Grace Community Church
Watch this message at https://youtu.be/oSQkupXCiXk
What image comes to mind when you think of the word “Bounty Hunter.” Maybe we think of a scene from Star Wars as Darth Vader is enlisting their help to fuel his obsession with finding Luke Skywalker. The imperial admiral leans down to one of his lieutenants and quietly says, “Bounty Hunters? We don’t need their scum...” Even evil imperial officers have their standards.
Maybe you think more about someone like Clint Eastwood - a loner in the movie Raising Arizona. Leather chaps, a motorcycle, unkept hair. Someone with relentless focus to capture the person they are after (for whatever reason).
You may have been pursued by a bounty hunter at least once in your life. Not the Boba-Fett kind with guns, but the one with a relentless telephone to collect the money for a past-due payment. They are vicious. They enjoy making people squirm as they literally attempt to get the blood out fo the turnip. Can you imagine doing a job like that? Maybe you can… maybe all of us can, especially in this ‘cancel culture day.’
We are living in a day that is rapidly accelerating from biblical values and the ideals Jesus built His church upon. And I submit to you that there are demonic attempts to try to match the church with the days we are living. Really, the church needs to rise above these days and so-called movements. In Wilson, NC a 5-year-old boy is intentionally shot in the head while playing with his sisters by a neighbor. In protests scenes, men and women are beaten savagely by “protesters.” Our politicians are openly defending heinous behaviors, abortions, and division. The rhetoric is absolutely grievous; rooted in lies, fallacies, and open deceptions. I heard a leader in Black Lives Matter justify the looting from stores as a means of reprobation.
We want to be paid for someone’s mistakes. The dinner that the restaurant didn’t make just right. Even in the church, many spend time demanding payment. The pastor said something we didn’t like or the wrong song played. Does someone owe you an apology? A second chance? An explanation? A thank you? If you were to stop and think about it, you could make some people aware of a debt they owe you and you could amass some good reasons why it’s owed.
We’ve lost the meaning, purpose, and origin of forgiveness in the church. We’ve lost it because we’re trying to use worldly standards of a godly principle. We’re like Peter asking Jesus today. “How many times should I forgive my brother… 7 times.” He’s proud of the number he’s willing to reach. But like Peter, we need to be reminded of Jesus’ standard -God’s standard- and resolve that in our heart and soul. Why? Because it’s the standard that God applies to you. True love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs!
English Standard Version Chapter 18
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
I wonder if Jesus didn’t give Peter a smile and a pat on the shoulder at his attempt to be pious with his forgiveness. So Jesus says, no Peter. Your forgiveness isn’t enough. If you want a standard, 70 times that number is more like it. And then he uses this as a teaching opportunity with a parable.
The king has called for an audit. The debts are to be paid and we have found a massive debt. Ten thousand talents. To put this in perspective, a talent was the large
In New Testament times a talent was a unit of weight for valuable metals, chiefly silver. One talent was about 75 pounds of silver. Therefore, 10,000 talents equaled 750,000 pounds or 375 tons of silver.
Another way to quantify this is that one talent equaled 6000 denarii or a day’s wage. Thus one talent equaled 20 years’ wages for a common laborer. Therefore 10,000 talents equal 200,000 years’ wages or 60 million days’ wages. Given today that the average American earns $190.88, we can estimate that this slave owed the King $11,452,800,000.00. That may be obtainable for someone like Jeff Bezos who has a net worth of 116 Billion. But certainly not for a slave in ancient Palestine and that’s not the point of the parable.
The King is God the Father and the debt (10, 000 was the largest number counted in the Roman world). We are the servant, and no matter what our net worth, we own God a debt of sin we cannot pay.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is no way we could ever pay God back and measure to his holiness. Ten thousand years in hell wouldn’t even begin to pay on the interest of the debt. So how does the King (God) respond to the servant
26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
That’s an image of God’s forgiveness. It is complete. Undeserved. It looks nothing like the kind of forgiveness of the world. To the world, it is incomprehensible that God can forgive freely. The man asked for only forbearance and volunteered to repay the debt, but the King ignored all of this and freely forgave. God’s forgiveness will wreck you for the ordinary and take you deeper.
