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August 23, 2020 7:00 pm
Turning to Matthew chapter 18 as I read your hearing, the parable of the unforgiving servant begins in verse 28 of Matthew 18. This is the 20th sermon in this series on the parables of Jesus Matthew chapter 18 beginning at verse 21 then Peter came to him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him up to seven times. Jesus said to him I do not say to you, up to seven times but up to 70×7.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servant, and when he had begun to settle accounts. One was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents. But as he was not able to pay his master commanded that he be sold with his wife and children and all that he had and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, master, have patience with me and I will pay you all. Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion released him and forgave him the debt.
But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him 100 an area and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, pay me what you owe.
So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, have patience with me and I will pay you all and he would not, but went and threw him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellow servants saw what had been done.
They were very grieved and came and told their master. All that had been done then his master after he had called him, said to him you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you and his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly father also will do to you if each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother's trespasses.
This parable was given by Jesus. Toward the end of his earthly ministry.
Peter is been in the school of Christ, and he has learned a lot just a couple of chapters earlier.
There was that occasion at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus asked Peter and the others who do men say that I am some say your John the Baptist. Some say you're Elijah said, but who do you say that I am Peter said, thou art the Christ, the son of the living God and Jesus commended him. He said flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father which is in heaven. Unfortunately doesn't stop her, because the text tells us that from that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day, then Peter yes that Saint Peter who made that astounding confession took him.
That is, took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, far be it from you, Lord. This shall not happen to you, but he turned and said to Peter, get behind me Satan you are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God but the things of men. While so Peter is a man who has known great heights and he has known great lows will know even greater lows in the future like forced to consider. First, peters question about forgiveness peters question about forgiveness as of already said Peter is walk with Jesus been in the school of Christ is learning is heard Jesus teach on many subjects and on forgiveness as well and he's also heard the rabbis talk and discuss among themselves stent of forgiveness that is owed to other people.
So Peter asks this question in verse 21 then Peter came to him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him up to seven times. Now the question is worth consideration. We will consider. But I want to stop and ask this question. What provoked Peter asking the question, why is this on his mind, and I think there to answers to that of the first is the context in which their living life.
Jesus has just taught about forgiveness in verse 15 of the same chapter just six or seven verses prior to Peter asking the question Matthew records verse 15 moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone and if he hears you, you have gained your brother goes on and gives instructions concerning how to deal with ascending brother take witness and take two witnesses, and if he doesn't hear you bring it to the church so the whole subject of forgiveness is fresh on Peter's mind. It's a natural question for him to ask, given what Jesus has been teaching on, but the fact that Peter would ask the question and then answer is question with another question leads us in another direction. Again, Peter came to him, that is Jesus, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him question and then another question up to seven times up to seven times and I think it's that second question that alludes to the rabbinical teaching that Peter had been hearing and perhaps had been discussed among them. What is that, well, it was common teaching among rabbis that there was an obligation to forgive. After the first offense after the second offense after the third offense, but at the fence.
Your obligation to forgive is over and here Peter is mindful of that. So he is asking Jesus if I don't just forgive three times that if I forgive seven times.
That's two times more than the Jewish rabbis are instructing according to their understanding of the law and I think he was hoping to get a word of commendation from Jesus.
What does Jesus say peters question.
What was that does forgiveness have limitations.
I was peters question, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him up to seven times. Does forgiveness have limitations. What is Jesus's answer to the question Jesus said to him I do not say to you, up to seven times but up to 70×7. No, I love math. I gravitate to map I like numbers. It's easy to do that. It's 490 Jesus saying okay here are the limits is not seven times.
As for hundred and 90. Is that what Jesus is saying no is not what Jesus is saying point Jesus is making is the forgiveness of others should be unlimited, unlimited should be no limits upon our willingness to forgive others. That isn't the only thing Jesus has to say about he gives that answer, but then beginning in verse 23 and running through verse 34 is the parable of the unforgiving servant in that parable that Jesus gives is a illustration to the answer to an answer to this question.
Notice again peters question in verse 21 Jesus's answer in verse 22.
