The Parables of Jesus
March 21, 2022
“I Forgive You”
Saying, I’m sorry, or, I forgive you is difficult.
It’s difficult on two fronts. First, it’s hard for you to go to someone you’ve wronged and say, “I’m sorry.” It takes courage to come forward to say those words to someone.
But, it’s just as difficult, perhaps even harder, for you to forgive someone. You’ve been hurt, abandoned, gossiped about, cheated on, verbally abused, and now someone who has wronged you asks for forgiveness.
I know more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, I’ve come to my wife and said, “I’m sorry.” My wife, Kathy, is one of the kindest, most considerate, and forgiving people, you may ever meet. So, every time I ask for forgiveness, she says, “All is forgiven.”
It’s essential to not hold on to grudges against others or transgressions committed against you. This brings us to our following Parable.
The Unmerciful Servant
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (18:22 Or seventy times seven )
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Peter’s question to Jesus sets the stage for this Parable. “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18: 21-35
In Greek, the better interpretation is seven times seventy, or 490 times. It’s best not to get caught up in the numbers. Jesus’ answer to Peter is telling us to forgive indefinitely. We should never keep score, thinking, “Well, I already forgave ________ four times before, because he/she spoke unkindly of me. I’m just can’t forgive them anymore.”
No, we forgive, again, again, and again. “To Infinity and beyond.” 😊
Occasionally, I do get caught up in numbers. I like to know the value is of something today as opposed to, say, sixty years ago. For example, in 1960, the average salary for a male was $60 per week. In 2022, the average salary for a male is $715 per week.
So, I looked up what Talents were worth in real money today, as well as what the value of a Denarius (silver coin) is. In the reading above, the servant owed his master 10,000 bags of gold (or 10,000 talents).
The servant owed his mater the equivalent to 3-5 Billion dollars in today’s money. The other servant who owed the servant whose debt was forgiven, 100 denarii, owed him the equivalent of about $1,100 in today’s money.
The difference in the debt owed is astronomical. But, the real point of the story is one of forgiveness. The servant begged for more time to pay his master. But, his master took it to a different level. He didn’t give his servant more time; he forgave the debt.
But when the servant whose debt had been forgiven came upon a fellow servant who owed him very little, by comparison, he was merciless. He physically choked the man and had him thrown into prison. But, of course, the first servant paid the price for being unmerciful.
This Parable is a commentary on the fifth petition of the Lord’s prayer. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
You see, it goes both ways. God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins. As a result, our debt was wiped clean. Jesus expects us to treat our fellow man the same way. Forgiving them as we have been forgiven.
I often find that I can’t say something better than another author did. So let me leave you with this statement.
“We forgive because we have been forgiven by God, and no offense against us can remotely compare with the incalculable amount we ourselves have been forgiven.”
(New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition, 1994. Matthew 18, Pp. 928.)
Dear Jesus. We are forgiven because you died for our sins. Let us be merciful and loving to others and forgive them of their trespasses against us just as you have forgiven us. Amen