Exhortation – Matthew 18:21-22 – 08/20/2013
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Jesus says the kingdom can be compared to a servant who was forgiven an insurmountable debt to a king. When the forgiven servant did not extend forgiveness to his fellow slave on a much smaller matter, he was sent to the torturers and punished. Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Relationships in a fallen world are messy. Everyone is wronged at some point, but no one wants to be taken advantage of. A slip up that my brother makes against me here and there is okay, but there comes a point when enough is enough, right? Even Talmudic law limits the number to three entreaties. Peter was even being generous with “seven times”. But Jesus bursts everyone’s paradigms with an incalculable amount. “Can he be serious?” “What if my brother misuses this or takes advantage of me?” Jesus doesn’t qualify.
The parable of the servant gives us insight into Jesus’ paradigm for forgiveness. However many sins your brother commits against you, however grave the wrongs may seem, they are quite petty compared to the sins forgiven you by your King. The King has forgiven a debt that could never be repaid; it was simply impossible. At the cross Jesus absorbs the debt of humanity. He takes on the sins of the world and bears the cost himself. But the King also institutes a new way of life, a new standard in the world. The servant is expected to extend the same kind of charity, albeit much less costly. The servant is to imitate the King by absorbing the debts owed him. He now has the freedom and perspective to treat others as his King has treated him.
You have been forgiven a debt that is bigger than you could ever imagine. Your King has not only taken your debt, but has bestowed His own kingly robe and riches upon you. Because you are an ambassador of the King, overcome evil by pouring out forgiveness on all who sin against you.