Daily Reading from Matthew 18:21-35
21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
I have read the common teaching of the day in response to the question Peter asked the Lord was up to three but not more. The question was, “how often shall a brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” When Peter answered his own question hoping for the Lord’s affirmation, he was being generous. He said, “till seven times?” Peter already knew the Lord was all about excessive forgiveness. I bet he had his chest pushed out waiting for an attaboy in front of the other disciples. Jesus answered with a surprising seventy times seven. Can you imagine if baseball had that kind of forgiveness? Strike four hundred and eighty-nine, strike four hundred and ninety, you’re out! That would be hard to keep up with wouldn’t it? That is the point. Jesus taught that his disciples were to not keep count when dealing with forgiveness. Then Jesus illustrated with a story of a man that owed a king-sized debt, ten thousand talents. One of my study Bibles estimated the modern equivalent as six billion dollars. The debtor begged for forgiveness and made a promise to pay back all. Yea right! That is quite the coin. Still he was forgiven the debt. How rich is the man who forgives a six-billion-dollar debt? However rich he was, he was certainly full of Grace. That fella who had been forgiven the massive debt loaned another guy one hundred pence (estimated $12,000 in today’s currency) but his borrower couldn’t pay and he also fell down and begged for forgiveness and a promise to pay. The one that had been forgiven six billion had the guy who owed a mere twelve thousand arrested and thrown into debtors’ prison. He did not forgive as he had been forgiven. In this story God is the one who can forgive even king-sized debts and we are the ones who owed them. If he has forgiven us and taken upon himself our sin debt surely, we can pass it on. We must forgive and not keep count. We must try to forgive like God does. It will not be easy, but it is God’s requirement.