Peter asks Jesus a question about the limits of reconciliation. He asks whether seven times is enough. Christ recommends seventy-seven times. The numbers are symbolic. Seven represented a perfect number. The ancients noted that the background of stars moved in a regular cycle, but that seven objects in the sky moved independently. These were the Sun, Moon, and five planets visible to the naked eye. Hence, seven seemed to have a divine significance. This explains why there are seven days in a week, seven sacraments, etc. Luke's version of the story goes even further. In it Jesus demands "seventy times seven" or 490 acts of forgiveness. The point is the same, our mercy must be unlimited.