HOW MANY TIMES?
Read: Matthew 18:21-27
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. (NIV Matthew 18:21-27)
Study: Some rabbis taught that any given sin could only be forgiven three times, so Peter may have thought that stretching that to seven times was generous. But Jesus had something much bigger in mind. His parable made the servant’s debt a whopper, an amount equivalent to 60 million days’ wages! (That’s about 170,000 years of work.) In his story, the king (he pretty clearly meant God) showed mercy even to a person who owed that kind of debt. In Jesus’ parable, the servant owed a debt so absurdly large that in human dealings no one could possibly owe that much. Do you think Jesus intended that the parable make us aware of the gap between our purity and God’s, and make us aware of our need for a Savior to bridge the gap? Is that a good image, or are we not actually all that bad?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as this story reminds me how much you’ve done to give me eternal life, I offer you praise from the depths of my heart! Thank you for your love and forgiveness. Amen