“Because many are so accustomed to hearing about the importance of forgiveness, it surprises to hear that forgiveness gets a new shape with Jesus. Forgiveness doesn’t appear in any of Moses’ lists of commandments. In all the prayers of David, we don’t find the prayers concerned with forgiving one another. And, the prophets don’t call Israelites to forgive one another.” While I think McKnight is correct in his observation, I can’t help but notice how patient, loving, tolerant God was with Israel. He didn’t wipe them out when they deserved it. Perhaps we’re influence by reading the Old Testament with Christian eyes.

McKnight writes, “Judaism overall is more concerned with guaranteeing justice than with forgiving incorrigible sinners, whereas Christianity, at least in its foundational prayer and creeds, is not in its actions, talks more of forgiveness as an act of grace, given even to the undeserving and not-yet-repentant, than of justice.” Judaism is much more about “punish the sinners.” This is not to deny forgiveness in the Old Testament.

As McKnight observes, “Forgiveness is a ‘God thing.'” He shares, “Forgiveness begins with God’s loving act of forgiving. It suspends any system of justice: Instead of sinful humans getting what they deserve (a system of justice), they are granted forgiveness (a system of forgiveness).”

Can you think of forgiveness stories in the Old Testament? (McKnight focuses on Joseph.) Is justice ignored in the New Testament? (I don’t believe so.) How does God offer forgiveness and preserve his justice?