Christ Jesus had just laid out the process of forgiveness when Peter asked Him how many times he should forgive a brother who sinned against him. Should he forgive the one who sinned against him seven times?
In giving forgiveness a number and a limit, Peter showed that he did not at all know what it means to forgive a person. Jesus told His disciple he should not forgive seven times, but seventy times seven. If a person is counting the times he forgives, he is not offering forgiveness from a loving heart.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a king who audited the accounts of his servants. As he looked over the accounts, he discovered one of the servants owed him ten thousand talents. In today’s money, some calculate that ten thousand talents would be about twenty million dollars.
The king called on the man to settle his debt, but the man was unable to repay the king. The king commanded that the man, his wife and children be sold to make a payment on the debt.
Naturally, the servant was distraught when he heard the command. Until now he had been living a carefree life, but on that day he was called on to pay an enormous debt that he could not possibly settle.
The man fell down before the king, and worshipped him.
“Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all,” he told the king. This man could not have repaid the king, but the king had compassion on him and forgave his enormous debt.
The forgiven servant went to a fellow servant who owed him an hundred pence. He violently grabbed the man around his throat and demanded that he pay his debt. At the time, most laborers only earned a penny a day, so this man owed a considerable sum of money. He fell down at his creditor’s feet, pleading with him to be patient. He would repay all the money he owed.
The first servant refused to show compassion, and he had the man thrown in debtor’s prison.
Other servants, aware of what happened, reported to the king the harsh treatment the servant had shown the man. The king called this man before him. He forgave the man’s debt because he pleaded with him to do so, but the servant did not demonstrate the same compassion he had sought from the king.
The king turned him over to the tormenters, or jailers, until he could pay the debt due to the king. Jesus said this is what God the Father will do to us “if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
Our sin debt to God is enormous and we cannot pay it. Just as the king had a day of reckoning, there will be a day of reckoning for mankind. We are the servant who is called to pay the debt and we must ask ourselves if we will forgive in the way we have been forgiven.
We will never be called on to forgive more in others than God forgave in us when we bowed before Him and He lovingly forgave us.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” –C.S. Lewis
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at [email protected]