Matthew 18:21-35 (edited for space)
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him… The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“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. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused…When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
This is the follow-up parable Jesus told after Peter suggested he would forgive someone seven times, a pitiful offering in the face of the forgiveness Peter would receive from His Master. The point of this story is clear: the man owed the king a debt he could never pay back. How he acquired such a massive debt, we do not know, but he owed it, nevertheless.
Sadly, upon his release, this forgiven man comes across another person who happens to owe HIM a little bit of money, but instead of following the king’s example, he has the other man thrown in jail. Big mistake. The King finds out about the wicked man’s ungracious and hypocritical deed and has him thrown into jail to be tortured until he pays his debt in full.
At the end of His parable, Jesus makes what seems to be a rather harsh statement regarding the rest of us: “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Essentially, if you stink at forgiveness then it calls your very salvation into question. Do you not know that WE as Christians are exactly like the man who was forgiven the MASSIVE debt? A debt WE could NEVER repay? In fact, OUR debt was paid for by Jesus Christ Himself. How can we NOT extend the same kind of grace and mercy to those who wrong us?
If you struggle with forgiveness, then you struggle with a full understanding of what Jesus has done for you. Re-visit the cross, friend…gaze into His swollen and blood-shot eyes…see the nails driven through His hands and feet…watch His chest fight to grab the next breathe of air…Hear Him as He says “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Don’t you know that He did that for YOU? You MUST do that for others, as well.