A king wished to settle his accounts with his servants. One of those paraded before him owed him ten thousand talents. This servant could not possibly pay his debt and so the king ordered that himself, his wife, children and all that he owned be sold, in order for the debt to be settled.
But the servant fell on his knees, pleading and imploring his master to be patient with him, he would repay him everything. The king was certainly not anything like our modern-day auctioneers, and how immovable they are with their victims’ pleas of mercy. The king was gracious and kind. Not only was the servant released but also his debt cancelled.
Dude was free. He asked for more time to be able to repay the debt but he got forgiveness. I imagine his happiness. He was probably going to remain a servant for life. I mean, his debt could only be covered by selling his wife, children, property and himself! He acquired total freedom.
The servant went out and found a fellow servant. He owed him one hundred denarii. We all know how it feels bad to see someone who owes you money continue to ‘prosper’ as you wallow in lack. The first servant chocked this other servant as he told him to pay what he owed him. How on earth could he continue enjoying life yet he owed him? This servant pleaded with him but wapi? His pleas fell on deaf years. (Typical case of Kenyan auctioneers!) He put him into prison until he could pay the debt.
This disturbed his colleague servants. How could he be so unkind? They went and reported to their master all that had taken place. I imagine how infuriated the master became. Ati what? He summoned him and rebuked him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” The master delivered him to the jailers until he could also pay the debt that had been previously cancelled.
This is a classical case of us Christians, in the parable of the unforgiving servant as narrated by Jesus to His disciples. (Mathew 18: 21-35) Just like the Master, Jesus has gone out of His way to pardon all our iniquity. He has taken upon Himself the burden of our Sin and borne it through dying on the cross. Our debt was great, for we could never have appeased God’s wrath towards us. Just like the servant, we were bound by the debt of Sin. Forever. But He had mercy on us. He has forgiven our past, present and even future Sin. For His cleansing flood never runs dry and all who call upon His name are saved. Forgiving all our past sins and assuring us of present forgiveness if we continue repentance.
Ungrateful creatures we are! What have we done? Turned against fellow believers and harbored hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness and felt justified for it. “After all, they wronged us”, we have said. That’s what they deserve. Can I remind us what we deserve? Eternal damnation – being cast away from God’s presence and handed over to the devil.
The implication of Christ’s forgiveness on us should be a humble heart that praises Him for doing that which we neither deserved nor could have done for ourselves. This should in turn make forgiveness possible for us.
Earlier in the chapter Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Then Jesus answered him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” If I had existed during this time, and be the one asking Jesus this question, then get the response He gave, I’d have gotten depressed. I’d have wondered whether that’s even possible and whether Jesus knew how hard it is to forgive. Foolishly and sinfully so.
We all admit that forgiveness is hard. Wrong and unfair actions done to us arouse feelings of hurt and bitterness and all that we want to do is hang in there because we feel justified for harboring such kind of feelings. Christ has indeed forgiven us who have placed our trust in Him. But we struggle to forgive those who wrong us just like the unforgiving servant.
Jesus set the standard of forgiveness higher by telling Peter that forgiveness was to be seventy times seven times. In short, we ought to give unlimited forgiveness to all our offenders. As the chapter ends He points out, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” As the master handed over the unforgiving servant to the jailers, so will also God to those who don’t practice forgiveness.
Our model of forgiveness, Jesus, never requires us to follow in His footsteps of forgiveness because forgiving is ‘more for yourself than for your offender’. If His example is anything to go by, it wasn’t about Him when He hang on the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It was love and forgiveness flowing from His very veins. Whereas forgiving could be therapeutic and therefore could help us heal, we are required to forgive not for ourselves but because we have also been forgiven. It is the natural thing for a believer to do. By this we bring glory to God.
As we gaze upon the cross, see our Savior hanging there because of our Sin, then look at ourselves and how wretched we are, we can only praise Him for His forgiveness. Then forgiving others wouldn’t be so hard. So help us God!