The disciples of Jesus probably thought they were being reasonable when they asked Jesus how many times they should forgive their brother or sister — they may have also been being either profound or cheeky in choosing the number seven. Seven is a holy number in the Bible, signifying completeness and wholeness: creation took seven days in the Book of Genesis. Jesus exclaims that it should be not 7, but 77 times!
In its most simple sense, this question and this answer is one of practicality. The disciples ask how they can completely fulfill their responsibilities to be forgiving people, knowing that forgiveness is a holy thing. Doesn’t forgiving one person seven times seem like a lot? How foolish does someone who forgives more than that seem? Jesus replies that we should be abundant in our forgiveness, foolish in our intentions to repair relationships. God forgives us that much.
~ Kirstin Swanson ~