“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
In the Bible, there is a festival or celebration called “Jubilee.” For the Israelites, after seven cycles of seven years (49 years), there would be a sabbatical year during the 50th year. This was called the Year of Jubilee. You can read all about it in Leviticus 25.
Whenever this year came for the Israelites, an extraordinary thing happened. Slaves, prisoners, and captives were set free; property was returned to its original owners; and all financial debts were forgiven. During this Year of Jubilee, both the land and the people were given the opportunity to rest.
When Jesus came onto the scene, he did something that made some people really happy and others very angry. In Luke 4, Jesus walks into a synagogue and reads a portion of Scripture that comes from Isaiah. Jesus says this:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
Luke then writes that Jesus,
“Rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus is announcing that the Year of Jubilee has come in him! In Jesus, captives are released, slaves are freed, and debts are forgiven!
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, you and I are now freed from the slavery of sin and our debt has been forgiven!
Because of this, we are to forgive others when they are indebted to us.
During the Year of Jubilee, God commanded the Israelites to set people free and forgive debts because “It is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 25:55).
As Christians, we live in a time of perpetual Jubilee because Jesus has forgiven us from the debt of sin. We are no longer slaves to sin, but servants of righteousness (Romans 6:16-23)!
That is good news! That calls for celebration! That calls for Jubilee!
As you reflect on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12 today, think about these questions:
- How does Jesus’ forgiveness resonate with you?
- How can you imitate God and forgive someone who has wronged you?
- What would a life of “Jubilee” look like for you today?