Summary: A sermon about learning to forgive as God has forgiven us.

“The Unmerciful Servant is…Me”

Matthew 18:21-35

Oh, how I love this parable.

If there ever were someone who got what they deserved, it’s the unmerciful servant!

He owed a debt of 10,000 talents.

A talent was about 130 pounds of silver and was equal to about 15 years of a laborer’s wages.

Which means that the servant owed the king about 150,000 years of labor.

In other words, he would never, ever be able to pay him back.

But then, the king forgives this enormous, unimaginable debt!!!

Wouldn’t you be just a little bit relieved?

Perhaps even a little overjoyed?

Maybe you’d want to pass it on?

Not this guy, though.

After being forgiven 150 years of labor, someone else owes him about 100 days of labor.

And he has him arrested and thrown into jail!

When the king, who had forgiven him so much, heard about this he had this guy tortured until he could pay his entire debt.

Isn’t it delicious?

The weeping!

The gnashing of teeth!

Oh, the justice of it all!

But then these words of Jesus haunt me: “Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”

Uh, oh.

The unmerciful servant is ME!!!

I’ve been shown so much mercy.

SO much mercy.

More mercy, in fact, than I’m comfortable going into the details about…

Who am I to judge another?

Why can’t I have mercy on the guy who owes me?

And that is what this passage is about.


Extravagant, ridiculous, over-the-top mercy!

Not just on the undeserving, but ESPECIALLY on the undeserving.

I mean, mercy wouldn’t be mercy if it were earned.

It’s so easy to want to jump all over one another in this life.

It’s so easy to claim the higher ground, and proclaim myself better than someone else.

But, that’s not the Way of Jesus.

Now, admittedly, Matthew 18:21-35 is specifically about forgiving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But, we can’t deny that Jesus and the rest of the New Testament, for that matter, call for mercy and forgiveness for all people, especially those who strike us on the cheek and demand our cloak.

“How often should I forgive?” Peter asks.

That is what starts this whole thing off.

And Jesus’ response doesn’t so much as provide a precise answer as much as it points out how misdirected the question itself is.

How many times should we forgive?

The issue isn’t how much or how often we are asked to forgive or should forgive.

And this is because forgiveness, in Christ, is already limitless.

It can’t be measured or counted out.

It is just part and parcel of what the Kingdom of God is all about.

It’s a constant.

It doesn’t stop at a certain number of offenses.

We might want it to—and that is at the heart of Peter’s question.

“How much is enough” is what Peter is asking.

“I think I’m being pretty lenient if I forgive someone 7 times.

Surely that is enough?”

But Jesus says: “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times”…

…which means, every time, continuously.

And this can be hard to hear.

Because, after-all, how can we possibly bring ourselves to endlessly forgive?

Let’s face it…


…it truly has to be one of the most difficult things for a human to do, not only to give forgiveness but to receive it.

And for Jesus to tell the parable He tells in our Gospel Lesson indicates that forgiveness is extremely important for us and for God.

It’s is a necessity.

It is what Christ followers must aim to do and do and do.

Martin Luther King Jr., a man who knew a lot about forgiveness, said that “Forgiveness is not just an occasional act.

It is a constant attitude.”

And C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Now, we are making some sense, are we not?

We are the receivers of God’s amazing grace—the grace that cost the Son of God His life on the Cross…

…And if we accept this grace…

…if we truly have received God’s forgiveness, we will practice amazing grace with others.

A Turkish Officer raided and looted an Arminian home.

He killed the parents and gave the daughters to the soldiers, keeping the oldest daughter for himself.

Sometime later she escaped and became a nurse.

As time passed, she found herself working in a ward filled with Turkish officers.

One night, by the light of a lantern, she saw the face of the officer.

He was so ill that without a lot of hard work on her part, he would die.

And so, the days passed and he recovered.

One day, the doctor stood by the bed with her and said to the officer, “If it weren’t for her devotion to you, you would be dead.”

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