Father may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Who here knows the story of the crossing of the red sea? Excellent.
Now who here thinks that this story is still relevant today?
My favourite part of the Exodus reading set today is “the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea” now bear with me, you might be thinking what has this got to do with the Gospel reading today?
I will show you.
In the Gospel Jesus is teaching about forgiveness. Peter wants to know the limit on how much he should bear if another person in the church sins against him. Last week we heard from Katherine who taught us about the prescription of how we travel together to be a healthy church. And here Peter is asking for a little clarity about how often he should forgive. Jesus says not seven times but I tell you 77 times.
This seems like a very big challenge.
So I want to come back to the Old Testament reading, where the Lord tells Moses to stretch his hand over the sea and they will pass safely.
There is this wonderful image here of God paving the way of his people.
He spilt the sea to help them walk forward with him, to be close to him, to foster a relationship of intimacy, love, and trust.
There is another fantastic image of the water being moved to help God’s people keep walking forward, it is in the book of Joshua chapter 3. The Priests are carrying the ark of the covenant “God’s word” across the river Jordan. The Lord says to them that as soon as the Priests feet touch the water it will move. And sure enough it does and they again cross safely.
So lets go back to Peter and Jesus.
Jesus is giving Peter the advice he needs to keep walking forward, even when facing the sea of hatefulness and opposition. Forgiveness is the promise that Jesus gives to Peter, that if he keep forgiving the sea will part from his feet and he will continue to walk on dry land following the will of God and in his promise of love and ultimately a place in the kingdom.
I want you all to imagine that all the things we encounter, pain, anger, injustice, anxiety, loneliness, fear, is like facing a wall of sea. God promises us to help us cross this sea by the power of His love, forgiveness, that when we place our feet into those frightening waters they will spilt, and we can keep moving forward.
Forgiveness does not diminish the things that happen to us, or turn us into doormats, it makes us stronger because we lean on the Lord and be honest and tell Him how hurt we are.
Take heart that not long after the Israelites crossed the sea they started to complain! And the disciples themselves scattered at the Crucifixion. We all need the Father’s love, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and Jesus’ power of forgiveness.
In these times of uncertainty it feels like we are facing a wall of water, but God promises to split the sea and help us to keep walking in the way of the Lord, to love and trust God, to forgive and keep on forgiving just like he does.
May we trust in God’s ways to forgive and keep walking with Him, may the seas that we face spilt, and may our hearts be open to his word.