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This is the New King James text of the passages.
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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 do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
11 ¶ Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.
12 But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands.”
13 Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.

11 ¶ And they asked Him, saying, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
12 ¶ Then He answered and told them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?
13 But I say to you that Elijah has also come, and they did to him whatever they wished, 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 had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,
15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but 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 bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 ¶ Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”
20 ¶ So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
14 ¶ And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them.
15 Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him.
16 And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”
17 ¶ Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit.
18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.”
19 ¶ He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”
20 Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth.
21 ¶ So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” ¶ And he said, “From childhood.
22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
23 ¶ Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
24 ¶ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
25 ¶ When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!”
26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so 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 had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?”
29 ¶ So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
37 ¶ Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him.
38 Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child.
39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.
40 So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”
41 ¶ Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
42 And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back 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 wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid." 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 ¶ Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men,
23 and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.
30 ¶ Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it.
31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.”
32 But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.
43 ¶ And they were all amazed at the majesty of God. ¶ But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples,
44 “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”
45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this 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 ¶ When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”
25 ¶ He said, “Yes.” ¶ And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”
26 ¶ Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” ¶ Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.
27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”

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 "tax" (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 taxes." 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 that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 ¶ Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,
3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6 ¶ “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
33 ¶ Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?”
34 But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.
35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
36 Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them,
37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”
38 ¶ Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”
39 ¶ But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.
40 For he who is not against us is on our side.
41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
42 ¶ “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.
46 ¶ Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest.
47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a little child and set him by Him,
48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great.”
49 ¶ Now John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”
50 ¶ But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

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; why 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), "I was alive once without the law, 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, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning 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 once without the law." 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 and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will 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 comes 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 who 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, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who 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 ¶ “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—
44 where
“Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—
46 where
“Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire—
48 where
“Their worm does not die
And the fire is not quenched.’
49 ¶ “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.
50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one 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 you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you 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 you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
12 ¶ “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?
13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who 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 was not sent except to 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 your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’
17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

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 against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall 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 ¶ “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 ¶ “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there 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 refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector." 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, "...whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will 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 "you bind" and "you 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 Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 ¶ Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.
24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, “Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 ¶ “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’
29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’
30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.
33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 ¶ “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his 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 your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your 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 your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, 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 did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.
2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.
3 His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.
4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”
5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
6 ¶ Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.
7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.
8 You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.

Chapter 7 has a curious first verse, "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him." While the KJV word is "Jewry," here the word is translated from the Greek word ("Ioudaia") usually translated "Judea," as is the case in the NKJV. 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 even His brothers did not 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).