Read: Matthew 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:31-32
21 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?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 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. 26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. 28 “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. 29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (NIV Matthew 18:21-35)
“31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ” (NIV Ephesians 4:31-32)
Study: Most of Jesus’ themes in his teaching grew out of the Hebrew Scriptures. That was certainly true of this parable about a king who showed almost undreamed of mercy. When we serve a king as merciful as God, then our gratitude toward the king and our mercy toward others will be signs that we truly value and wish to live by the kingdom’s values. Jesus’ story made the debt owed to the king absurdly large—as if he said the man owed “a gazillion dollars.” Was Jesus right in his picture of the debt we owe God, to show us how badly we need a Savior? Scholar Craig Keener noted, “Seventy times seven…does not really mean exactly 490 here; it is a typically graphic Jewish way of saying ‘Never hold grudges.’” * How can taking in God’s vast forgiveness transform you over time to be able to forgive others as God forgives you?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you gave up so much to reach me with your forgiveness. Help me to accept and value that gift, and to be more forgiving toward myself and others in my life. Amen.