I do not say to you, up to seven times but up to 70×7 verse 23 therefore the kingdom of heaven is like here is the parable kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. Now this whole business of wanting to know where the lines are what is the extent of the law. What are what are the parameters that I might not transgress those limits that I might know where they are. Jesus is instructing here that we were not bound by law, bound by his spirit and the spirit of genuine forgiveness recognizes no boundaries or limits. It is a state of a heart not a matter of a calculation in one might as well ask how often must I love my wife, my husband and my children as to ask how often should I see Peter was thinking in the measurable and limited terms of law, not the immeasurable and unlimited terms of grace, law keeps count grace does not. Jesus had taught in other places. We have recorded in Luke chapter 17 in verse four, even if our brother sins against you seven times in a day and returns to you seven times saying, I repent, you are under obligation to forgive him. That's what Jesus taught. Luke chapter 17 to back to the parable. The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants so there are not just a servant but servants to this king in this kingdom, and there is an accounting that is to be anticipated and expected.
The question is, how could a man possibly in get it get a dead accused of crude to this degree.
10,000 talents say well how large of a debt is that well it's astronomical. It's almost beyond calculation.
Let me give you a couple of things to as a point of reference point of comparison from historical documents. The total annual revenue collected by the Roman government from Judea, Samaria and Galilee was about 900 talents.
So based on those figures 10,000 talents amounted to about 11 years of taxes from those three provinces get an idea how large a debt Jesus is suggesting here in first Kings chapter 10 in verse 14 were told that the weight of gold, which came into Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold were talking here about a debt of 10,000 talents. And here's the point.
Just as 70×7 represents a limitless number of time 10,000 talents represents a limitless amount of money that's the point that Jesus is making the man owed the king 10,000 talents. He owed an incalculable and unpayable debt.
You couldn't calculated it was unpayable by the way, that represents the debt of sin that every man is and has earned, and he owes to God because sin creates debt. The wages of sin is death, Romans chapter 3 and the debt that man to accumulates because of the sin is beyond his ability to pay PO's got a debt he could never pay the glorious news of the gospel is the Jesus came and paid a debt he did not owe that we might be forgiven no it's like trying think about the scenario. It would appear that here's a man who was in the business of tax collecting that he was responsible over a certain province or a certain region. It was his responsibility to to collect taxes for the king and the time of accounting has come is called in to give an account and the man is in debt 10,000 talents while, when he began to settle accounts. One was brought to him who owed 10,000 talents. Verse 25 but as he was not able to pay.
Yeah that's right, he was not able to play his master commanded that he be sold with his wife and children and all that he had and that payment be made.
Not sure how that was going to happen. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, master, have patience with me and I will repay you all.
Now there's no way you had any ability to pay it all, but that's what he begs of the master know he doesn't deny videos.
This huge amount. Neither does he tried to explain how he got into this terrible predicament. He offers no excuses, which is good is not good that he's in that kind of death. But that's good that he makes no excuses. We need to keep our our mind on the particulars of the parable, but also understand how it relates to our lives.
This is what God does with the sin debt of those who come to him and humble and sincere repentance. He does what the servant does for this man. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, master, have patience with me and I will repay you all them the master of that servant was moved with compassion released him and forgave him the debt is what God is done for us as we come to him and beg mercy of acknowledging that we owe a debt to him.
We could never pay. We stand condemned because of our dead and that the only recourse we have before.
In her right mind is to cast ourselves upon the mercy of the king and begged for his mercy. So the story depicts a man with an unpayable debt who sought mercy and was given abundantly good news of the gospel is at the moment a person acknowledges the sinfulness of his sin in terms to the only Savior from sin.
His mountain of debt to God is paid in forever. While it's amazing. But the story turns takes a turn here and always watch as your reading your Bible words that turn therefore but then here is one of those word notice verse 28 only reversed 27 so you see the contrast then the master of that servant was moved with compassion released him and forgave him the debt.
But 28 that servant went out and found one of his fellow servant who owed him 100 the Neri AI and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, pay me what you owe. The implication in the parable is that the first thing this forgiven's servant did the left.
The king's presence was to go search for a fellow slave and again. Probably somebody who was responsible to him in the collecting of taxes and he owed him a very very small amount compared to the debt that he owed to the king.
So what does he do what is it say he took him by the throat, saying, pay me what you owe.
So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, have patience with me and I will pay you all. What is that sound like those of the very same words that the this servant had spoken before the king and you would think hearing those words in his hearing would have been a rebuke to him and would've arrested him concerning his attitude toward this man. But it doesn't have patience with me and I will pay you all and he was not but went and threw him into prison, until he should pay the debt now stop and think about this from the second debt.
It was extremely small by comparison to the first.
However, it was a real debt and it represented a real offense committed by one believer against another. These were fellow servants.
I don't want to get too far away from the church context that made up the end of chapter made up chapter 18 prior to this parable that Jesus gives so there is a real offense that has been committed. Some of us have sinned previously against some other some other person preps I wife her husband or children, or another man or somebody in the church and that isn't to be dismissed, and if you are on the receiving end of sin.
