Summary: Uses a powerful illustration of a bell rope to drive home how we can forgive people who've sinned against us.
OPEN: I get a daily devotion from a website called “heartlight.org”
Back in August, I read the following story by Patrick Odum. Apparently, in New Hampshire, a man named Josh Muszynski stopped at a gas station and bought a pack of cigarettes with his debit card. A few hours later he was online checking his bank account and found that this particular pack of cigarettes set him back:
That’s 23 quadrillion, 148 trillion, 855 billion, 308 million, 184 thousand, 500 dollars.
To put that in perspective: if you took ALL the money from ALL the countries in the United Nations, you still wouldn’t have enough money to buy that single pack of cigarettes.
Needless to say, Josh immediately called his bank and managed to clear things up. Not only did his bank correct the error, they also removed the $15 overdraft fee they charged him.
(Patrick D. Odum, Heartlight.org 8/11/09)
APPLY: The point is: if this man had actually owed that much money there was no way he (or anyone else on face of earth) could ever pay it back.
Now that brings us to the parable Jesus tells His disciples: There was a man who owed a king 10,000 talents… and he couldn’t repay it. A single talent was equal to approximately one year’s pay. Thus it would take a person 10,000 years to pay for that man’s debt.
To put it in financial terms: if someone were to make $50,000 a year one talent would equal $50,000, and 10,000 talents would then be worth at least $5 billion.
That’s more money than most people around here make. And in fact… that was the point of Jesus’ parable.
He starts the parable by explaining that He’s talking about the “Kingdom of Heaven” (vs. 23). That term (“Kingdom of heaven”) is used exclusively in the Gospel of Matthew and is a phrase used to describe the coming Church which began on Pentecost – fifty days after Jesus had been crucified on the cross.
Jesus died and rose from the dead to set up the church, and you and I became part of the church because we received the free gift of salvation when we believed in Jesus, repented of our sins, confessed Jesus as our Lord, and were baptized for the forgiveness of our sin. And all this came at the price of Christ’s death on the cross.
The price Jesus paid to obtain our salvation goes waaaay beyond anything we could ever do to repay Him. Jesus died on the cross so our DEBT of sin could be forgiven.
Or as Romans 6:23 puts it “… the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now, in the first part of our parable this morning, Jesus explains that the King had pity on this man and forgave him his entire debt. In the same way, when we became Christians, God forgave us our entire debt. ALL of our sins were removed as far as EAST from WEST and buried in depth of sea. They don’t exist any more. (praise God).
That sets the stage for the 2nd part of Jesus’ parable.
This man who was forgiven his massive debt starts home – rejoicing every step of the way.
That is, until he encounters a man who owes HIM a debt of 100 denarii.
Just like in the part of the story where the 1st man begged for mercy from the king, so also, this 2nd man pleads for mercy when he’s faced with prison.
The difference between the 2 stories - this 2nd man was NOT forgiven.
The 1st man who’d received mercy (in spite of his great debt) refused to give same mercy to the man who owed him.
Now, why is Jesus telling this parable?
He’s telling the parable because Peter had just asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who’d sinned against him. Jesus gives Him a mathematical response (77 times in the NIV, whereas the KJV tells us 7 * 70). But then Jesus drives home the lesson with this parable.
Essentially Jesus is telling Peter that, WHEN the Kingdom of Heaven (Church) was established, God would forgive each of us a huge debt we could never repay - all sins we’ve ever committed would be completely forgiven.
AND the point of the parable is – since GOD has forgiven us our great debt of sin - He now expect us to forgive sins others commit against us.
In fact, He did more than expected it – He demanded it.
The last words of the parable are almost chilling:
“In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.’" Matthew 18:34-35