Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 5 months ago

Divine Forgiveness (Mat 18:21-35)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Christian McArthur

To open them remain standing we'll begoing to the New Testament. This morning the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter Eighteen, Matthew, eighteen atthew, eighteen, will begin ourreading and Verse Twenty One. This is the word of the Lord. Let usgive our attention to its reading. Then Peter came up and said to him himbeing Jesus Lord. How often will my brother sinagainst me and I forgive him as many as seven times. Jesus said to him. I do not say to youseven times, but seventy seven times. Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven may becompared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants when he began to settle one was broughtto him who owed him ten thousand talents and since he could not pay, his masterordained ordered him to be sold with his wife and children and all that hehad and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees.Imploring him have patience with me. I will pay you everything and out of pity for him the Master ofthat servant released him and forgave him the debt, but when that same servant went out, hefound one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred Dinari and seizinghim. He began to choke him saying pay what you owe so this fellow servant fell down andpleaded with him have patience with me. I will pay you. He refused and went and put him inprison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what hehad taken, what had taken place, they were greatly distressed and they wentand reported to their master. All that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and saidto him. You wicked serve, and I forgave you all that debt, because you pleadedwith me and should not. You have had mercy onyour fellow servant as I had mercy on you and in anger. His master deliveredhim to the jailers until he should pay all his debt, so also my heavenly father will do toevery one of you. If you do not forgive your brother from your heart, you may be see it well a bit of a hard saying to in thatparable this morning. Isn't it it's it's shocking and a lot of a lotof ways this morning will be talking, obviouslyabout forgiveness, certainly God's forgiveness for us, butwhat it looks like to be called to be people of forgiveness people ready tooffer forgiveness to others. By way of introduction, I want toconsider some words from an English poet from seventeen eleven. His name is Alexander Pope. You mightbe familiar with him and Alexander Pope Famously wrote: AnEssay in the form of a poem entitled an essay on Criticism, part two. He had a lot to say about criticism,apparently, and in the poem he speaks of thedangers of prideful and arrogant, critique...

...on being too hard on people and in theend of one of the final stanzas of the poem he remarks in a now famous line to err is human, to forgive divine, that's a very long poem. It's veryinteresting. I would encourage you to take a look at it at some point, butthat's a line that most of us are probably familiar with to air is human,to forgive divine, it's a profound truth. Isn't itone that doesn't take long to put to the test, especially in our currentculture, where everyone airs everything on social media, where it looks likemass media has made a whole industry on on journaling the public foibles ofpublic figures. I mean it does not take long to understand that airing isindeed a common human capacity, but equally so it is very difficult to findforgiveness and the public spear. Isn't it we're really good at pointing fingers, but it is rare, so rare to finddisplays of forgiveness, so rare indeed that when we see them,if we've seen them, it causes us to stop, perhaps hope was right. Forgiveness, itseems, is a divine quality. Well, in our passage this morning, as we haveheard, we find a command from Jesus to forgive to forgive extravagantly, but if pope is right, that sets up abig a bit of a problem for us. Doesn't it if forgiveness is indeed divine? How isit that we follow this command? Well today we come to a passage andparable that that threatens the listener, with banishment from theKingdom of God, if we don't forgive, threatens withholding of God's forgiveness if we are not people marked by forgiveness well, by way of introduction, I want toconsider the context to this morning. This parable comes right after apassage that we actually looked at and Sunday school last week talking about the process of restoring a brotherwithin the church, who is in sin, the passage that we develop a lot of ourtheology around church discipline on and you'll note in Matthew, eighteenverse, Fifteen begins if a brother sends against you and then Jesus lays out this processfor how to restore this brother, a process that. Finally, if you find that this brotheris continually not repentant in an excommunication of removing thisindividual from the body, so a horrible thing to think about, but it itself, as Paul will explainlater, is part of this process of restoration, bringing someone in and so, as we think of this passage inMatthew About Church discipline. We should remember that this whole thingis really about forgiveness and and how is it that we treat sin within the body while Peter, who is often the discipleto speak up and situations like this comes to the Lord after he is outlinedthis process of restoration and says Lord. How often do I need to forgive abrother if he sends against me,...

