August 18, 2014

Matthew 15:13-14 Jesus shrugged it off. “Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. (The Message Bible)

I’m not a scholar when it comes to the original languages the Bible was written in, but I did pass my courses in them during seminary and I learned enough to use the reference materials. I try to check out the Greek text of the New Testament for the passage I’m preaching on each week and sometimes I find things that interest me, even when I don’t fully understand them. Like this week. In the passage above the translator of the Message Bible uses the phrase “Forget them” in Jesus’ instructions to his followers regarding the religious authorities. In the version we have in our pew bible it says “leave them.” When I looked it up I found it was a word I’d seen before- except in other places it was translated “forgive.” It’s the word used in the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12) and Jesus’ famous words from the cross “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). It is a different tense but the same word. “That’s fascinating” you are no doubt thinking, “but what difference does it make.” Maybe no difference- like I said I’m not a scholar of these things. But it made me think about the connection between leaving and forgiving. Jesus knew he wasn’t going to change the minds of these particular people. Could it be that in those situations forgiveness is simply walking away without trying to conquer or continue the confrontation. Jesus will blast the Pharisees with some harsh language later in the Gospel of Matthew, but perhaps here he was helping his disciples understand forgiveness by having them walk away; not continue the fight, not plan how to retaliate, not sulk or stew, just walk away. Is there someone in your life God would have you forgive by leaving them be or a particular instance with them to walk away from?

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