Summary: A sermon on the parable of the unmerciful servant from Matthew 18:21-35 (Many SermonCentral Contributors helped with this one along with an article in Bible Study Magazine)

Evening Service for 11/22/2009

Matthew 18:21-35


A. I read a psychologist who said that Christians were very much like porcupines on a cold winter’s night. The cold drives them to huddle together to keep warm, but as soon as they get close to another they start jabbing each other with their spines and that forces them to move apart; thus they are forever coming together and moving apart in a kind of slow dance.

B. To dwell above with saints we love, Oh that will be glory. But to dwell below with saints we know, well, that’s another story.


No where else in the gospels do we have this formula for dealing with faults, conflicts, Matthew 18:15-17. Don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, dealt with this during the Sermon on the Mount.

Peter asks a question related to this topic in vs. 21, Repeated in many of the gospels.

We are like a little boy who was saying his prayers. As he went down the list of his family, asking God to bless them, he omitted his brother’s name. His mother said to him, “Why didn’t you pray for Cliff?” He said, “I’m not going to ask God to bless Cliff because he hit me.” And his mother said, “Don’t you remember Jesus said to forgive your enemies?” The little boy said, “That’s just the trouble. He’s not my enemy; he’s my brother!”

Jesus goes on in Matthew to illustrate this with the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, only found here in this gospel. Description of parable:

B. We see here the principle of humor used by Jesus- hyperbole. Imagine a slave who owes the king some money. Make that a lot of money. Ten thousand talents, even. We may not get the joke, but Jesus’ listeners would have: That’s more money than the

Roman Government had! It’s as if your freshman daughter had called up to say she’d run a little money up on the credit card you gave her. How much? The national debt.

C. Better yet, when the man is called to pay, he says, “Give me a little more time and I will pay all” (18:26). This is like the girl telling her father that she “plans to get a job at Christmas” to pay off that maxed-out credit card. What’s a king to do? Instead of laughing the slave out of his court (or into prison), he simply forgives the debt. She calls the credit card company and whines a little, so they let her off the hook. Just like that.

A. What would you do to celebrate if all of your debts were suddenly canceled?

D. The slave leaves and finds someone who owes him a hundred denarii—a few months’ wages. Not only does he demand the money, he chokes the poor guy. That goes beyond merely uncharitable; it’s downright cruel. One might even say comically so. In the end, the unjust slave gets his due. He is tossed in jail until he can pay in full, which he never can.

E. Here, Jesus lays one exaggeration on top of another until the audience can’t help but see how utterly ridiculous it is to hold a ten-dollar grudge against a neighbor when God, the gracious king, has wiped clean a fortune’s worth of sin.

F. The only way to break through the resentment barrier that separates us from each other is to forgive. Forgiveness is the virtue we most enjoy (through Jesus Christ), and least employ (to others). We all love to be forgiven- we expect it, and want it. But we find it a struggle to forgive; we resist it, and sometimes refuse to do it.

Thesis: Our Lord reveals two reasons why Christians must forgive.

For instances:

1. Anything less is hypocritical

A. Vs. 33

B. (Eph 4:31 NIV) Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. (Eph 4:32 NIV) Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

C. Vs. 25- The fact that the debt could never be paid is a good indication that this punishment is a reference to hell. Where else are men sent to pay for their sin, the unpayable debt they owe to God? People may go to hell to pay for their sins, but one thing you need to know is all eternity in hell will still not pay for their sins. They just go there to pay whatever is possible to be paid. The parable teaches that the debt of sin is so vast that it could never be repaid. You could never recover the glory stolen from God. And the sad fact is that men who have spent eternity in hell will be no better for their payment than they were when they began--they’ll be no more fit for heaven at the end of that time, were there an end, than they would be in its beginning.

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