...seven times seems fair. Then it's easy to point a finger atPeter here, but actually, if you look at Rabinical tradition around this time,the writing say well. Three times is enough: If someone commits the same sinover and over again, so Peter here is actually being quitegenerous, doubling it and then some, but Jesus response is interesting. He says actually seventy seven times for those of you married here. Youmight be saying well, my spouse has gotten there, but I don't think Jesusis giving us a particular amount of times to forgive, but is speaking of aculture of forgiveness which he will lay out for us in this parable. Thatwill look at this morning under three headings, one a time to forgive to a time to collect and three a time of reckoning, a time to forgive the time to collect in a time ofreckoning. Let's look at this parable a little bitcloser. This First Section of time to forgive Jesus, begins, teaching andResponse to Peter's question and he tells of a King, and it has come time for this king tosettle accounts with his servants and, and one servant in particular, isbrought to him. The passage says he owes ten thousandtalents now to think about this number. A talent is the largest monetary unitin the Greek language, and ten thousand is the highest Greek numeral. So if you think about that, what whatthis guy is saying is he owes like a billion dollars not to say that jeusexaggerating, but he is very, very poignantly.Bringing out the fact that this guy owes a debt that is insurmountable, it's unimaginable, I mean think for aminute. What's a number that you could never save in your lifetime? Okay, that's how much this Cayos a lot of money and when he doesn't havethe cash the king says well, sell him and his wife and his children, and allthat he has and collect the proceeds we we find here is this. This debt heldagainst him is not only related to his pocket book, but his entire life and that of his family, what's probably implied here, is thatthis king would sell this man into slavery, as well as his generations ofchildren, which was not an uncommon practice in Roman law at this time, and children born into slavery would bethe possession of the master unless they were somehow able to buythemselves out of that, and we know that this debt will notsoon be paid off. Well, the man pleads with the king. The text says he falls on his knees and he begins to beg verse. Twenty six have patience with me. I will pay you everything. This is kind of a humiliating scene,but there's also some comedy to it, because there is no way this man couldever repay this debt. This is an empty promise in a lot ofways. The king would do well...

...if he was thinking fiscally to sell this guy off, to cut his losses and to collect what he could. But theking's response is interesting. Isn't it it says that he has pity on the man.Some translations say he has compassion, and this is a good translation. Itbrings out this quality that we often see Jesus having when he comes upon thedestitute, the poor, the needy, he has compassion on them and so the master forgives the debt andreleases him. It's easy to miss this, but there's twothings going on here: one is this: Guy: is a servant or BondServant of the king. He is the king's possession and it would take much for him. Debtexcluded to buy himself out of this relationship, but the king not onlyforgives, this incredible amount of money, but he gives him his life. He frees him. The text says, and his wife and his children this man goes free to air is human to forgive divine. Ifthat is true, then this king has certainly showed divine forgivenesshasn't he. This is no small transaction. You can imagine this guy walking intothe king's Court, not sure. What's going to go down and walking out free, truly a new man, his future in the future of his wife,the future of his children has changed in a moment. It's amazing to thinkabout. Well, if our parable begins with thetime to forgive it quickly. Enjoin moves to a Second Section, a time tocollect so this man, who has just been releasedfrom his debt, who has been given his life back, seemingly use his uses, hisfirst moments of freedom to track down a fellow servant who owes them ahundred Denari. Now Hundred Denari is no small amount.This would probably be several months money for a a regular day. Labor ofthis time, and yet in light of what this man hasjust been forgiven, there really is no comparison. Is there so the text says he finds his fellowservant. He seizes him and he grabs him and he begins to choke him H, demandingpay. What you owe it seems ridiculous from our vantage point. Doesn't it thatthis man immediately would go out, and it would seem forget about thisincredible debt that has just been paid on his behalf and be so unforgiven thin almostimmediately, it's incomprehensible to think about.Isn't it Oh Matthew here in retelling? Thisstory is careful to show that the second servants response to the callfor repayment is precisely like the first servant see he falls to his knees.He takes the same posture and he says be patient with me. I will repay you what's different about this servant,though, as he actually probably could have repaid.

