A reading and reflection on Matthew 18:21-36
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,’ he begged, `and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. 28 “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. 29 “His fellow-servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. 32 “Then the master called the servant in. `You wicked servant,’ he said, `I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow-servant just as I had on you?’
34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
Forgiveness is based not on other people’s worthiness to receive it, but on the basis of God’s forgiveness of our insurmountable debt.
Our debt against God is unpayable by us, it is beyond imagination – but that debt in Christ is cancelled for those who trust in Him. He has paid for it all. Completely, finally, and forever.
We do not understand fully the forgiveness we have received by God Most High if we fail to forgive others who sin against us – at times in extremely horrible ways. Either we have failed to grasp the magnitude of our debt against God that has been forgiven, or we have failed to have ever experienced His forgiveness.
We, I, must look to the forgiveness I have received by God the Father through the Son to be able to (by the power of the Spirit) forgive and forgive and forgive just as God in Christ forgive me.