Summary: The death and resurrection of Jesus not only provided the forgiveness of our sins, but also enabled us to forgive the sins of others.
Matthew 18:21-35 “Free to Forgive”
The reality of Easter is expressed in many ways in our everyday lives. Easter becomes personal for us at our baptism, or when we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We celebrate the reality of Easter every Sunday with songs such as “Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate,” “It’s All About Jesus,” “Alleluia Jesus Lives, and “I Serve a Risen Savior.” The good news and power of Easter doesn’t need to stop there. We are invited by God to experience the reality of Easter in our lives every day.
Currently we are exploring what it means to experience Easter everyday. Two weeks ago, we began by focusing on the victory that the resurrection of Jesus Christ us, and the truth that we are more than conquerors. Last Sunday Tony shared the good news that part of the reality of Easter is the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Today we focus on the forgiveness that is ours through the cross of Christ.
Christ accomplished many things on the cross. The most commonly mentioned is the forgiveness of sins.
Paul writes in Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “We have been saved by grace through faith” (2:8). Our faith is not in the fact that there is a God, but in the truth that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for our sins.
Forgiveness does not stop, though, at our forgiveness, but continues in our ability to forgive others.
The parable in our lesson today is a clear proclamation that we have been forgiven so that we can forgive others.
The servant has an unpayable debt that is erased by his master. There is the implied expectation that he will go and treat others as he has been treated, but that doesn’t happen. Instead of forgiving the debt of others, he tries to collect from them and has his debtors thrown into jail when they cannot pay. The master learns about the actions of his servant and judges him harshly.
The parable points out the temptation of receiving the rich and abundant forgiveness of God for the multitude of our sins, while holding back from forgiving others. The parable challenges us to act differently.
Most of us will readily admit that it is sometimes very difficult for us to forgive others. There are many reasons for this.
¨ We often play by a double standard. Though we have been freely forgiven, we think that others, who have hurt us, must pay for their forgiveness. We wait to forgive them until they say that they are sorry, or have made restitution.
¨ We enjoy harboring thoughts of revenge. We prefer to envision what we will do when we get a hold of the other person rather than what the relationship with them would look like once we forgive. Some people attempt to exact their revenge ala Columbine with disastrous results.
¨ We have been hurt and we want to hurt in return. We fool ourselves in to believing that by withholding our forgiveness and giving the other person a cold shoulder that the person will experience the depth of pain that we experienced.