21 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times. 23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle accounts, they brought to him a servant who owed him ten thousand bags of gold. 25 Because the servant didn’t have enough to pay it back, the master ordered that he should be sold, along with his wife and children and everything he had, and that the proceeds should be used as payment. 26 But the servant fell down, kneeled before him, and said, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ 27 The master had compassion on that servant, released him, and forgave the loan. 28 “When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred coins. He grabbed him around the throat and said, ‘Pay me back what you owe me.’ 29 “Then his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I’ll pay you back.’ 30 But he refused. Instead, he threw him into prison until he paid back his debt. 31 “When his fellow servants saw what happened, they were deeply offended. They came and told their master all that happened. 32 His master called the first servant and said, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you appealed to me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 His master was furious and handed him over to the guard responsible for punishing prisoners, until he had paid the whole debt. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you if you don’t forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35, CEB)
This reading is interesting on many leaves.
- The first servant begs for time to pay back a loan that is basically 164,383 and a half years worth of labor. Like even paying part of your wages toward that would ever make a dent in the amount owed. Yet the king forgave him!
- The forgiven servant finds another servant who owes him money and doesn’t listen to his friends pleading when he is owed a 1/600000 of what he owed and was forgiven. This amount is easily repaid over probably a couple to 3 years.
- And when the king finds out he throws the first servant in jail. and Jesus says if you don’t forgive, God will not forgive you. And not just saying you forgive them, God knows if you actually forgave them in your heart.
How does this help us forgive? It is more into scaring us to do what the right thing is. This kind of passage read the way I outlined it above is what keeps people in abusive relationships.
The story is supposed to be outlandish. It is over the top. With the amounts differing by so much. And show us how much God has forgiven us. And what not forgiving does to us. When we don’t forgive those who have wronged us it is as much or more a prison for us.
May we all see and know the love that God has for us, forgiving a debt that could not possibly be repaid. May we love those around us as God loves us, not because it will make God happy, but because of what we have received.