A Non-Repayable Debt
Sermon shared by Damian Phillips
Summary: All people owe a non-repayable debt to the Lord. What is the non-repayable debt that we owe, and to whom are we indebted? What does it cost us personally, and how can we have our debt pardoned?
Audience: Seeker adults
About Sermon Contributor
I have entitled our message this evening “A Non-repayable Debt,” and we will be looking at what is commonly called, “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.” “John Oglethorpe, in talking to John Wesley, once made the comment, ‘I never forgive.’ Mr. Wesley replied, ‘Then, Sir, I hope that you never sin’.” We are going to learn tonight that if we never forgive, then we had better hope we never sin.
All people owe a non-repayable debt to the Lord. If the Lord dismisses our debt (and He will), then we should extend the same courtesy to any of our debtors. What is the non-repayable debt that we owe, and to whom are we indebted? What does it cost us personally, and how can we have our debt dismissed? Also, what happens if the debt is not dismissed? These are some question which will be answered tonight as we examine this parable.
Peter Demonstrated Generosity (vv. 21-22)
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
It’s highly unlikely that Jesus was angry with Peter’s question concerning how many times someone should be forgiven. In fact, his suggestion to forgive “up to seven times” was quite generous when compared to the standard of forgiveness set forth in the law. A. T. Robertson says, “The Jewish rule was three times” (Amos 1:6). Rabbi Jose ben Hanina said, “He who begs forgiveness from his neighbor must not do so more than three times.” Rabbi Jose ben Jehuda said, “If a man commits an offense once, they forgive him; if he commits an offense a second time, they forgive him; if he commits an offense a third time, they forgive him; the fourth time they do not forgive him.”
Peter was being especially generous in his pronouncement of forgiveness up to seven times. He sought to impress Jesus with his answer, and He was likely pleased with Peter; however, Jesus sought to clarify the standard of forgiveness set forth in “the law of love.” Jesus said, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” When He stated forgiveness up to 490 times, He was not being literal. Jesus was using figurative language to convey the truth that forgiveness should be granted to an individual an unlimited number of times. He then began to share a parable to illustrate this principle.
He Who Owed Much (vv. 23-27)
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.”
Jesus shared this parable in order to reinforce God’s standard of forgiveness. He spoke of a king who began to settle accounts with his servants. This king represents God Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth. There was also a servant and his master. The servant owed a non-repayable debt to the king, which represents how all human beings
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