Romans 3:23-25 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
This part of the parable is where most people who come to church, push the pause button in the movie in their mind. They see the forgiveness of God and rejoice. But in doing so, we only receive half the lesson Jesus is teaching us because the other half has to do with our response to God's forgiveness in our personal relationships.
Look at what happens next:
28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
The servant, now forgiven of his massive debt now encounters a man who owes him 100 denari. If we continue with the same calculations we used before. The second servant owes the first servant $19,800.00. The first servant owed over 11 billion dollars to the king. The second servant owed the first servant just under 20 thousand dollars - roughly 1/600,000 of what was owed to the king. If we could make that even more visually comprehendible for us ordinary people, that would be like me having a million dollar debt forgiven and I have my hands around this guy's neck for $1.98.
Jesus is comparing our unforgiveness with each other to the man choking the servant. The spiritual equivalent of this is when we have our hands around the neck of someone who has wronged us, despite the forgiveness we received from God. The wrong isn’t in question. The debt isn’t missed. The wickedness is attributed to the person who holds onto bitterness and refuses forgiveness. I think there are many today who call themselves Christians and say they’ve forgiven but they continue to harbor bitterness in their hearts. There are many who have attributed forgiveness without mercy.
When the King hears of this he is indignant and Jesus says he throws the first servant into prison until he can pay back the original debt in full. The point is painfully clear.
Many Christians are living in prisons of their own making. Unforgiveness:
Hinders and keeps our prayers from being answered (Mark 11:25)
Hinders our fellowship and intimacy with our Heavenly Father (Mark 11:22-26)
Invoke’s God’s judgment on us!
“He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must someday pass” (Lord Herbert)
“Unless you have forgiven others, you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord’s prayer.” CH Spurgeon
Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Jesus is so strong here. Jesus is so loving. May I put a fine point on what Jesus is saying? Unless you forgive others in the same way and with the same mercy that God forgave you, then you are not a part of the kingdom of heaven. The true Christian is not just forgiven and enjoying God’s forgiveness. The true Christian doesn’t forgive by the world’s standards. The true Christian freely, may I say recklessly, displays and gives genuine forgiveness (from their heart).
I’m not saying the hurt isn’t real. I’m not saying that sin against you isn’t wrong. I’m not saying we excuse sinful behavior. But a willful, hardened, unforgiving heart may indicate the absence of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Forgiveness cannot be done through our own strength and power, but only through the power of the Holy Spirit. True forgiveness is only possible because of Calvary’s Cross.
It was Spurgeon who said, “Let us go to Calvary to learn how we may be forgiven… and let us linger there to learn how to forgive.”
Forgiveness turns situations around and makes them radically different. The only way to end this victimhood culture is for the church to remember what it means to forgive, to be willing, and to be willing to make peace where there was none before. It is possible to find forgiveness and it is one of the most powerful liberating gifts that can only be found through the power of the Cross.
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
I love the story told by D.L. Moody
“John,” said a father to his son, “can you fetch me a hammer please”. “Yes, Dad”. “Now get a nail and fetch that piece of wood please”. “Here they are Dad” replied the son.
“Can you hammer the nail into the wood?” It was done. “Can you please pull it out again”. “That’s easy,” said John as he turned the hammer around and prised out the nail.
“Now John,” and the father's voice dropped to a lower key, “pull out the nail hole”.
Every wrong act leaves a scar. We are all hurt and hurt others so easily – as easily as banging a nail into a piece of wood.
How will we respond to those scars – Forgiveness or vengeance?
I want to close this morning with a realization that many of you here this morning are here and God has been talking to you through this message. What God is burdening you with is something that cannot be ignored.
I believe this church is about to experience a powerful movement of God. That in the midst of the dessert GCC will be a garden. We have undergone a tremendous transformation over the last few years. But we will not move forward until we forgive the past.
We’ve come through some very difficult times and there have emerged some deep wounds as a result of what’s happened in the past and the pain in transformation. If you are here this morning and still living with the pain of the past. I want you to be brave, stand where you are as a sign of your forgiveness.
Now if you have someone in your life that you need to offer forgiveness, I want to seek them out. We're about to have communion. THIS IS OUR COMING TOGETHER AS A FAMILY commemorating God's forgiveness for us. How can you take this bread and juice knowing what they represent and hold unforgiveness in your heart?.