This been committed against you.
You feel that you have a sense of dread under obligation to forgive but is not easy to forget how dare him.
He did this she did that and we need this kind of instruction because we need reminded of the great debt that God has forgiven us that we could've never paid in 100 years.
And because we have received mercy, we have an obligation to extend and if we don't, there are some serious implications about an serious consequences.
Now you would've thought that this man's first inclination as he left the presence of the king.
Haven't been forgiven a great debt was defined a fellow servant who owed him money that he might extend mercy to him and might be gracious to him. That's what you would think.
But that's not what he does. This man could not pay back what he owed, even though it was a small amount because he was notice what he says he was not, but went and threw him into prison, till he should pay the debt again. My question is, how you gonna earn any money to pay back a debt in prison. Here's the point Jesus is making those who have been graciously forgiven by God for their immeasurable sins against him are to act like the divine children. They have become by reflecting the love and compassion of their heavenly father. And here is our model.
Here are our instructions as in Ephesians 4, verse 32 were to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, how for what one what motivation, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven us. That's the extent of our forgiveness. That's the example of our forgiveness. That's the motivation for our forgiveness is what Jesus is teaching here in verse 31 says so when his fellow servants saw what had been done.
They were very grieved. They were very grieved in my question is, they were very grieved home for home with a very grieved.
Why think they were grieved first for the king whose example of been treated with such contempt that was no reciprocal response to the grace and mercy that had been extended so they were grieved because of that, and they were also grieved for their fellow servant whose plea fell on deaf ears and was put in prison.
So what is fellow servants saw what had been done.
They were very grieved and came and told their master. All that had been done then his master after he called him, said to him you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you. Should you not means was this not your obligation. It was this man's duty to be number one filled with gratitude for the debt that he'd been forgiven and he should have been filled with mercy to extended to others, but he was neither. He was neither should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you.
His master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due him, and at that point the parables over.
But Jesus is done we had one final disturbing word to say what is it it's in verse 35 so my heavenly father also will do to you if each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother's trespasses. I say that's troubling is troubling for number of reasons is troubling because it seems to imply a works salvation. That is if you forgive others. You will then be forgiven and that seems to be completely contrary to the doctrine of justification by faith. And it also seems to imply that continuation in grace is by the means of works, we may be saved by grace. But if we fail to act in an upright manner that is extending forgiveness when were obligated to do it.
God may cancel his forgiveness. We may lose our salvation and be thrown into hell.
Anyway, just as the king had this wicked servant. This wicked servant jail so that can't be true. So how do we reconcile this.
How do we understand this right and as I've studied and read various commentators I've across a number of attempts to deal with this.
So let me mention these various things of come across and then bring it to the place where I think is a proper biblical understanding. One commentator believes that Jesus did not mean what he said.
The minute I hear that my antenna goes up this school of thought, regards the parable is simple hyperbole is an exaggerated statement for effect. According to those who think along these lines, Jesus did not mean to say that God would send us to hell if we do not forgive our debtors but only that forgiveness is an extremely important matter and that we ought to really be forgiving.
We should forgive others just as God is already forgiven us.
But if we do not does not mean were not say that we will lose our salvation.
Jesus is just talking and hyperbole is an exaggeration.
He doesn't really doesn't really mean what it seems to me was not very satisfactory to me.
A second way of trying to escape Christ's words is by applying them to someone else. According to this view, Jesus. Obviously obviously meant what he said but his words do not apply to people living in the new covenant age. The Jesus's teaching was true for Jews living under the law, but it's not true for us where justified by faith apart from works God's forgiveness does not depend in any measure on our forgiveness of others and is in fact not link to it all. These people think along these lines would tell us the third approach in even far far less satisfactory, but one it's very, very common in our day and it's the approach of liberalism instead of trying to get off the hook. There these people that come to the text actually delight in what they read. This is how they think, they say, here we are finally getting to the heart of that beautiful and simple gospel that Jesus actually taught is not teaching the doctrine of justification by faith in a so-called work of atonement, this is merely that beautiful teaching of doing to others as we would want others to do to us.
We want God to forgive us, so we should want to forgive others.
