The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Peter thought he was being bold to consider forgiving a brother or sister in Christ up to seven times, but Jesus sets the bar much higher: seventy-seven times (infinitely)! To explain, Jesus gives us this parable that’s easy to understand until we insert our name in the place of the unmerciful servant.
Matthew 18:21-35

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One Reply to “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant”

  1. Jesus tells this crazy story about a king that forgives the debt of one of his servants, only to discover the servant learned nothing. I can see the heads nodding in agreement as he tells the parable until the last sentence:

    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.

    This is how? Whoa Jesus, go back and tell the story again, I missed something! Back in Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel, God declares protection of Cain, “anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” But the die is cast, great sin has entered Cain’s heart and his son Lamech proves to be more arrogant in his poem, “If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.” So we see the references to the numbers is not random, they reach back to one of the oldest stories in the Bible.

    Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7

    The king, the master of many servants, decided to settle accounts, this is the day of judgment. The servant owed 10,000 bags of gold (10,000 talents: each worth 20 years of labor–an impossible amount) so the master ordered him to debtors prison (a strange notion to begin with, but that’s another story). Begging on his knees, the master relents, takes pity, and forgives the entire debt.

    It’s ridiculous that the master would forgive such a huge debt, yet he does in one simple phrase. It’s crazy to think that God wants to forgive each of us, yet he longs to have a relationship with every one of us. Even though our sin is great, he approaches with a desire to forgive.

    The servant in the parable accepts his deliverance (that was easy), but he turns around and demands immediate repayment from someone who owed him only 100 coins, or about 100 days’ wages for a common laborer.

    God forgives us and he expects, he demands that we forgive others. As Jesus provides the perfect example of prayer in Matthew 6:

    And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.


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