The Parable about
the Unforgiving Servant

Matthew 18:21-35

Service Notes
Sermon by Rev. John Reinke

MATTHEW 18:21-35
    21.  Then PETER came to Jesus and asked HIM, "Lord, how often must I forgive my brother sinning against me?  Seven times forgiving?"
    22.  Jesus told him, "I tell you, not seven times forgiving, but seventy multiplied by seven that happens, you forgive.
    23.  That is the reason the kingdom of heaven is the same-as a king wanting to count the debts of his servants.
    24.  When the king began counting, one servant came with a debt of $20-Million.  (10,000 talents)
    25.  But the servant had nothing to pay that debt.  Now the king ordered that servant, his wife, his children, and all his things sold to pay the debt.
    26.  Then the servant knelt and bowed-down in-front-of the king and begged, 'Please be patient with me, and I will pay you everything.'
    27.  The king felt pity for the servant, freed him, and cancelled his debt.
    28.  But when the servant was-leaving, he saw another servant owing him $200; he grabbed-his-neck and shook him saying, 'Pay all you owe me.'
    29.  Then the second servant knelt and begged him, 'Please be patient with me, and I will pay you.'
    30.  But the first servant refused and put him in jail until he paid all his debt.
    31.  When all the other servants saw everything happen, they felt sad.  And they came and told the king all the things.
    32.  Then the king called the first servant and said, 'You bad servant. I forgave all your debt, because you asked me.
    33.  I showed mercy to you; now you have the duty to show mercy to your friend servant the same-as I showed mercy to you, correct?'
    34.  And the king became angry and gave that bad servant to the jail keepers until he paid his full debt.
    35.  The same MY father in heaven will do to you, if you will not from your hearts forgive your brother."

The King =

The Servant = 

The Servant's Debt = 

Other Servants = 

Application to me:

Then PETER came to Jesus and asked HIM, "Lord, how often must I forgive my brother sinning against me?  Seven times forgiving?"

Jesus told him, "I tell you, not seven times forgiving, but seventy multiplied by seven that happens, you forgive."
(Matthew 18:21-22)

Ok... We can do the math here:

    x   7

So that's our limit, right? 
If we forgive someone 140 times,
    after that, no more forgiving.

Wrong!  Why?  Because if someone does wrong to us,
    and we put that on our mental list,
    that proves we haven't-yet forgiven him.

[Many years ago, I went to a small town that had very few deaf people, to have a monthly worship service for them. One of the deaf folk was a sweet old lady in an assisted living apartment.  Every time I visited her, she told me stories about bad things another deaf friend in that town did to hurt her.  After 45 minutes, she always ended her complaint with the same sentence:  "But I just forget about it."]

If we are keeping a count,
    then we haven't-yet learned what forgiveness means.

Jesus answers Peter's concern by telling him this powerful story.

Notice that Jesus doesn't explain to Peter
    HOW we should forgive.

Instead, Jesus' story explains
    WHY we should forgive.

The King           = God
The Servant      = Us
Servant's debt  = Our sin against God
Other Servants = Other people who do wrong to us.

Remember what we say every time we pray the Lord's Prayer:
    Forgive us our sins, as we forgive people who sin against us.

Every week we tell God:
    Please forgive me the same way I forgive other people.

If we look back at Peter's question:
    How many times must I forgive someone
        who sins against me?

Peter, how many times do you want God to forgive you???

How often do I want God to forgive ME?  No limit!

God wants us to have that attitude same as Him.

When Jesus taught the Lord's Prayer in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 6, He emphasized this point:

"If you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:15)

How many times have you seen angry people say:
    "I can't forgive him!"

Maybe you yourself feel that way about someone.
    "I can't forgive him!"
    "I can't forgive her!"

Why do we expect God to forgive us,
    when we can't forgive another person?

Do we think that we are more holy than God?
No, that's not it.

We think that our offense against God is small,
    so He can easily forgive us.
The person who hurt me, his offense against me is worse.

No, that's not true.

What did my friend do to hurt me?

"He lied about me!"
    So... I ALWAYS tell the truth?

