22“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
23“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him.24In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars.25He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
26“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’27Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
28“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
29“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded.30But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
31“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened.32Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.33Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’34Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
35“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
This parable should make us tremble in fear while we shout for joy.
Peter is being typical Peter. He thinks forgiving his brother seven times would be a huge accomplishment, and face it, most of us would too. But that is just the beginning for God. When Jesus says “seventy times seven” he really means “endlessly” because the number seven symbolized “completeness” at that time. The disciples would have been shocked at this response and we should be too. Christians cannot hold grudges – period.
On to the parable. The King settling up with his debtors is obviously God and we are all debtors to him. I love the modern translation that uses “millions of dollars” because it puts the enormity of our sins in some perspective. “He couldn’t pay” also properly describes our sin situation before God. We absolutely cannot be good enough to go to heaven and we absolutely could never repay God for our sins and his blessings. I once had a dream where someone was calculating my debt to God. They were using a calculator with a paper tape. The tape started to run wildly out of the calculator forming first a huge pile on the ground, then a mountain, and then a ball that started to drift out into space and finally it was a planet that dwarfed the Earth. Finally a hand grasped the end of the tape and pressed into its palm and handed it to me. It read “Paid In Full” in dark red blood.
I really had that dream and I think it really represents what I owe God. I could never pay it, but Jesus did on Calvary. In the parable the master “released him and forgave his debt”. He set him free and took the weight of that huge debt away. That is how wonderful our God is.
So what does the servant do? What each of us has done a million times. He finds someone who owes him a relative pittance, and gets mad (“grabs him by the throat”) and holds him prisoner. Every time we get mad because someone hurts us in any way, we are being that servant. We are being that EVIL servant. And notice that our inability to forgive imprisons the person we don’t forgive and upsets those around us.
Lastly, notice the type of forgiveness God requires of us: “from your heart”. It isn’t enough to not show our anger. It isn’t enough to not get even. We are required to love the debtor and truly forgive the debt. In my case, I must put the person’s two inches of calculator tape and toss it on to my Jupiter size ball of calculator tape and see if it changes the blood red “Paid In Full” at the end of the tape.
It never does. Beginner’s Online Bible Study *obbs*
Lord, please help me to instantly forgive every wrong from my heart. Please Lord, change my heart so it can’t ever hold a grudge, not even for a minute.