Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Matthew 18:21-35

April 7 – Matthew 18:21-35

How many times should you forgive your brother?  Jesus had just finished telling them what to do when a brother sins against them. Peter probably thinks he is being pious by offering to forgive his brother up to seven times. Honestly, we probably don’t even want to forgive someone once. Our sinful flesh finds it unfair or desires punishment or justice or whatever.

But Jesus answers that not seven times, but seventy-seven times (sometimes translated seventy times seven). Now Jesus is not saying that you should keep count and when you’ve reached 77 (or 490), you should stop forgiving someone. If you’re keeping track of the number of times you’ve forgiven someone, you probably aren’t really forgiving anyway. Seven is the number of completion. So he’s saying forgive, and forgive, and forgive, again and again and again. Always. Every time.

Jesus then goes on to the tell the parable of the unmerciful servant. A man owes the king a lot of money. Ten thousand talents, more than he could ever pay off in a lifetime, or even several lifetimes. When he begs the king to give him more time, the king instead cancels the debt and lets the man go free. However, the man goes out and demands a fellow servant pay back the debt that he is owed. A hundred denarii. A denarius is a day’s wage. Instead of being merciful to his fellow servant, the man has the servant thrown in prison until he can pay the debt.

When the king hears about what the man has done, the king says, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’” God has forgiven us a huge, impossible-to-pay-back,  debt. Why should we hold something small against our brother? If Christ has forgiven him, why shouldn’t we?
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