“The better option” … and numbers in the Bible

Ari (a first year student Maths student) offers a reflection, in answer to questions on Matthew 18.21-25 – the Gospel reading for the Wednesday in the Third Week of Lent.  

“Is there a reason to forgive at all, since in this passage it has been portrayed as quite a logical thing?” 

It is the better option. God wants you to forgive people, and if you don’t, what are you doing? You will just be sitting around being grumpy about everyone. Forgiving is a better way to live your life. You surely will become a better person, and have a better relationship with people, the world, and God.

Do you think the unforgiving servant was treated fairly? After all, we only know that he was unforgiving this once.”

It is hard to say. I suppose we have to put it in context. Was Jesus being literal [in this parable], or was he trying to guide people to a certain direction. He used strong language such as torture to emphasise how important it is to forgive people when grudges were held. It is a warning to the people.

“I wonder as a Mathematician what do you think of Jesus’ use of numbers in his reply to Peter, and in the parable?”

I guess he was just indicating the comparative amount. Multiples of multiples. I don’t think he was using specific numbers. However, in other occasions, we do get very specific numbers, such as the 153 fish at the end of John’s Gospel. I guess when numbers are used they signify some sort of importance. Sometimes it may enforce the message, for emphasis, but I don’t think the numbers are that important here.

Thank you to Ari for her time, and for her thoughts.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
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