating the demon, Jesus is asked by his disciples why they were not able to do the same. Jesus points out that it was because of a lack of faith. How is this faith acquired? Jesus replies, "by prayer and fasting."

The Apostle Paul practiced fasting himself. Since fasting is mentioned in the New Testament approximately 31 times in 26 different verses (see below), it would be difficult to maintain that fasting is not a valid practice for Believers today. Isaiah dealt with the essence of fasting in Isaiah 58 (see notes).

Here are additional references to fasting found in the New Testament:

It is difficult from these passages to pull together a comprehensive doctrine on fasting, but it is obvious that the concept has not been invalidated under grace. It would appear that fasting is akin to importunity/persistence. It adds a level of sincerity and urgency to our petitions before God. Incidentally, God knows how sincere we are, but fasting may very well be the key that helps us realize how importantly we regard our own petition. In other words, fasting demonstrates an intensity in prayer that may not be demonstrated any other way.

Jesus prophesies his crucifixion (Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:43-45)

Matthew 17
Mark 9
Luke 9
22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men:
23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.
30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.
31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.
32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
43 And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. But while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,
44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.
45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Apparently Jesus and his disciples had been in northern Israel around Caesarea Phillipi where they had arrived in Matthew 16:13/Mark8:27 (see notes). Now they pass south through Galilee headed toward Capernaum where they arrive in Matthew 17:24 (see below).

We're still a few months out at this point, but here Jesus prophesies his betrayal, death and resurrection. I should point out again that Jesus was not captured, he surrendered himself to fulfill prophecy. Jesus was not murdered against his will, he gave himself freely. He clearly states the necessity of his crucifixion in John 3:14 (see notes), John 10:17-18 (see notes), John 12:31-33 (see notes), just to name a few references. All three synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) record the words of Jesus on this occasion as he prophesies, not only his betrayal and crucifixion, but his resurrection three days later as well. Mark and Luke point out that, while the disciples heard Jesus say it, they did not understand. Their lack of understanding regarding the necessity of the crucifixion is seen all the way up to the end of Jesus' earthly ministry.

A lesson on paying taxes (Matthew 17:24-27)

Matthew 17
24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

It is interesting to note the reason Jesus said they should pay the tax levied upon them in verse 27, "...lest we should offend them..." Isn't it interesting that the only account of this tax-paying incident is by the former tax collector, Matthew. Obviously Matthew wants us to know that Jesus complied with the taxation laws, a subject that did not interest Mark, Luke or John. The lesson is clear here: Pay your taxes for the sake of your testimony.

However, there's a little more to this story. This "tribute" (Greek: didrachmon, meaning two drachma) is specifically the temple tax specified in Exodus 30:11-16 (see notes). The tax was not levied on the Levites - just the men counted in the census 20 years-old and older. The exiles also agreed upon this temple tax when they returned to the land in Nehemiah 10:32 (see notes). The question Jesus asks of Peter is a general one regarding taxes when he refers in verse 25 to "custom or tribute." Neither of these words describe the (didrachmon) temple tax of verse 24, but are general words describing taxes. So, here's the question: When a king imposes a tax, does he collect it from his own children? Peter acknowledges that his own children do not pay the king-imposed taxes. Jesus confirms in this scenario that the king's children are, indeed, free from the king's imposed tax. Jesus then in verse 27 indicates that he, for that very reason, should be free from paying the temple tax, but directs Peter to comply for the sake of testimony. Here's the big question: Why should Jesus be free from paying the temple tax? The point is clear. The priests and the Levites were not responsible for paying the temple tax; it was their house (so to speak). Jesus, as the high priest, certainly should have been exempt. However, since he is not acknowledged as such at this point in time by the authorities, Jesus will pay the temple tax.

The salvation of small children (Matthew 18:1-7 Mark 9:33-42; Luke 9:46-50)

Matthew 18
Mark 9
Luke 9
1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,
48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

This incident takes place in Capernaum, a city located in Northern Israel on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee. This passage has often been used by many to assure that children who pass away before having received Jesus Christ as their personal savior still go to Heaven. While it is true that a child is not held accountable for his sin nature before maturing to a point of recognizing a need for Jesus Christ as savior, it does not appear that this is the passage that teaches that concept. Jesus is using the child as an analogy here to show that a relationship with God does not rest with the powerful or sophisticated, but with a child-like simplicity of the heart.

So, what about the salvation of small children. Where does the Bible teach that these little ones are safe? First of all, David had a clear understanding of the safety of small children in God on the occasion of the death of his first son born to Bathsheba. This was the child born to them out of their adulterous relationship who passed away shortly after birth. After praying, David says in II Samuel 12:23 (see notes), "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." There was a clear understanding in the Old Testament among God's people that they would be reunited with their little ones after death.

