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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 15: Matthew 18:21-20:34, by Kevin M. Williams

To help illustrate this point, we’ll quote a story about a rabbi and his guests at Sabbath dinner. According to the book from which this story originates, it is a true story, and not merely a parable.

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Herman often had twenty to thirty people at his Sabbath table, people from all walks of life who had gathered to enjoy his family’s hospitality. It happened that one Sabbath afternoon Rabbi Herman put on a new and costly dinner jacket, given to him by a close relative. He passed from guest to guest ladling out steaming soup into large soup bowls.

One of the guests present was emotionally unstable. When Rabbi Herman set his portion of hot soup in front of him, the guest shouted, “I don’t like this!” He picked up the soup bowl in his hands and flung it at Rabbi Herman’s chest, sending all the contents flying onto Rabbi Herman’s costly jacket.

Everyone at the table drew back in one motion, horrified. The family members sat aghast. The guest looked down at his hands, at the bowl on the floor, then lifted his head and dazedly looked around the table. Frightened at what he had done, he jumped from his chair and bolted out the door.

Rabbi Herman placed the ladle and soup pot on the table and raced after him. In a few minutes he returned with the guest, bits of onions and beans still clinging to his coat, and with a gentle arm guided the still frightened man to the table. He put out a new place setting and said in a soothing voice, “Don’t worry, I will give you another bowl of soup that you will like.”

Later, as he was trying to wipe off his coat, someone came up to him and said, “Tell me, how do you have the patience to deal with people like that?” Rabbi Herman shrugged and continued wiping at his coat, “If you have compassion, you don’t need patience.”3

In other words, if someone sins against you, offering false forgiveness in a personal attempt to achieve mental peace is not as healthy, as productive, and does not achieve the kind of genuine reconciliation that being moved with compassion for the sinner may achieve. As Yeshua promises, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35).

The pattern set before us by God Himself is that the world is full of ungrateful and evil people and even though justice would tug on our hearts to scorn them, we, like our Father, are to love them.

Forgive with a whole heart when someone asks your forgiveness. When they do not ask your forgiveness, then choose the higher, more difficult but more spiritual path: love them.


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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2004, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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