The Unmerciful Servant (Mt 18:21-35)
1. "The Parables Of Jesus" we have considered so far have centered around the kingdom of heaven itself...
a. How the "seed" of the kingdom would be received ("The Sower")2. The next parable we shall consider is one that describes "the character of the citizens" which are to make up the kingdom...
b. Its mixed character and future consummation ("The Wheat And The Tares", "The Dragnet")
c. Its growth and development ("The Mustard Seed", "The Leaven")
d. Its exceeding value ("The Hidden Treasure", "The Pearl Of Great Price")
a. It is commonly called "The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant"[We begin our study by noticing...]
b. It is recorded in Mt 18:21-35
I. THE PARABLE AND ITS MESSAGE
A. THE OCCASION WHICH LED TO ITS TELLING...
1. Peter's question about forgiving a brother - Mt 18:21
a. He probably thought he was being very gracious2. Jesus' initial response - Mt 18:22
b. For many Jewish rabbis taught that three (3) times was sufficient
3. To reinforce His point, Jesus proceeds to tell the parable...
a. His answer is not to be taken literally
b. Rather, "Jesus confronts Peter with the truth that the spirit of forgiveness really knows no boundaries."
(Believers' Study Bible
B. THE PARABLE ITSELF...
1. A king shows mercy to his servant by canceling his huge debt - Mt 18:23-27
2. That servant in turn then refuses to cancel a fellow servant's petty debt - Mt 18:28-30
a. How large amount was 10,000 talents?
1) "If the Attic talent is intended, about 6,000 denarii were involved in just one Attic talent." (BSB)
2) "Remembering that a denarius was a day's normal wage, the poor fellow owed something like 60,000,000 denarii." (BSB)
3) Using the rate of $50 as one day's wage, the amount would be $3,000,000,000 (3 billion dollars!)
b. The mercy of the king goes beyond the actual request
1) The request was for patience to pay the debt
2) Yet the king was willing to forgive the debt entirely!
3. The final result: Upon this cruel servant the king imposes the former sentence, even adding to it! - Mt 18:31-34
a. How much was a hundred denarii?
1) Remember, a "denarii" was equivalent to a day's wage
2) Using the same rate above ($50/day), the amount would be $5000
b. The unmerciful servant refuses to heed the same plea made earlier by himself
a. Before, he, his family, and his possessions were only going to be soldC. THE LESSON OF THE PARABLE...
b. But now, he is to handed over to the "torturers"
1. As stated by Jesus Himself - Mt 18:35
a. "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his2. "Prompted by gratitude the forgiven sinner must always yearn to forgive whoever has trespassed against him" (unknown)
b. Failure to forgive a brother will bring severe punishment!
3. We can also draw several subsidiary lessons:
a. We are all God's debtors - Mt 18:23; cf. Ro 3:23[Perhaps the most important point we learn from this parable is that the kingdom of heaven is to consist of people who are both forgiven and forgiving, who have both received mercy and are merciful. - cf. Jm 2:13
b. None are able to pay what is owed - Mt 18:25
c. But by Christ's atoning sacrifice, the debt is paid - Mt 18:27; cf. Mt 20:28
d. Only those who are willing to forgive others can be assured that they are indeed forgiven - Mt 18:35; cf. Mt 6:14-15
e. It should be easy to forgive others, for what we owe God is infinitely more than what others owe us - Mt 18:32,33
f. The unforgiving person is destined for everlasting punishment! - Mt 18:34,35; cf. Ro 1:31
Understanding the importance of forgiving others, how can we develop a forgiving spirit?]
II. DEVELOPING A FORGIVING SPIRIT
A. FOCUS ON GOD'S FORGIVENESS OF YOU...
1. This is where the unmerciful servant went wrong
2. This is how Paul suggested we develop a forgiving spirit - Ep 4:32; Col 3:13
B. ALLOW THE LORD TO HELP US TO "FORGIVE AND FORGET"...
1. Some may protest and say "It is impossible to forget!"
2. But let's first define "forget"
a. To be unable to remember (something)-- The American Heritage Dictionary
b. To treat with thoughtless inattention; neglect: forget one's family
c. To leave behind unintentionally
d. To fail to mention
3. When I think of forgiving and forgetting, it is the last three definitions I have in mind
a. Technically, we may be able to recall the offense to our minds4. Is this possible? By the grace of God, yes!
b. But for all practical purposes, we so disregard the offense that it is "out of mind"
a. The example of Joseph - Gen 41:51-- Both these men had plenty of things done to them that could have made them resentful, but God helped them to "forget"
b. The attitude of Paul - Php 3:13
5. Can a person who says "I will forgive but not forget", truly have forgiven?
6. "If I say, 'Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,' as though the God, who twice a day washes all the sands on all shores of
all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love." (Amy Carmichael)
1. I believe that when we truly contemplate the love, mercy, and forgiveness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus...
a. It is indeed possible to forgive and forget2. And from "The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant"...
b. At least in the sense of removing it from the attention of our minds
a. We should learn that it is essential that we do so"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their
b. For the citizens of the kingdom of heaven are to be characterized by the attitudes of mercy and forgiveness towards others
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." - Jesus (Mt 6:14-15)
Have we allowed the mercy of God to melt our hearts? Have we even accepted the mercy of God into our lives by obeying Jesus Christ? Allow "The Parable Of The Unmerciful Servant" to remind us that both are possible!