The Apostle Paul, in talking about sin and accountability, makes an interesting statement to this effect in Romans 7:9 (see notes), "For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." I ask you: When was Paul ever without the law? Look at his testimony in Philippians 3:5-6 (see notes), "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." Paul clearly indicates that, from his birth forward, he was an observant Jew who kept the law flawlessly. Yet, in Romans 7:9 he says that he "was alive without the law once." When was that, and when did the commandment come when sin revived and he died? He is surely referencing his childhood before he was held accountable for his own sin nature. Another reference that gives strength to this notion is Deuteronomy 1:39 (see notes), "Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it." It is clear from scripture that children are safe until they mature to the point of understanding sin and salvation. What age is that? It would obviously vary. This we know: Romans 10:17 (see notes) says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Our responsibility as parents is to expose our children to the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest.

It is worth noting, however, that the last verse in this discourse using the child as an object lesson, Jesus says the following in Matthew 18:14 (see below), "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." In light of the discussion on the salvation of children above, this verse lends strength to the doctrine of the safety of children.

Mark and Luke record an excerpt of the conversation on this occasion that Matthew does not in Mark 9:38-41 and Luke 9:49-50. It is triggered by Jesus' statement in Mark 9:37 as he is speaking of the children when he says, "Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me." To the Apostles, it doesn't seem right that someone would be casting out demons in the name of Jesus who is not physically walking and ministering with the Apostles themselves. Jesus' reply reinforces the understanding that discipleship cannot be understood in a single context. Click here and read the section entitled, "The difference between discipleship and salvation." In other words, it is important to understand the different calls to discipleship. Jesus acknowledges that not all disciples of Jesus necessarily accompanied Jesus during his earthly ministry.

Discipleship is not a casual affair (Matthew 18:8-9; Mark 9:43-50)

Matthew 18
Mark 9
8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

For people who wonder if it's okay to casually serve Christ, this passage should put that notion to rest. Mark most fully records Jesus' comments on discipleship on this occasion. Don't get hung up on the excision of body parts here. Obviously Jesus knew that a hand or foot does not have a mind of its own. The lesson here is whole-hearted discipleship. Our Lord seeks a full commitment from us on a continual basis as a matter of reasonable discipleship. Paul says the same in Romans 12:1-2 (see notes), "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." In other words, discipleship is not a casual affair; those who please Christ present themselves daily as a "living sacrifice" to God's direction.

So, who are these little ones? (Matthew 18:10-14)

Matthew 18
10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

In these five verses Jesus references the "little ones" and then begins a short discourse on lost sheep. Here it is important to realize that the child used in this illustration (see above) was to point out the lack of power and sophistication required for a relationship with God. When Jesus was preaching, the Sadducees and Pharisees were the powerful and sophisticated, but the everyday Jew was looked down upon as inferior. Jesus rejected the Jewish leaders and opted rather to minister to "the lost sheep" as we see in the following two verses:

Matthew 10:6 (see notes), "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Matthew 15:24 (see notes), "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

In this chapter, Jesus is again talking about these lost sheep (Jews) to whom he is presenting himself as their long-awaited Messiah, in compliance with Isaiah 9:1-7 (see notes). The Messianic message of Jesus as the King over the earth based in Jerusalem is the clear message of Jesus at this point in his ministry. So, the "little child" of this passage illustrates the simplicity of faith required for a relationship with God as compared to the sophisticated demeanor of the Jewish leadership which cut them off from God.

The scriptural basis for church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17)

Matthew 18
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Jesus makes reference to the "church" in this passage before there was a "church" per se. This word "church" comes from the Greek word "ekklesia" which literally means "called out assembly." Therefore, this passage relates to God's "called out assembly" then and now. Specifically, Jesus gives three steps on resolving conflicts within the assembly of those bound together by their common relationship with God.

Today, conflict resolution should be handled according to these four steps outlined in this passage:

  1. The offended party goes to the offender one on one to cite his grievance.
  2. If step one fails, the offended party goes back to the offender with one or two witnesses to cite his grievance.
    Patterned after Deuteronomy 19:15 (see notes), "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."
  3. If step two fails, the offended party, along with the witnesses cite the grievance to the church.
  4. If step three fails, the church excommunicates the offender from the church and treats him as though he were unsaved.
    The command of excommunication at the church of Corinth seen in I Corinthians 5:1-13 (see notes) is founded in this principle.

This is a painful process within a local body. For that reason, it is often ignored. Scripturally speaking, this is THE WAY the church is directed to handle disputes. Paul makes it clear in I Corinthians 6 (see notes) that the church at Corinth was miserably failing by airing out their disputes in court rather than at church among believers. Though unpleasant, conscientious church leadership see this process as their normal administrative duties in shepherding the flock of Believers entrusted to their care.

Jesus comments on the authority of Believers agreeing (Matthew 18:18-20)

Matthew 18
18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

In the preceding verses 15-17 (see above), Jesus described the process of Believers coming together for the purpose of dealing with a brother who has committed a trespass. In verse 17 they are told, "And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." That is immediately followed with verse 18 indicating that the strength of their decision has heavenly authority. This passage seems to endorse the heavenly authority of agreeing saints. Incidentally, it is improper use of scripture to deduct that the converse here is true - that the individual Believer lacks power without the assistance of another Believer. All Believers have the presence of the Holy Spirit within. As Believers are filled and led by the Holy Spirit, they experience the power of God as a normal occurrence in daily living - even without the presence of another Believer. Galatians 5:16-25 (see notes) describes the Holy Spirit's role in Believers' lives. The context here would seem to indicate corporate authority in matters like those described in verses 15-17.

