Summary: Jesus extends grace to all with one exception. This parable explains what blocks "grace"
Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
• Matthew 18:21-35 (NRSV)21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
• Peter though he was being generous by suggesting seven times as the Pharisees taught to forgive those who offend you three times
• 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
• Notice something right away which came up earlier in the Parable of the Coin in the fish’s mouth
• Remember in the Parable of the Coin in the fish’s mouth Jesus said the sons of the Kingdom are free
• We turned to Col 2:14 to see what this term “free” meant
• Colossians 2:14 (NLT) He cancelled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.
• When Jesus went to the cross “record keeping” went out of business – he nailed the charge sheet the law levelled against mankind to the cross and cancelled them out
• Now Jesus may have done away with record keeping, but what exactly are the Pharisees and Peter doing in regard to forgiveness
• The Pharisees and Peter were record keepers when it came to keeping track of other’s sins
• The Pharisees kept track up to three times and Peter up to 7 times
• What Jesus says in response is to forget about record keeping – “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times
• What he is saying is, “throw the record-keeping book away! You have to be willing to forgive indefinitely if need be”
• Later Paul says virtually the same thing in that famous chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NLT) Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
Jesus came to do away with the whole record keeping, performance based religious nonsense
• Know why?
• First, it doesn’t work because it is impossible to repay the debt of sin
• We are fooling ourselves if we somehow think we can be accepted on our own performance
• And second, it promotes an atmosphere of one upmanship or judging similar to what we just read about between Peter and the Pharisees - “well I forgive a person 7 times”
And now in the same vein He then goes on to tell this parable about the unforgiving servant
• In it He shows what He does with record keeping and what He does with those who want to retain it!
• 23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents (This is an astronomical amount like 10 million dollars which could never be paid back) was brought to him and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.
• So here too we see a record keeping King who demands payment of the debt
• But this king is a bit of a softie, an easy touch
• 26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.
• Fortunately for us God is a God of Grace as well as a God of Justice and reacting from His heart rather than His head He totally forgives the debt
• But notice another important principle. The servant had to do nothing more than ask for grace in order to receive grace - just like the thief on the cross
• It wasn’t as though the king took him up on his offer to repay the debt – in fact it must have been all the King could do not to burst out laughing about the preposterous offer of the servant to repay it – how could a servant repay 10 million dollars?
• A debt by the way which represents our sins and is just as unpayable as this debt was so we should forget about balancing the books by our own good works
• Unfortunately many Christians still believe we will go to heaven if our good works cancel out our bad ones
• Then there are others who believe the rules change after our baptism
• We all recognise that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NKJV) but now after baptism we have to start earning our way