October 23

Saturday's Scripture Story

Parable of the
Unmerciful Servant

Our story for this week comes on the backside of a conversation about forgiveness between Jesus and His disciple Peter.

Peter, in trying to gaining a deeper understanding of forgiveness, asks Jesus about the proper amount of times to forgive another person. The standing rule of the day for some rabbis was three times. So Peter is seemingly quite gracious by more than doubling the standard. But Jesus seems to throw that standard out the window when He uses the term 7 x 70.

To expand that perspective, Luke shares a similar wrinkle in which Jesus tells His disciples that if 7 times a day someone sins against you, you’re to forgive them 7 times if they ask.

You may know today’s story (or you may think that you know this story) but go read it in Matthew 18 and pay attention to the context. Take note of what is right before it: Jesus talking about 2-3 coming together in His name... people formerly at odds. Now united in Him. This is the goal of forgiveness – unity under Jesus.

Matthew 18:21-35

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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My Jesus, teach me not just how to forgive, but why to forgive. Teach me that one of the goals of forgiveness is to be united under You and to be together under You, to pray together under You, and to seek blessing together under You. Reconciliation and forgiveness are goals worth a strong effort from me to honor You. So I pray in Your name. Amen.