The wording used by Jesus here seems to be identical to that in Matthew 16:19 (see notes) when Jesus told only Peter, "...whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." That context lends a different emphasis to this statement. That statement gave Peter, and only Peter, special authority. In this passage, the context is dealing with church lifestyle issues and is directed to all the disciples - not just Peter. In this passage, the "ye shall bind" and "ye shall loose" both are plural, second person verbs; Matthew 16:19 has singular verb forms, indicating that only Peter was the subject there.

What about forgiveness? (Matthew 18:21-35)

Matthew 18
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

You will notice that forgiveness is to be freely given WHEN REQUESTED. Let's pay close attention to the context in which this passage occurs...beginning back in verse 15 (see above), "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." The eventual outcome of the unrepentant offender in this passage is excommunication from the church - not forgiveness. This four-step process is often overlooked by many teachers today in the course of talking about the concept of forgiveness.

Take note of another passage of scripture on this issue when Jesus said in Luke 17:3 (see notes), "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him." Accountability is important. First of all, the offender or debtor should initiate the process of forgiveness by requesting it. Upon request, it is scripturally unacceptable to refuse to forgive. Conversely, it is inappropriate, according to Luke 17:3 (see notes), to forgive those who have requested no forgiveness. If they are never held to a position of accountability for their offense, their process of spiritual maturity may be slowed or thwarted.

Likewise, Jesus forgives us for our sin only when we request it. However, when one declines to ask for that forgiveness, it is not extended. The process of child training taught in scripture involves holding children accountable for offenses and forgiving them when they request it. It is not uncommon for parents who overlook the offenses of their children without rebuke and correction to end up visiting them in prison when they become adults. The prevalent teaching of extending forgiveness freely while requiring no accountability from the offender lacks a good, contextual scriptural foundation. I think the real point of this short-sighted teaching is rather that one gets a release from anger or anguish as a result of being offended. Therefore, the concept to be taught should be one of the Believer committing the wrongdoer to God for correction, and subsequently experience a personal release from responsibility for that wrongdoer so one can go on with one's life without continuing anguish.

You will notice that the parable Jesus uses equates forgiveness to releasing one from financial debt. Likewise, an offense against another is a debt that should be acknowledged by the debtor. Once acknowledged and forgiveness is sought, it should be freely given.

Let's go to Jerusalem! (John 7:1-9)

John 7
1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
2 Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.
3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.
4 For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.
5 For neither did his brethren believe in him.
6 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.
7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.
9 When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.

Chapter 7 has a curious first verse, "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him." While our English word "Jewry" is defined as "Jews collectively," here the word is translated from the Greek word ("Ioudaia") usually translated "Judea." In John 6 :26-59 (see notes), Jesus was addressing a group of Jewish leaders in the synagogue in Capernaum, up around the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. Jesus had declined to go to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast specified in John 6:4 (see notes). As a matter of fact, the last time Jesus had gone to Judea was for the "feast of the Jews" (probably Passover) in John 5:1 (see notes). That means that Jesus remained in Galilee for a year and a half ministering there - the time between John 5:1 and John 7:2. Therefore, John 7:1 is really the capper for the events up in Galilee recorded in John 6 :26-59 (see notes) where Jesus had a very confrontational meeting with the Jewish leaders. In actuality, when Jesus heads for Jerusalem for this "feast of tabernacles" in John 7:10 (see notes), John does not record him leaving Judea for the six months leading up to his crucifixion. However, the synoptic Gospel accounts do record Jesus ministering in Samaria and Perea during this six-month stretch of time. As a matter of fact, Luke records in Luke 17:11 (see notes) that Jesus did, in fact, make it back up to the Galilee region prior to his crucifixion.

So, now it's time to head back to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, a fall festival. This eight-day (Leviticus 23:33-36, see notes) feast (click here to see a summary of the Jewish festivals) was a very festive time in Jerusalem. Secular history tells us that at this point in time, whole towns would shut down to head into Jerusalem for this festival. The first day of this festival also marked the anniversary of the dedication of Solomon's Temple, as seen in I Kings 8:62-66 (see notes). Jesus' brethren obviously feel like it's time to show Jesus off to the big crowds that will be attending Jerusalem. They want these people to see his miracles. Verse 5 is curious, "For neither did his brethren believe in him." From the preceding verses, it's obvious they knew he was special. What they did not understand (believe) along with the rest of the Apostles was that Jesus must fulfill Isaiah's suffering scenario as the Messiah (Isaiah 52-53, see notes). That's the meaning of verse 5. They thought the object was to get large crowds to follow Jesus while the real objective was to fulfill prophecy. To them, the place to make it big was Jerusalem. Jesus declines to attend with them, but does follow later in John 7:10 (see notes).

For commentary on another passage, click here.

Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner