Stories

By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
June 22, 2014

Matthew 18:26-35
In Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant, we learn the importance of forgiveness in our lives. Jesus teaches us to forgive everything, always! We need to ask seriously, “Who in my life is unforgiveable?”

I. Scene One
This story of the unforgiving debtor highlights the incredible forgiveness of the King himself. In Mtt.18: 21-22, Peter had just asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, and Jesus answered, no limit. In Jesus’ parable to illustrate this principle, there was no way the first servant could repay the debt. The King forgave a fortune, showing his astonishing generosity.
A. Justice, a sense of right and wrong, is the necessary backdrop of the King’s forgiveness. To experience God’s forgiveness, we must admit our sin.
B. Having a sense of right and wrong is not pretending that something did not happen. We must acknowledge that something wrong happened, causing pain. Only then can forgiveness happen.

We cannot fix sin ourselves (Rom. 3:23). Like the servant, we owe debts we cannot repay. In response, God gives us more than we could ever ask for; He cancels our debts at great cost to Himself. In God’s great love, He bruised Himself with the death of His Son for our forgiveness.

II. Scene Two
Jesus teaches us the absurdity of withholding forgiveness. The first servant demanded payment from the second servant. The first servant did not have the context of the great mercy of the King; he had forgotten the huge forgiveness offered to him by his Master.

We would all like to see a little bit of justice in isolation, but the background of this story is the incredible mercy God has given each of us. He then calls us to “let go”, to forgive others, and not act like a miser counting everything that others owe us. We need to stop trying to make justice happen, and release it to Jesus, every time the pain of the perceived injustice wounds us again.

III. Scene Three
Jesus teaches us, through this story, the terrifying fate of the unforgiving. The first servant was “to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed” (Mtt. 18:34). This is indicative of how we shall be treated unless we forgive each other from the heart.

Not forgiving others is like a revoking of the forgiveness that God Himself has given us. This is a warning that unforgiveness invokes God’s wrath upon ourselves. Jesus does not indicate that this first servant is going to hell, but he will pay back every bit that he owes (Mtt. 18:34).

We hold on to unforgiveness of others with a tight fist, which hurts and keeps wounding us. We pay dearly because we will not forgive. It keeps us from who we should be in Christ.

Forgiveness is a process, letting go of our sense of justice with others, while clinging to our own personal forgiveness.

Christ calls us to forgive, let go, be free! We need to start living with others in the context of our own forgiveness and reconciliation to Him.