Faith to Forgive.

Sycamore Tree in Israel.

One of my problems in reading the Bible is that I take many things Jesus said as being literal. The disciples had this problem too. When Jesus said to sell your cloak and buy a sword, it sounded like advice to have a sword in case people persecuted you. But this flies in the face of the other things Jesus said about turning the cheek and loving your enemies.

Most commentators of the Bible say Jesus was not being literal. And I believe they are right since when Peter cut off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, Jesus healed the man and told Peter not to use the sword.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

 “At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spoke only of the weapons of the spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciples of Christ must furnish themselves.” 

Whenever I would read what Jesus said about moving a mountain into the sea if we had enough faith, I would wonder what he really meant. Then I read someone say the mountain represented difficulties in our lives. They said in the Old Testament, mountains represented difficulties,and that made sense.

Today, I was reading Luke 17 and Jesus spoke about the Sycamore or Mulberry tree. He said, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea and it would obey you.’”

He said this in answer to his disciples who had asked him, “Increase our faith.” And they asked him to do this after he had spoken about forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness they thought impossible for them.

“Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repent, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn to you, you shall forgive him.”

So, uprooting a sycamore tree is impossible for anyone to do; therefore, if you think it is impossible for you to forgive over and over, you are wrong. Faith in God will make it possible for you.

This is what I read in some commentaries this morning:

Pulpit Commentary

“The Lord signifies that a very slight real faith, which he compares to the mustard seed, that smallest of grains, would be of power sufficient to accomplish what seemed to them impossible. In other words, he says, “If you have any real faith at all, you will be able to win the victory over yourselves necessary for a perpetual loving judgement of others.”

Barne’s Notes on the Bible

“This sycamore is a remarkable tree. It not only bears several crops of figs during the year but these figs grow on short stems along the trunk and large branches, and not at the end of twigs, as in other fruit-bearing trees. The figs are small and of a greenish-yellow color.

It is easily propagated, merely by planting a stout branch in the ground and watering it until it has struck its roots into the soil. This it does with great rapidity and to a vast depth. It was with reference to this latter fact that our Lord selected it to illustrate the power of faith.”

Thinking of all this reminds me of the fires of hell preachers talk about. I believe the fire is symbolic of something else.What would be the point of God burning people who are lost? Punishment? Punishment is supposed to be restorative. Actual, physical burning? I don’t think so. Being burned is very painful, and I think when the wicked realize they are lost,it is like a burning in their soul. A terrible pain in their heart at seeing what they have given up because they loved darkness rather than light.

12 thoughts on “Faith to Forgive.

  1. Hey, Belle, it’s been awhile. Loved this post! Such an important topic. Our failure to recognize Jesus’ use of hyperbole, a key part of his rabbinic approach, has led to so many misunderstandings and missed opportunities for spiritual growth among believers. Thank you. And a belated Merry Christmas to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:
    My Featured Blogger this week is Belle Unruh of Who Is God? Belle isn’t a preacher or teacher, but rather an unassuming, down-to-earth Jesus follower, whose self-description reads, “I am a daughter, sister, wife of God. This is all I need to be. It is all I want to be.”

    In her posts, she seeks real answers to the kinds of questions real people ask. She trusts God completely, but is never afraid to ask, “Why?”

    In other words, she’s one of us.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I will chime in here and offer my perspective on your question, not intending to answer for the original author. I believe God’s vision for the ultimate fulfillment of human existence (i.e., joy) is communion with God. Complete and unending communion. Under that definition then heaven would be eternal, undying communion with God and hell would be eternal separation from God. And I really can’t think of a better description of eternal separation from God than being subjected to a “lake of fire.”

        That is my two cents worth.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it symbolized complete annihilation. Fire burns up everything and leaves ashes. God says, “They will be ashes under the soles of your feet.” Malachi 4:3 It also says, “God is a consuming fire, and “They will be burned up, root and branch.” Malachi 4:1 It says, “Death and Hell were thrown into the lake of fire.The lake of fire is the second death.” Rev. 20:14 So to me, the lake of fire represents eternal death.

        Like

  3. Thanks for sharing! You made me think of this one – The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:14

    Liked by 1 person

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