The Forgiven Debt

17.11.2019

 

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.
Matthew 18:26-27

The parable of the merciless (debtor) creditor speaks of a missed opportunity and invites us to reflect on what it means to forgive and how far forgiveness can reach. Jesus had just answered the hesitant Peter who had asked him: "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how many times will I have to forgive him? Up to seven times? " Resistance to sin is closely linked to the wrong suffered. And the most available seems to go to a fairly large extent: seven times. But the Master's directions disappoint and go beyond our measure: "I do not tell you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven". How is it possible? Here then is the parable that we know well. A king who calls his servants to close the accounts, and among these comes one with an abnormal debt of ten thousand talents. It is certainly a hyperbole to leave a mark on the listeners. In the Greek language ten thousand the largest number and talent the largest measure.

1 talent = 80 pounds of precious metal
1 talent = 6,000 working days
10 thousand talents = 60 million daily salaries

To pay this debt the servant would have to work 200 thousand years. Here then is an IMPOSSIBLE debt to pay. The solution (however not definitive) would have led the servant, his wife and children to prison. Their possessions, their property expropriated and sold. How to get out of it? A condition that represents the state of every sinner before the sanctity and justice of the King of heaven. The servant of the parable does not give up, does not contemplate that the end has arrived, and takes the path of piety. He throws himself on the ground, prostrates himself at his lord's feet and asks for time and opportunity. He promises to commit himself to paying for everything, although the calculations have already told us that he was in no way human possible.

Jesus opens an unexpected and inconceivable scenario according to human justice. The king is moved with compassion. The attitude of humiliation and, at the same time, of the servant's willing commitment induce him to an act of grace and mercy: he lets him go free and clears his debt. Divine grace goes beyond the standard of human justice and shows how it is POSSIBLE to forgive. Condemned by our sin, Jesus atoned for our sins, acquiring our freedom and freeing us from all weight. But ... there is always a "but" to tell us that what happens requires a change and if that doesn't happen then the story changes. In fact, the servant has just come out when he encounters a preserver who owes him a hundred denarii (100 daily wages): very little compared to the sixty million denarii that had just been forgiven. His eyes suddenly lose the light of joy and fill with anger. The other shouts and makes his own prayer: "Have patience with me, and I will pay you". We would all have expected an act of grace, but it does not happen. The two made the same prayer, but with different results. Forgiveness should always bring about change, but our debtor has a wrong reaction as a creditor. For some, forgiveness is burning coals on their heads because they cannot accept it. His reaction will cost him dearly and that is why the Gospel exhorts us "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" 6:14-15 NKJV). Let us reflect ...

 


Devotional 47/2019
Weekly Bible reading plan

November 18 Ezekiel 8-10; Hebrews13
November 19, Ezekiel 11-13; James 1
November 20, Ezekiel 14-15; James 2
November 21, Ezekiel 16-17; James 3
November 22, Ezekiel 18-19; James 4
November 23, Ezekiel 20-21; James 5
November 24, Ezekiel 22-23; 1 Peter
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