91. Unconditional forgiveness.
Forgiveness under the old covenant was conditional and therefore Jesus taught the large crowds that had gathered, thus: "Forgive and you will be forgiven."(Luke 6:37) When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them to say: "Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors", because he explained it thus: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:12,14-15) This condition was meant to compel men to forgive others if they themselves needed the forgiveness of God. However, many couldn't receive his forgiveness because they themselves couldn't forgive others. 'For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.'( Romans 8:3) God did something contrary to the law and radical with the death of Christ. All men were forgiven unconditionally because Jesus, 'the Lamb of God took away the sin of the world' (John 1:29) and by the shedding of his blood, all were forgiven. The new standard set under the new covenant, was therefore rephrased in the epistles, differently from what we read in the Gospels. So Paul wrote: 'Forgive as the Lord forgave you.' (Colossians 3:13) It's no longer a choice for us but mandatory that every believer forgives others who have against them or else they end up staking their own salvation, as it happened to the unmericiful servant in the parable, who was turned over to the jailers to be tortured. "This is how your heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." (Matthew 18:35) A Christan should have no enemies because Christ didn't! Ofcourse, there were many who hated him for no reason but he forgave them and prayed for them. The Lord's prayer would then have to be rephrased to accommodate the new standard set by Jesus. It would then be said as follows: "We forgive others their sins as you forgave us who sinned against you." Amen.