Free Bible Commentary
“Matthew 18:21-35”Categories: 50 Days with Jesus
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘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 seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.” And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, “Pay back what you owe.” So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.’”
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How often should we forgive a brother who sins against us? Well, how often do we want God to forgive us? I think the universal answer to that question is, “Every time!” Every time we sin and we ask God to forgive us, He promises to do so if we “repent”, or “turn from” that sin (Luke 17:3-4; 2 Corinthians 7:10). But one of the conditions He places upon providing forgiveness to us, is that we willingly forgive the sins of other people (Matthew 6:14-15).
Verse 27 really reveals the forgiving nature of our merciful God, in the person of the king in the parable. “The Lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.” Our Father in heaven has a heart full of compassion toward the people that He created and loves. But the compassion of God is more than just a feeling. More than just feeling sorry or pity for us, God has mercy on us. Mercy is doing something to help a person who has found or placed himself in a pitiable condition.
When we repent and are baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38), God forgives us and releases us from the unpayable debt that we owe Him. And any subsequent sin that we commit and repent of, God wipes the slate clean for that as well. Jesus tells us in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.” God is actively, frequently and selflessly merciful. God’s children need to work hard at trying to imitate His loving, merciful, forgiving nature (Ephesus 5:1).
What effect did the mercy and forgiveness extended to the servant with the mountain of debt have on him? If it had any effect at all it was negative. When his fellow servant, who owed a pittance in comparison, asked him for mercy; he grabbed him by the throat, threatened him, and had him thrown into prison (verses 28-30). It is amazing how soon the unmerciful servant forgot that he had just recently walked in the shoes of his fellow servant. It’s not always easy to forgive someone who has done us wrong. That is especially true when we really thought the world of that person. Let’s just remember that God has forgiven us a million times more than we could ever be expected to forgive someone else.
“My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (verse 35). True forgiveness comes from the heart. Sometimes we may say we forgive someone, and even restore a person to an active place of participation in our lives; but we still bear resentment and animosity for them in our heart. A heart loaded down with anger and bitterness is not a forgiving or happy heart. It is in our best interest to try to let go of our grudges and forgive people from the heart, even if they don’t repent and ask us for forgiveness. Even though we don’t “owe” forgiveness to them, we will still free ourselves of the crippling burden of bitterness.
James 2:13 – “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Please read Luke 10:25-37 for tomorrow – Jesus teaches about mercy.
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!