And since God does not forgive us. We should understand Christ to be saying that the essence of religion is in God and God's being nice to us and are being nice to others. He's the forgiving father of all, and since he is, we ought to treat all men as brother again. That's the position of liberalism and and it's not satisfactory at all. Jesus is saying that if we do not forgive others, God is going to send us to hell. That's not the gospel of liberalism. That's the clear reading of the text verse 35. So my heavenly father also will duty you from will do to each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother's trespasses. So where do we go with this well first thing I need to say is we need to recognize that in this one story. Jesus is not giving the whole of biblical theology. What he says is true enough. Namely, that there is an unbreakable connection between God's forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of other people. That's clear.
In the parable, it does not mean that we are saved by forgiving others or that salvation once acquired can be lost Bible doesn't teach that although we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law. This is what I believe this is where were going where Howard understands. Although we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law being justified is not the only thing that happens to us in salvation.
In fact, is not the first thing justification is by faith, so faith at least comes before justification on me take you back to what Jesus said to Nicodemus, Jesus said, unless you be born again, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. That is, regeneration or the new birth must come before entering or before believing that means that no one believes on Christ and is justified who has not already been given a new nature, namely the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, that is God's own forgiving nature. So, although the nature does not manifest itself all at once. If we are justified, we will have the nature of God that will increasing and inevitably express itself in forgiveness, just as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us. Faith alone saves, but saving faith is never alone. The evidence of true saving faith is in the works that we do the fruit that we produce in our life. So here's the conclusion. The conclusion is if we do not forgive, we are not forgiven. We are not justified.
We are not right with God.
We are not God's children, regardless of what profession we might make you see that's that is tied with what Jesus had said earlier about if your brother sins against you, go to him and what is the pattern you go to him one on one, you take one person with you.
You take a second person with you, you bring it before the church and this man will demonstrate that he is a believer. He is a true Christian. If indeed he repents. But if he does not repent, you draw the conclusion that he's nothing but a professor not a possessor in the that's the same application here, we demonstrate we prove that we are one of God's. When we act according with the new nature that is been given to us in salvation.
The parable makes three points. First, there is a judgment coming. Jesus did not pass over that teaching.
He spoke of forgiveness.
But he also spoke clearly of what happened to the wretched man in his story. He was cast into prison until he should pay back all he owed, and that judgment hangs over everyone who has not experienced God's forgiveness in Christ there is an accounting. There is a day of reckoning. There is a judgment. It is appointed on the man once to die, and after this the judgment. So the first thing the parable teaches is that there is a judgment coming. Secondly, there is forgiveness hallelujah for that.
There is forgiveness. God does forgive God sent Jesus to be the basis for that forgiveness. Forgiveness comes at great cost but there is forgiveness in Christ are you glad for that tonight. I trust that you are there is judgment coming. There is forgiveness and third the only sure proof of a person's having received God's forgiveness through true faith in Jesus is a heart that's been transformed in chain and is evidenced in a willingness to forgive others it's a very, very dangerous posture to assume and hold onto an unforgiving heart and unforgiving spirit. You're showing evidence that you not belong to God. What can I say that because that the very nature of God that comes to us in salvation is eight nature of forgiveness that I'm not saying that forgiveness will be easy to be times it it will be incredibly difficult to extend forgiveness. But if we have the nature of God. We will demonstrate will show it. How do we get this theology down to where we live, how do we connect theology with practical living.
I believe it starts by standing assuming our posture is standing before the holy God and seeing ourselves as God sees us as sinners. Hell deserving sinners, forgiven sinners, but deserving of God's just wrath and condemnation and the only reason were not condemned. The only reason were not cast off is that Jesus stood in our place. That's where we have to start in that awareness should humble us so that we have simply no other option but to be forgiving toward others from our hearts. That's what it will take. May God help us as we think about these things. Here's a him that I'd like to read to you and inclusion Agusta. Stop lady wrote a debtor to mercy alone.
You see, that's what we are were debtors to mercy alone a debtor to mercy alone of covenant mercy I saying nor fear with my righteousness on my person and offering to bring the terrors of law and of God with me and have nothing to do. My Savior's obedience and blood hide all my transgression. The work which is goodness began the arm of his strength will complete his promises.
Yea and amen and never was forfeited yet. Things future, nor things that are now not all things below or above can make him his purpose for go or sever my soul from his love my name from the palms of his hands.
Eternity with a naughty race impressed on his heart. It remains in marks of indelible yes I to the end shall endure as sure as the artist is given more happy but not more secure.
The glorified spirits in heaven, shall we pray.
Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you that it is searching that it is sharp and cutting that it instructs us in righteousness it rebukes it corrects Lord. May the spirit of God. Take the word of God and apply it to our lives. As you know our needs now. May he who has rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son fill you with all knowledge so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, a man