Consider why Jesus chose the words “debt,” “trespasses,” and “sin” when giving us the Lord’s Prayer

Tuesday, February 19, 2013, Part 3

“In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:9-12).

IDEA: How we talk about the petition for forgiveness throws light on what we are asking for.

PURPOSE: To help listeners consider how different words about our sin create different pictures in our heads about what we are asking for.

How well do you know the Lord’s prayer?

Have you ever prayed this prayer with a new group of Christians and stumbled a bit when you came to the request for forgiveness? Why?

Different translations of the Bible use different words for “sins.” Does this make any difference?

I. Forgive us our TRESPASSES:

What picture comes to your mind when you think of “trespasses”?

How does this show up in life?

Have you ever deliberately stepped over any boundaries?

II. Forgive us our DEBTS:

“Debt” was not a normal way to speak of sin in the Greek world.

It was a term in later Judaism used as a metaphor. Men and women are in arrears in their good works and thus fall into debt with God.

Jesus uses the word several times in the Gospels: We are God’s debtors. We owe him everything. We are his creatures, and we can never pay him what we owe.

What picture forms in your mind when you think of sin as a “debt” owed?

How big a debt do you owe (Matthew 18)?

The emphasis of the New Testament is not the unmaking but the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus’ enemies could not understand what that meant in His table fellowship with sinners in Luke 15.

How do we pile up moral debt that we can’t pay? Have you ever felt that?

III. Forgive us our SINS: We have “missed the mark.”

What picture comes to your mind when you think of “missing the mark”?

What might that look like in our conduct?

Conclusion:

Whether “trespasses,” “debts,” or “sins,” these separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2) and they often separate us from other people.