September 21st, 2021 – Matthew 18:35

Verse of the Day Devotion  Matthew 18:35  So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. 

Today we will look at the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.   Here is this parable as found in Matthew’s gospel.

For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. And when he had begun to settle them, there was brought to him one who owed him ten thousand talents. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything. And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, Pay back what you owe. So his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, Have patience with me and I will repay you. He was unwilling however, but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?  And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:23-35.

This is a fairly long parable, but the meaning is rather simple. Basically, a man who has slaves wishes to settle accounts with them.  One of them was a man who owed him ten thousand talents, an extreme amount, for in todays valuation, it would be worth $18,293,025,852.00 if it was gold, and $277,041,996.00 in silver.  The basic idea is that it was an amount he could never be able to repay. And since he could not repay it, the owner commanded he be sold, along with his wife and children.  However, the slave begged for mercy. “The slave therefore falling down, prostrated himself before him, saying, have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.” Matthew 18:26. Because of this, the owner has mercy on him. “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.” Matthew 18:27. 

However, then he goes out and goes to a fellow slave. “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, pay back what you owe.” Matthew 18:28.  This man owed him far less money than what he owed his master.  In today’s dollars, a denari is worth roughly $1.94.  The value owed to his fellow slave was $194.00.  This was far less than what he had owed the slave owner. And when the fellow slave also fell down before him crying out for mercy, his response was much less merciful. “He was unwilling however but went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.” Matthew 18:30.

When his fellow slaves saw this, they went to the slave owner and told him. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you? And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.” Matthew 18:32-34. 

In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Jesus is presenting a principle that is similar to what we find written by Paul. “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32. Jesus is teaching His disciples pre-cross, and therefore in the pre-church age, but the basis for forgiveness is the same. Because God has forgiven us, we are to forgive each other. Remember, He gave His only Son to forgive us, one who never sinned. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. And because of this, we are required to forgive others who wrong us.  

Theologian Craig Blomberg puts it this way. “The following three themes emerge from the main characters and episodes of the parable: God’s boundless grace, the absurdity of spurning that grace, and the frightful fate awaiting the unforgiving.” I could not have said this better.  God’s boundless grace has been provided to us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We deserved nothing from God because of our rebellion.  We had no hope because we could not address our sins ourselves.  We needed the grace that came from God, sending His Son to live a sinless life so that in His death, we could be forgiven if we give our lives to Him.  Unfortunately, many ‘spurn’ this grace, rejecting it due to their hardened hearts.  And as stated above, we are to love everyone such that we will forgive them for anything they do to us. This is what Jesus did for us and commands of His followers so, this is what we must do.  It is not just a request, but a command.  And if we do not follow His ways, we will be required to pay for our own sins, which is an infinite cost. “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that had been owed him.” Matthew 18:34.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

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