Forgiveness as the Way of Discipleship

September 13, 2020


Debt is a heavy burden to bear.

Today, the reading from Matthew tells a parable about debt. Jesus tells this parable and he tells it in response to a question about forgiveness. Jesus speaks about the forgiveness of debt.

How many of you have debt? How many of you owe someone money? Maybe you owe a bank money for the mortgage on your house. Maybe you owe money for the payments on your car. Maybe you have student, or maybe you have credit card debt.

Many, many people in our society live in debt. They own money, sometimes large sums of money.

What does it fell like, to carry burden of debt? What does it feel like to have a debt load?

Debt can be a huge burden to bear. A debt is like a huge weight that sits right on your shoulders and you have to carry it everywhere. Always there in the back of your mind, haunting you.  It can affect every part of your life.

Debt is such a burden that it often breaks up marriages or even leads people to kill themselves.

How many of you have ever laid awake at night worrying about the money that you owe, how you are going to pay the bills and the bank?

Jesus tells us a story about a man in debt, and his debt was huge. It says he owed the king, his boss, 10,000 talents. Now as best I can estimate, that is between 2 and 7 billion dollars. Yes, I said billion dollars. This slave, this common worker owes a huge amount.

Imagine the weight of that burden. Imagine trying to sleep at night and just live your life day by day owing someone a billion dollars.

And then, the debt is called up. The Lord, the boss, the creditor wants his money. He wants all two billion dollars.

And there is no such thing as declaring bankruptcy. He must pay the debt, either with money, or by going to prison.

So the servant begs and says, “Have patience, I will repay you.”

How many years would it take for you to pay back 2 billion dollars?. It would take me several lifetimes.

This slave is never going to be able to pay that loan. It is an impossible debt. When he says he will pay, it is nothing but a desperate plea. He cannot pay it.

And then listen to this, “And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.” Just like that, 10,000 talents, 2 billion dollars, an unimaginable debt, Gone.

Jesus says this is what the kingdom of heaven is like. In God’s kingdom, huge debts are forgiven. The burden is removed. The debtor is set free.

God forgives your sin just as this king forgave his slave. God forgives your huge debt. God forgives, and it is gone.

Now maybe this isn’t a big deal to you, because maybe you don’t realize how much you owe God.

You see, every time to do wrong to God, you owe. You ow God restitution. You must pay him back for the offense you have done to him.

And also, every time to do wrong to another person, you owe God. Because that person is a child of God, and if you harm them, in any way, you have offended.

It is like if someone were to mistreat your children. You might sue them. You might seek compensation for the harm that is done. Someone would owe you a debt.

Every time we harm one of God’s children, in any way, we owe him a debt.

How much do you owe God?

God has give you everything that you have.  How much of  your stuff have you used to do God’s work? How much of your money do you give to the work of spreading God’s word, feeding God’s people, worshiping God’s son? How much of your time do you give?

How much do you owe God?

God has given you a life. How much is that worth. A million dollars? A billion dollars? Two billion dollars? And how much of your life have you spent on your selfish desires?

How much do you owe God?

Every time you are selfish, every time you put yourself first and God last, every time you disobey and do things your way instead, every time you sin, you add to your debt.  And you just keep adding to your debt and adding to your debt and adding to your debt. You owe God big time.

And how are you ever going to pay him back?

Are you naïve enough to think that mumbling your way through a worship service halfheartedly for an hour will somehow cover that debt?

You owe God a huge sum, 10,000 talents, 2 billion dollars and you will have to repay it.  And God has every right to get it from you. It is his. So to prison you go, you must be punished, if you don’t pay then it is prison and punishment until the debt is paid.

Some day you will have to answer for your life. You will stand before the Lord and have to make a reckoning of all you have done and all that you did not do.

What will you say? Will you offer some feeble excuse or apology? Will you promise to pay God back, to make it right.

No, all that you will be able to say on that day is “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” You will fall to your knees and beg for patience.

That is what happens to the man in the parable. His excuse is feeble and he has no way out.

So listen, so now listen to what the Lord does, “Out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.”

This is what God does for you. When you are before him and you are faced with all that we owe, God simple says, “I forgive you.” “I forgive you” for all of the wrongs. I forgive for all that you did and all that you did not do.

God says, “I forgive you, all of it, all those billions of dollars, the entire amount the whole thing.

He doesn’t readjust the mortgage or reduce your payments, he doesn’t work out some kind of agreement for you to give a little every month. No, God wipes away the entire amount. Complete forgiveness.

You are forgiven. You are free.

So why would you hold some small petty grievance against your brother, or your sister, or your friend, or your mother or father, or anyone who has done you wrong. You are forgiven of that massive debt that you owe God, so why would you ever need to collect the debt that others owe you.

As best I can estimate that slave went after a 6000 dollar debt. He had just been forgiven 2 billion dollars and he was angry about a 6000 dollar debt!

We have been forgiven by God, and we have been set free. The burden of sin is gone. So now, as followers of Jesus Christ, we forgive us, for the comparative small offenses they have against us.

As followers of Jesus, we forgive and we forgive, and we forgive. Not just seven times, but seventy seven times.

God forgives you for all the wrong that you have done to him. God forgives you all that you owe him. You have been set free. Now go and do likewise. Amen.

Bible References

  • Matthew 18:21 - 35