"He stole from me!"
    Stole what? 
        THINGS that I will never be able to keep.
        Things that really belong to God, not to me.
    And I never mis-use God's gifts?

"I trusted him and he betrayed me!"
    And I never said or did anything to hurt Christ?

"He abused me!" or
"He killed someone I love!"
    And my sin nailed Jesus to the cross.
    His response was what?
    "Father, forgive them."  (Luke 23:34)

We foolishly believe that God is eager to forgive us
    because we are better than other people.

That's our viewpoint,
    but that's not His viewpoint.

The Bible says,
We love because God first loved us. 
If people say, “I love God,” but hate their brothers or sisters,
    they are liars.
How can you love God, when you can't see Him,
    but you don't love people that you can see?  (1 John 4:19-20)

Ok, we know that we SHOULD forgive,
    but HOW...?

Forgiving is not something that we naturally do.
We need God's help.
We can't do it ourselves.

That verse I just read explains:
We love because God first loved us

When we can't forgive,
    Jesus can forgive through us.

HOW we forgive -- that varies,
    depending on each situation.
1.  The offender sincerely apologizes
2.  The offender is gone -- reconciliation is not possible
3.  The offender is unrepentant.

For example...
If the person that hurt us,
    he admits that he did wrong,
    he is truly sorry,
    he asks us to forgive him.

If you have Christ's love in you,
    you have joy because you can have fellowship
        with that person again.
You can both push the past behind you.

I am not saying that forgiving will be easy,
    but you know that you should and can do it
        with Christ's help.

But if the person who hurt you is gone, or dead.
    You can never again discuss with that person.

How do you forgive that person?

Or worse:
The person who hurt you is stubborn in his sinful way.
    He is not sorry.
    If you gave him the opportunity,
        he will hurt you again.

Should we forgive people like that?

Again, Christ is our example.
What was His first prayer on the cross?
    "Father, forgive them,
        because they don't know what they are doing."

The Bible says:
But God shows His love for us in this:
    While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were His enemies,
    God made us His friends through the death of His Son. (Romans 5:8 & 10)

So, how do we forgive people who can't apologize,
    or won't apologize?

First, we release that person and all that he did
    into God's hands.

Christ died for that sinner, the same as Christ died for us.
    So now Christ is responsible, not us.

Second, we ask God to show us the benefits
    that we received because of that person's
        sinful actions against us.


Look-at Joseph and his attitude.

Some of his brothers jealous and they wanted to kill him.
But then they had a better idea: 
    Sell Joseph to slave traders going to Egypt.
"Goodbye!  No more Joseph!"

Joseph was about 17 years old when we became a slave.
Then someone falsely accused him, and that sent him to prison.

What benefits did Joseph receive from all that???

First, he learned how to pray and trust God.

When he was a kid, his father tried to teach him,
    but now, his suffering tested his faith.
Now he must really pray!

Second, slavery and prison forced Joseph to change
    from a spoiled kid
    to learning how to work and accept responsibility.

Third, when the King of Egypt made Joseph his Prime Minister,
    the King's chief manager,
God gave Joseph wisdom and skills
    for saving the lives of many thousand people
        including his own family.

When Joseph's hungry brothers came to Egypt to buy food,
    he had the opportunity to get-even, and take revenge.

But he had already forgiven them,
    long before they knew that now Joseph was their master.

When they finally saw that the Egyptian ruler was their brother
    that they sold into slavery, they were afraid.

More than once Joseph calmed them:

Don't be afraid.
You didn't send me to Egypt, God did.
You planned evil against me,
    but God changed that into good,
to save the lives of many people.  (Genesis 45:5-8; 50:20)

When people do bad things that hurt us, God knows.

Through those experiences
    He wants us to grow in faith and character,
        as Joseph did.

Through those experiences
    He wants us to learn skills that we won't learn any other way.

If the person that hurt us is sorry or not -- that doesn't matter.
    That is not our responsibility.

We can release them to God and say,
"You planned evil against me,
    but God changed that into good."


We pray:
Lord Jesus, help us to forgive,
    as you have already forgiven us.

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