Receiving and Giving Forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35)

Some translations give Jesus’ answer as “77” and others as “70 times 7,” because the Greek can be taken either way. Jesus was not telling Peter he could stop forgiving the 78th or 491st time someone wronged him. He was saying that keeping track of the number of times you “forgive” someone is not truly forgiving him at all. True forgiveness is releasing the malice, resentment, and desire to retaliate that can dominate your heart when you feel you have been wronged.

The story Jesus tells to illustrate what it means to forgive begins with a subtle reminder that God is fully aware of the debt that each of us owes Him. A day of reckoning awaits each of us when we must account for our actions during this life…

Romans 14:11-12

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Ten thousand talents was more money than anyone could ever imagine having. The law provided that a man and his family could be sold as slaves by a creditor in order to obtain the money that was owed (2 Kings 4:1; Leviticus 25:39-46). Whether it was equivalent to a few million dollars or a hundred million, the point is that it was so large that it could not possibly be repaid even through a lifetime of slavery or by any other means.

The servant falls to his knees and asks for what he feels is the most he could possibly hope for—more time to pay the debt. Imagine his overwhelming amazement as he received not a loan extension—but a complete forgiveness of the entire debt!

God can do more than we can possibly imagine…

Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

This story does not give mention of the price that had to be paid in order for the servant’s debt to be written off . . . but let no one not forget…

2Corinthians 5:21

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.



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