I mean it's not a small amount, butit's something he could save up and repay nothing in comparison to the amountthat the first servant was forgiven, and that is a vivid contrast that weshould note in this passage, but instead of releasing the man likethe gracious King did, he does quite the opposite and has himthrown into prison until the payment is able to be made to air is human to forgive divine? Apparently it's true in this man's case.He is unable to forgive even right after this great forgiveness has beengiven to him, and the text says that he's brazenabout it. He does it in front of other servants. He doesn't even wait untilyou know. Nightfall comes other folks are watching. He humiliates this fellowservant and his unforgiveness, and these other servants are, I mean,understandably, shaken by this and disturbed by it and go and tell themaster, and so this time of collection thenturns to the final section of the parable a time of reckoning. The man's indiscretion comes back tobite him. Doesn't it the other servants who saw whathappened report? The whole thing to the king and the Master Summons The Servant, andhe declares you wicked servant. I forgave you all the debt, because youpleaded with me. You should therefore have mercy on yourfellow servant, just as I had mercy on you and in his anger, this master turns theservants over to the jailers until his debt should be repaid. We know how longthat will take this word for jailers here is, is kindof a disturbing one. It's not a common one used some translations say,tortures, and this would rightly fit this this interesting word. This is not a pleasant sentence cell that this man is going to serve and he's not going anywhere soon, and then Jesus ends this parable. Withthis statement that likely caused us made us a little bit uncomfortable aswe heard it read so also, and then the stomach turns alittle bit. Doesn't it so also? My heavenly father will do toevery one of you. If you do not forgive your brothers from your heart, Jesus can't mean this right, there's no way. We have theologicalcategories that get us out of this. I mean we know that we are saved by gracethrough faith right. We are not saved by work, certainly not saved on themerit of our ability to forgive. We know that, and yet here it is right in front of us, and it's not the only time that Jesushas said this is it fact, a few chapters prior at the endof the Lord's prayer. How does Jesus in the prayer he says for if you forgive theirtrespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive other'strespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses as James andhis epistle summarizes it for judgment...

...is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. This parable, unlike some others thatwe encounter, is not that difficult to understand, and yet we will go to greatintellectual lengths to veil the obvious implications that God's wordhas for us. Forgive or you will not be forgiven. Why is this so difficult? Because forgiveness is hard? Some of you might be thinking right now.You have no idea what I've been through. You have no idea how difficult it is toforgive, especially when the trespass is sourced, and someone close to uslike brothers and sisters within the church, which is precisely what thistext is aimed at and its context right. People really wrong us. People truly do wicked things. Brothersand sisters in the Church disappoint us. They neglect us. They don't meet withour expectations and it is hurtful- and it is difficult to forgive if youwere to go out and pole people who have left the church. My guess is nine out of ten times. Youwould find that they left because they were hurt by someone, perhaps even a pastor or a leader inthe church and they've removed themselves fromthis earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of God, because they wereunable to forgive. Forgiveness is hard, it is costly, but here we have fairly clearly thatJesus is asking us to own the debt of others to forgive them, and not only that but threatening towithhold forgiveness. If we don't perhaps this morning, Jesus and this Texas is calling us toreorient ourselves just a bit. Perhaps God is calling on us whostruggle with unforgiveness to shift our view just a bit. Perhaps you are familiar with the storyof Corey Timbo Corey was a Christian arrested forhiding Dutch Jews under the Nazi regime during the Holocaust she herself being thrown intoconcentration camps and corey. Writes about this experienceand it's horrifying. If you, if you've read any of her books, it's quitestriking the suffering that she's gone through, and yet core is constantly talkingabout how God has forgiven her, since she seems to make little of theoffences of others constantly thinking about how she is offended a holy God, but how God in Christ has shown hergreat forgiveness. Well, one of the things corydon inaddition to writing books as she would go and speak in different venues andone evening in a church in Munich after she had talked a balding man in a gray,overcoat came walking toward her and she froze because she immediately recognized him as one of the more brutal guards andcamp rays Ravensbourne. One of these...

