The bridge to the parable is Peter’s question: “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” (v. 21). The rabbis had been teaching that one should forgive an offense three times, but not beyond that. So Peter was probably thinking that he was going a long way toward mastering the spirit of Jesus when he suggested that one might actually forgive seven times.

The most important principle of all is that discipline is intended for the restoration of the sinner and not for his or her condemnation, still less for the self-justification of the offended party.

The way we develop character and master godly conduct is one step at a time, and the disciples were learning it—not very fast perhaps but surely. They had asked about being great in Christ’s kingdom and had been taught that greatness begins with humility, like that of a child. They had been taught to avoid sin and were warned about causing another person to sin, especially a new or weak believer. But what if the other person sins against you? The answer to that question was Jesus’ next important lesson.

Today we conclude our list of important things this parable teaches us about God.

5. God’s pursuit of the lost is effective. We might suppose, if all we are thinking about is the parable of the prodigal, that the son might not have returned and that the love of the father might have been frustrated. But that is not what Jesus was getting at. In the first two parables in Luke 15 the shepherd finds the lost sheep and the woman finds the lost coin. All Jesus is emphasizing is God’s joy over recovering whatever had been lost. This is what he means in Matthew too, for in Matthew Jesus says, “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (v. 14). And, of course, they are not. The Father seeks for them until he finds them and brings them home.

Why should we focus on angels when it is God who is our Savior? The parable tells us many important things about God. We have already looked at two points: 1) God cares for us individually, and 2) God understands our weaknesses. In today’s lesson we look at the third and fourth point.