Jesus’ most compressed, succinct statement about forgiveness is recorded in Luke 17:3-4. We read His words in the larger context of verses 1-5:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them, and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
In Luke 17, Jesus set forth high values for His followers. Strikingly, His message was built from a warning: “So watch yourselves” (v. 3). On the one hand, we need to guard against causing others to sin.
On the other hand, we need to resist the temptation to keep
those who have sinned against us in an emotional penalty box, making them serve endless time for their offenses.
The statement about forgiving seven times in one day was so counterintuitive that it caused the Lord’s hearers to cry out: “Increase our faith!” (v. 5). The disciples knew that they needed Jesus’ help to be that forgiving.