Tuesday, December 1

Jesus Story Teller - Part 6


Beginning Anew

He came to my desk with quivering lip;
The lesson was done…
“Have you a new leaf for me, dear Teacher?
I have spoiled this one!”
I took his leaf, all soiled and blotted,
And gave him a new one, all unspotted;
Then into his tired heart I smiled:
“Do better now, my child!”

I went to the throne with trembling heart;
The day was done...
“Have you a new day for me, dear Master?
I have spoiled this one!”
He took my day, all soiled and blotted,
And gave me a new one, all unspotted;
Then into my tired heart He smiled:
“Do better now, my child!”

--Kathleen Wheeler

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he 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 talents 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 "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 denarii. 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 you 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 greatly distressed 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 turned 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 from your heart."

One of the greatest things about Jesus' parables ... the answer is at the end! We don't have to guess what the point of the story.

So, what is the point of this parable? God expects us to forgive each other. It is right there in verse 35. The enormous gap God had to fill to forgive us REQUIRES us to forgive others in return and whatever their sin against us. That's hard to take. We tend to have too much pride to allow us to be trampled on again and again.

Note the context: this parable is an answer to the question, "How many times to I HAVE to forgive someone?" The answer requires bible math. For most of us, 70x7=490, which is a lot in it's own right. But 7 is the biblical number of completion and 7x7 would have been a strong statement. 70x7 is off the charts. There is no missing what Jesus is asking for. Forgiveness is not optional.

Throughout this parable there are a some places that the hearers would have gasped in shock. (Each are marked above in blue).
1. The extravagant forgiveness of the king (v. 27). He had no obligation to release this man from his debt. In fact, it was his right to throw the man into debtors prison and sell his family. The man was guilty.
2. The shortsightedness of the forgiven (v. 28-30). You can feel the shock in the story. This man that owed $1,000,000 chokes a man that owes him $5. We stand in judgment on the man. We want to see justice served. That's good and fine, but we need to be careful ... this story is set up. We naturally judge the man for his ungrace and lack of mercy but in doing this we rightly begin to feel uncomfortable. We look at this shortsighted man and find he is a mirror for us to examine ourselves.

So, we NEED to forgive each other ... but there is another subtle point ... we need to be concerned when we see people treat each other with ungrace (v. 31). When we see other servants of the King not forgiving each other we are expected to take that to the King. It needs to bother us. I think the passage says they were "greatly distressed" over the ungrace of the forgiven, shortsighted man.

To say we need to forgive others is so obvious but needs to be stated. So, let's dig in ... Can you identify someone that "owes you" something? Maybe someone betrayed a confidence? Stole something from you? I could list a thousand offenses and maybe I would hit one or two. I find that God is better at helping us determine what needs attention.

Go to Him in prayer. Ask Him to reveal the names of folks you need to forgive. Release them. Do it because God requires it. Do it because it is good for you.
"Forgiveness is not something we do for others, we do it for ourselves - to get well and finally move on."

DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.

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