Forgiveness: How Far Is Too Far?

Guest-blog post from Dr. Matt Williams of the Deeper Connections DVD Bible Studies
Do you ever feel like you are too far gone for God to forgive you? Or, maybe you feel like he might forgive you, but he does it grudgingly? This fear is the main reason that I published The Forgiveness of Jesus because nothing could be further from the truth.
When Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector (Matthew 9:9-13), it shows us that God seeks out the lowest of the low in order to show that he loves to forgive. But in order to fully understand the meaning of this text, we must understand the first century context. When we take the time to learn this historical context, the passage comes to life!
Matthew was a wealthy, Jewish man who worked for the hated Romans, who controlled Israel in the first century. Since he worked for the occupying power (Rome), Matthew was seen as a traitor. Tax collectors were despised in Jesus’s day. Matthew loved money more than his own Jewish people and traditions. He had sold his soul to the pagan superpower of the first century. In addition, tax collectors were famous for being dishonest and greedy. Matthew was a sinful traitor who loved money more than righteousness. Certainly, there would be no place for him in the kingdom of God, right? Wrong.
Jesus constantly surprises us. Not only does he not shun or avoid Matthew, he seeks out this hated tax collector to follow him. Matthew responds by getting up out of his tax collector’s chair and walking away from the whole operation. Matthew’s break with his past is radical—he burned all the bridges that would fuel his future in order to follow Jesus. A celebration is in order! Matthew has been forgiven.

Matthew decides to invite his best friends, who are described as “tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:10), to a dinner with Jesus. In that culture, sitting down for a meal with someone was extremely significant. The practice, known as “table fellowship,” was reserved for intimate friends and implied that you accepted them into your fellowship. Of course, by eating with these so-called sinners, Jesus wasn’t endorsing their behavior, but he is willing to be misunderstood in order to extend God’s grace and forgiveness to even the worst of sinners. Perhaps some of these “sinners” will leave their life of sin and begin to follow Jesus.
Jesus states, “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (9:13b). Jesus did not come into this world to avoid sinful people, but to call them to a new life as a follower of Jesus, leaving their sinful lifestyle behind them. Jesus separated himself from sin itself, from evil deeds, but he never isolated himself from sinful people. He reached out to Matthew, a sinful tax collector, and today he continues to do the same. You are never too far gone for Jesus. He continues to call us to return to him, and welcomes us to the table.

Dr. Matt Williams, Biola University — the associate professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, La Mirada, California. A former missionary to Spain, Matt preaches and teaches at churches throughout the United States and Spain. He is general editor of Colección Teológica Contemporánea, a series of theological books in Spanish, and is the author of two books on the Gospels. Click here to learn more about Dr. Williams’ new DVD Series The Forgiveness of Jesus DVD Bible Study.

Forgiveness of Jesus DVD-based Study

Forgiveness of Jesus DVDOverall Rating: 5 Stars

Be refreshed and encouraged as you enrich your understanding of the depths of Jesus’ love, grace, and forgiveness with this 6-session DVD study!

Unlike other DVD studies available, this visually-stunning DVD study is written and taught by 6 biblical experts with specialized areas of knowledge who add a fresh perspective to well-known parables and miracles of Jesus, including Jesus healing the paralytic; dining with sinners; the restoration of Peter; the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and more!

Each session begins with a brief introduction from Israel that provides insight into each story’s cultural setting and is then shot from a variety of relevant locations that add depth to the teaching, including Arizona’s slot canyons, Glen Eyrie Castle, Lake Pleasant, and more. The diverse settings become a backdrop to the teaching, deepening your understanding of each miracle.

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Deepen Your Understanding of 6 Powerful Parables and Stories of Forgiveness

Many of Jesus’ greatest teachings on forgiveness occur while he’s healing someone or even breaking cultural expectations. The crowds were amazed by his power to heal. But Jesus was showing them a greater truth— the power of forgiveness.

Session Overview—

  • The Forgiving Father: Parable of the Prodigal Son
  • Two Aspects of Healing: Jesus Forgives the Paralytic
  • Spiritual Sight: Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
  • Hope for Sinners: Jesus’ Dinner Invitation
  • A Second Chance: Jesus Restores Peter
  • Released to Forgive: Jesus Heals a Woman on Sabbath

Get this ready-to-use DVD Bible Study and its downloadable leader guide for just $29.99 (Value $39.98).

“Taught by seasoned scholars and teachers of the New Testament, this series of videos will help you grow in your understanding of God’s Word, find faithful applications of the text in life, and come to know Jesus better. I gladly recommend it.” — Kenneth Berding, Ph.D., Professor, Talbot School of Theology at Biola University
“With introductions to each lesson set on location in Israel, these videos provide viewers the physical, historical, and cultural context in which to understand Jesus’ teachings about God’s forgiveness as they would originally have been heard… Each lesson is articulate, insightful, and personal, allowing Jesus to speak compellingly to us today. I enthusiastically recommend this series.”— Dr. Jon Lunde, New Testament professor, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

This Ready-to-Use DVD Study Offer Everything You Need:

6 Teaching Sessions on DVD

 Forgiveness of Jesus DVD

FREE Downloadable Leader Guide

 Forgiveness of Jesus DVD

Plus! Optional participant guides are available! Perfect for personal study, church small group, or Sunday school! Click here for more information.

4 Key Features of the Forgiveness of Jesus DVD Study

  1. Engaging Footage of Israel—Begins with a short journey through the places Jesus walked to help you experience the historical context like never before. Travel to relevant locations, such as: Western Wall, the Sea of Galilee; Capernaum; the area of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; and much more!
  2. Solid and Easy-to-Understand Teaching — Imagine being able to sit down with some of today’s top scholars and hear their insight. Features experts from Wheaton College, Biola University, Talbot School of Theology, and Dallas Theological Seminary.
  3. Practical Life Applications— With modern-day illustrations, thought-provoking questions, and real-life examples, these lessons will encourage your small group and congregation to put Jesus’ lessons into action.
  4. Audio Bible Reading—Offers an optional dramatic audio Bible reading for the key text in each session.

Add depth to your understanding of the New Testament with this Forgiveness of Jesus DVD study. Get it for just $29.99 today.

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“Matt Williams brings a unique combination of trustworthy biblical scholarship, decades of teaching experience, and absolutely engaging communication skills. The Forgiveness of Jesus is sure to invite you and your group on an adventure of mind, heart, and Christ-following community.” — Dr. James Petitfils, Pastor and Bible professor
“Forgiveness of Jesus DVD/workbook is a wonderful resource…taught by seasoned New Testament scholars who are committed to bringing the message of Scripture into real life. I happily recommend it.”— Dr. Ken Berding, Biola University

Find Out Fascinating Facts That Will Add Depth To Your Understanding

Find out fascinating facts as you get a solid overview of the miracles of Jesus. Enjoy learning important background information, cultural context, and incredible insight, including:

  • In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it was incredibly shameful in Jewish culture for the father to run because in order to do so, he had to lift his floor-length robes and expose his bare legs.
  • Tax collectors (known as tax farmers) actually bought the right to become a tax collector. They could set the “tax rates” for those in their region to whatever they wanted. They were hated because of this.
  • The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth. It’s salt content is so high you can’t even swim in it; you can only float.
  • In first-century Jewish society, to eat with sinners also meant to refrain from condemning them.

Get this ready-to-use DVD Bible Study and its downloadable leader guide for just $29.99 (Value $39.98).



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