“I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Is Jesus referring to mercy?

The issue is forgiveness, and forgiving others as we've been forgiven. This is also called having mercy on others.

Each of us living within a physical body is here because we rejected God at some point. So we were sent away from Him to this temporary physical dimension and given these temporary physical bodies in order to learn lessons of love and forgiveness.

Unfortunately, most of us have not learned these lessons.

Here we have the freedom to ignore the Supreme Being. Many question His existence. Many blame Him for our own decisions. We continue to put ourselves first, thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe.

And yet still, He is willing to forgive us. Not seven times, but innumerable times.

So the question is, are we - after being forgiven by God as He perpetually invites us home to Him with mercy and forgiveness - not going to grant mercy and forgiveness upon our brothers and sisters? Are we to be forgiven yet not forgive? This is Jesus' point.

Why must we learn forgiveness?

Because the human form of life is where we can learn to re-acclimate to the spiritual world from a blank slate. We can act with complete freedom. We don't have to have mercy. We don't have to care. We don't have to pray. We can learn what we want and we can set whatever goals we want here.

In the spiritual world, everyone loves each other. Everyone forgives each other. In the spiritual world, everything revolves around God. God is the center. Everyone recognizes this in the spiritual realm.

But in the physical world, we are given a sense of forgetfulness of the spiritual realm. Here we can completely ignore all that. We can even claim there is no such thing as God and the only things that exist are what my eyes can see. Now, this is freedom. God is giving us the ultimate in freedom. We can completely escape Him here.

The human form of life can also be a stepping stone back to the spiritual world - if we take it. If we learn to change our consciousness from thinking that we are the center, to understanding that the Supreme Being is the center, and if we come to know and learn to love the Supreme Being and His children, then we have prepared our consciousness to return to God's kingdom, the spiritual world.

Jesus' instruction to his followers is to help them prepare for their return to the world of the Supreme Being - the spiritual world.

Why is there still suffering if God forgives us?

Yes, the Supreme Being ultimately forgives us and loves us unconditionally. But this does not mean our temporary physical bodies will not suffer the consequences of our previous decisions and actions. Especially those decisions and actions that hurt others.

This is the law of cause and effect, and it is programmed into the physical world. These temporary physical bodies are designed to incur the results of our actions. If we hurt others' bodies, our bodies will be hurt. If we help others' bodies, our bodies will be helped.

This is God's perfect design because ultimately, the physical world is our learning center. It is a school of sorts. It is a place of rehabilitation.

But these physical bodies are not who we are. They are like automobiles and we are like the driver who gets into the car to drive it. And just as getting a dent in our car does not affect our body, the sufferings of the physical world do not affect our spiritual selves - our inner self. That is, outside of the lessons we learn through our physical bodies.

And what are we supposed to learn from the rehabilitation center of the temporary physical world? We are here to learn how to love. We are here to learn how to forgive. We are here to learn how to have mercy.