...concentration camps, specifically the camp that her bestfriend had died in at the hands of guards like this one and he began walking toward her. She doesn't know what her to do hermind is flooded with images of the injustice that this man had committedagainst her and her friends and he walks up to her and- and he says thank you for for beinghere. Thank you. For speaking, you know you mention Ravens Brook andyour testimony what I was a guard there and he says what I've I've since cometo faith in Jesus I've experienced his forgiveness. He says: Oh, how I old love to hearthat forgiveness come from your lips and she froze again all that she couldthink about. Was the great injustice done to her. Well, she writes about this experiencein one of her books. It says I prayed and Jesus helped me. I can lift my hand.I can do that much, but you must supply the feeling and corey lifted up her hand, and shesays, as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulderraced down my arm sprang into our joined hands, and then this healing warmth seemed toflood my whole bang. I forgive you brother with all my heart. I cried. She writes for a long moment. Wegrasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I hadnever known God's love so intensely as I did then, but even so I realized it was not mylove I had tried, but I did not have thepower. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as cory continues to write. She talksabout how God's grace allowed her to look past this man and his great injustice toward her to a God who is holy and Cory's greatinjustice toward him, but also to a rugged cross that stoodbetween her and the wrath of God and as she looked to the broken bodyand shed blood of Christ for a sinner like her, she was able, by the power ofthe Holy Spirit, to extend forgiveness to this man who had done her so wrong. It is very difficult for us to staredown the Cross of Christ in all of its brutality and all of itsbeauty and continue to withhold forgiveness. The power to forgive is not found inour own ability to muster up a heart of forgiveness, but to consider afresh God's heart offorgiveness shown to us in Jesus Christ and as we shift our orientation ourfocus to the great redemption that is in Christ. The deaths owe to US grow strangely dim, as we focus on a payment that has beenmade on our behalf by the blood of a crucified savior and his lavishforgiveness offer to us. We grow in the ability to forgive bythe power of the spirit, the power to forgive others is trulydivine,...

...but given to us, as we reflect on thedivine forgiveness offered to us in Jesus Christ. So this morning is we conclude. I want to consider a few of the ApostlePaul's words. Church at Colosse was struggling withsome different issues returning to habits that did notreflect the freedom that they had found in Christ. But, interestingly enough, Paul doesnot tell them to muster up enough will to act like Jesus, but he calls them to reflect on thegreat debt that was paid on their behalf and this morning I want toconclude by reflecting, on those words together from Colossians Chapter Two beginning and verse: Thirteen Paul Rights to the Colossians. He saysand you who were dead and your trespasses and the uncircumcision ofyour flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven all yourtrespasses by canceling, the record of debt thatstood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Our life wasgone, pulses dead in the depths of our depth, were we imprisoned by our ownSin by God? Rich and love and mercy came to us in Christ, giving us life by uniting us to his son, and how did he do this Paul Answers by canceling the record of our debtthat stood against us with all of its legal demands? God took that bill that wee could neverrepay and he nailed it to a rom and crossalongside his sun and now that notice of debt that wasinsurmountable is stamped in the blood of Jesus paidin, for he has paid our debt and he has set us free from what heldUS captive and he has given us life and now we stand free free to love, free to show mercy and yes, free toeven forgive because he first loved, showed mercyand forgave US heymes pray together.

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