The Weekend Word
The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
- Recognition of sin and a person’s repentance are important – but what about the continual sinner?
- Peter once again steps up – “Jesus, you sound pretty serious about this regaining a brother stuff, but what is the limit? What are the boundaries?
- We need to have something to work with here or we will just become enablers.
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
- Here in America it is 3 strikes and you are out – so the 7 times of Peter doesn’t sound too bad.
- So Jesus draws the line for us – he gives us 70 x 7 – but that limit is not 490.
- It is a Hebraism – it’s kind of like kids trying to one up each other
- “Well I go to infinity – oh yeah, well I go to infinity times two!”
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
- Remember, we are talking about this kingdom living stuff.
- So, he turns the story a little to a king who is owed a large debt
- Talent = a number of years wages – and he owes 10,000 of them.
- The idea is that the amount is impossible to pay.
25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
- This is why today we have bankruptcy laws.
- Liquidate as much as he could get out of the guy and his family.
- And still the rest of the payment to be made.
- Even with us, if you can’t pay the debt to God then it is off to hell with you.
26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’
- Patience – yes, that’s what the guy needs – as if he can come up with the dough.
27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
- Forgiveness – and not just forgiveness, but no more debt … sound familiar?
- This king is a bookkeeper and keeps score – but he dies to this, to his nature and totally forgives.
- But note – this still does not answer Peter’s question, and Peter is probably standing in the background – “that’s a crazy king – an insane master, that’s foolishness – you will go out of business doing things like that.
- People are going to take advantage of you.”
28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’
- 100 denarii = 1 days pay = 100 days.
- Pay!! No forgiveness.
29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’
- He asks for the exact same consideration.
- What is not being done here?? Forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we have forgiven others.
- And this doesn’t even reach Peter’s level of how many – 7 times?
- No pity here.
30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
- This guy is not living a free life – he was given a free life by his master, but he is now the bookkeeper / score keeper king.
31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.
32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.
- There is no other way to put this – this is a sentence to hell.
35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
- This is a very serious statement – not to be played with, not to be nuanced
- Why so serious? Because it is not the gospel.
- It is living like Christ had not died for that person’s debt.
- This is a salvation where we absent Jesus from the kingdom – and we sit on the throne.
- This is what it means to mature as a baptized believer in God – to forgive, to follow that petition of the Lord’s Prayer.
- Let it go – Let it be – Be unchained.