A Parable About Forgiveness

Text: Matthew 18:23-35

Peter asked Jesus a question about forgiving his brother (Matthew 18:21-22). After answering, Jesus used a parable to explain the answer. We must forgive because we have been forgiven. There are several lessons to be learned from this parable.

The King (v. 23)

  • The kingdom of heaven is a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36) – its king is Jesus (John 18:37; 5:22)
  • Settling accounts with his slaves (servants, KJV) – we are expected to obey Him (Matthew 28:18-20), though this does not earn us anything (Luke 17:10)
  • Parallel to judgment – we will be called to give an account for what we have done (2 Corinthians 5:10)

The Ten Thousand Talent Debt (v. 24-27)

  • The parable is about forgiveness – the “debt” represents the sin against the king, Jesus (cf. Matthew 6:12)
  • Why is sin called “debt” here? … when we sin, we withhold from God what is due Him (Malachi 3:8; Romans 12:1); cannot be undone
  • Ten thousand talents – represents an amount that could never be repaid
  • When it comes to sins, we cannot make up for them ourselves (Romans 3:23; 6:23) – we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8), through God’s mercy (Titus 3:5)
  • Some believe that Jesus “paid” our “sin debt” on the cross, though this is not correct – the concept is that of Jesus taking the punishment for our sins; He did not
  • In the parable, the debt was forgiven, not paid – not even by one standing in place of the debtor
  • Jesus’ blood washes away our sins (Hebrews 9:14,22) – when we meet the conditions of grace (Acts 22:16)

The One Hundred Denarii Debt (v. 28-30)

  • The forgiven slave went out and found another slave who owed him money – the debt was not nearly what he owed the king, but was still a substantial amount
  • The other slave pled for mercy, just as the forgiven slave did before the king – but no mercy was shown
  • The forgiven slave did not learn a lesson from his dealings with the king

The King’s Anger (v. 31-35)

  • Word got back to the king about how the forgiven slave refused to forgive his fellow slave – the king became angry and punished the previously forgiven slave
  • God’s willingness to forgive us depends on our willingness to forgive others (v. 35; Matthew 6:12,14-15)
  • This again shows that forgiveness was not based upon a debt being repaid by someone else – if the ten thousand talent debt was paid, it would be unjust for the king to still require it (v. 34)
  • Our sins are washed away in baptism (Acts 22:16) – but we could still be lost (Hebrews 4:11)

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