In the last blog, finished early on Sunday morning, I said I would expand on what I said about God’s forgiveness and our response.
That was before the morning service at Holy Trinity, Huddersfield, when we had this reading:
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:23-35
The following thoughts are mine, and not from the Huddersfield service, the sermon there was short because of a baptism at the service. The sermon from that service may appear here.
Getting the debts into context, a talent was about 20 years wages for a labourer and a denarius was a days wage for a labourer. So the first servant owed 200,000 years’ wages, and the second owed 17 to 20 weeks wages, which is still a substantial amount, but nothing compared to how much the first servant owed. (Figures based on a footnote in the ESV.)
In the story the first servant was forgiven an enormous debt. The amount was unthinkable, it would have taken many, many lifetimes to pay it back. The chosen figure is deliberately large. There is no way the first servant could have payed back nearly 3 billion pounds on a servant’s income. The figure is that high to illustrate how great, how extravagant God’s love and forgiveness is.
Like the King in the story, God’s forgiveness is generous in the extreme. We are forgiven more, many many times more than we can atone for on our own, but Jesus, through his death, has paid the full price for everyone everywhere. There is nothing to pay, through Jesus Christ all are fully forgiven.
Isn’t God’s love wonderful.
But there are two slaves in the story. The second slave also had a debt, to the first slave. In today’s money about £5,000. This is a substantial amount, one which you would not expect a servant to be able to get immediately. But it is still am amount that he could be expected to pay given enough time.
If the king in the story represents God, the first servant represents us who have been forgiven. God’s forgiveness is awesome in its scope. What we are required to do is to pass it on, but at a scale that is feasible.
God is not asking us to forgive the impossible, that’s his job alone.
In the last blog I promised to say something about how to forgive on this blog. But that was before this Sunday’s service. That is now on the next blog.