The message of this verse is that the forgiveness that Jesus offers to us is available to all those who are willing to extend the same kind of forgiveness to others. In other words, learning to forgive others is a response to receiving and understanding the forgiveness of God. Without understanding God’s forgiveness, our forgiveness of others will always be incomplete. It will keep a record of wrongs and come with conditions and limits.
This teaching on forgiveness takes on a special significance if one were to continue to read the Gospel of Mark. The authority of Jesus is questioned by the religious leaders immediately following His instruction on forgiveness. This resistance from the religious leaders of the day ultimately climaxes in their execution of Jesus. But Jesus does not hate even those who put Him to death. His death on the cross included forgiveness for even those religious leaders. His experience provides a wonderful example for those of us who call ourselves Christians. We may not feel love and compassion for those whom we pray for. It may take time, but prayer for those who have hurt us will replace bitterness with a spirit of forgiveness and compassion.