Conversations On the Way to Heaven: Get Along Back There!

this was the destination of so many of our trips, My Aunt and Uncles home in North Andover…..those trips had some great times, and some challenges…

Conversations on the Way to Heaven:

#1  Get Along Back There!

Matthew 18:21-55

† IHS †

May our journey together always be filled with God’s joy and peace, as His mercy flavors every moment!

A Bajillion Hours crammed in the back seat… 

I remember every twist and turn, as if it was yesterday, and not 42 years ago.

Everyone went and got in the old yellow Dodge Dart.  Up two miles on Brookdale Road, the right onto North Policy, then right onto Pelham Road.  Up onto route 93, then route 213, then southwest on route 495, off the highway on Mass Ave, then right on Fernwood to my Auntie Lanie’s and Uncle Wally’s house, where Thanksgiving Dinner and my favorite French onion dip awaited.

I remember so much of the drive, the rest area we never stopped at, the Mall and the golf course, going over the Merrimack River on the double decker bridge, and along its banks the dump and the reform school,  My dad always remembered to point that out for some reason.   Some great memories, and well some challenging one’s as I squeezed into the middle seat between my older brother and little sister.

I looked it up on google maps this week – it was 12 miles, 18 minutes in no traffic. I swear there were times that it seemed like a bazillion hours.

And as we look into conversations that occur on the way to heaven, this was the often heard phrase,

“Get along back there!”

Which was usually followed by something like, well we will hear those in the weeks to come!

Why is it so difficult to get along with each other?  Why do we hear these same kinds of conversations today?  As Jesus, guiding our journey, hears not only our words, but our thoughts, it is difficult to hear him asking us to get along!

Get Along back there?

In today’s gospel, the words of Peter so sound like one of my siblings.  “Do I have to forgive my brother?  Do I have to forgive my sister?  Peter’s not as blatant as my brother and sister were, he asks, “how many times do I have to forgive?”  But you know if Jesus said 7, Peter was going to go to his brother Andrew and tell him he was at 7 already…and so the next time? You do it again Andrew, and you will pay for it!

But the base question is the same – do we have to forgive those who sin against us?

The answer is, of course yes.  We are people that believe in reconciliation.

It’s not a measure of the law, but a description of those who live the life of the baptized, those who live in a relationship where Jesus has reconciled them to the Father, and they are His children together.

That Is why Jesus tells the parable about the two slaves, they both belong to the same household, they are, legally, family.  Yet the first man, although forgiven that which he was to pay back, refuses to forgive the debt of the other man. Even to the point of visiting violence on the other slave.

Sounds like one of those backseat things – even up to the contact.

Why do we fight, and why do we struggle to forgive each other, when the dust settles? Haven’t we heard jesus’ 7 times 70 enough, or this parable?  Don’t we realize that we’re the ones who sins cannot be paid for in a thousand lifetimes, and we are willing to collect the debt for what is petty in comparison?

That sin you are holding onto, that pain, that resentment, how does it rate against the pain that your sin has caused God?  You have decades of it?  Do you really want that sin dividing the body of Christ Jesus?

I realized something this week as I was going over all three readings today.  There is account after account in scripture of how we are bound together, how we worship together, how we feast and fellowship together, how we endure together, how we face persecution and even die, together.  In all these things we are together, weeping together and rejoicing together.  What happens to one, happens to all.  What happens to all effects each one?

One exception, verse 12 of our epistle.

12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God.

Hearing that, we come back to the gospel….

33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters* from your heart.”

Faith if God is where we find the strength….

So what do we do? How do we find the ability to really forgive, to give no more thought to the debt incurred by sin?

Well Peter and Andrew weren’t the only brothers in the readings this morning.  There was also Joseph in the Old Testament Reading.  You know, the guy who his loving brothers kicked out of the back of the family station wagon, and sold to wandering merchants?

Look at how he forgave his brothers…

19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.

Can you see those words of Joseph coming from your mouth, to those who have sinned against you?  What do you think their reaction would be?  What do you think yours would be?

The sinners who thought their brother would grab them by the neck in revenge, he gave up that right, because of the work of God in all their lives.  A work that saved their physical lives.

We have something more incredible, something more beyond thought, in the work of Christ, who doesn’t just forgive 490 sins of ours, Heck, that is just this week!  He’s the master who forgives us all, who brings us home to the Father in heaven, cleansed, pure, holy.  Who gave up everything to make that happen, because He loves us. Who endured the pain of the cross, because of His love for us.

If Joseph could forgive, knowing the blessing of God seen in the saving his people from famine, we should be even more eager to let them know the gospel.  That every sin was paid for on the cross, that we have been forgiven a world of sin.  That is what the communion feast celebrates!

We are a forgiven family, we are brought together on a journey home, to heaven, to a feast.  We are called to love each other, even if for a moment we struggle with it – we still love, and we shall forgive, even as we are forgiven.

For that is what the Holy Spirit is transforming us into, giving us the ministry of reconciliation, the ministry mercy.  The Spirit’s transforming all of us who trust in Christ’s work, and the promises made to us, which we hear in His word.

So drop all the burdens, drop all the sins an rejoice in Christ’s peace…look to Christ, and find that we are all getting along on this journey in peace! AMEN?

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on September 14, 2014, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Charlotte Johnson

    Had this a few days just read it so true it touched me because I had someone to forgive & forget my pain. I am free tonight then you quote ” All God requires of us is to be just and love mercy Micah6:8 my favorite. I know I’ve been set free of this burden. Thank you. You have shown me what is good. You may wonder how did a girl from Texas find you A God thing I’m Dr. Bill Dasch mother in law from Mansfield, Texas St. John Lutheran Church. You were on his FB friend. I really enjoy reading your travels and your post. Bless You.

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