Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Have you ever struggled to grasp a concept in school? Maybe you did not understand a math equation or a scientific theory until a teacher explained it to you in a new way. Teachers are great at reframing confusing concepts into practical lessons and stories that help us make sense of what we are learning. Jesus was particularly good at this and He used parables, short stories, to explain His teachings in a way that made sense to His disciples.
The disciples were struggling to grasp the idea of forgiveness. Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive someone?” to which Jesus responded, “Seventy times seven.” That seems like a lot and undoubtedly Peter was still confused by such a large number. Jesus used this opportunity to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant in order to help Peter understand.
One day, the king decided to review his spending and make sure all his expenses were in order. He realized that one of his servants still owed him a large sum of money so he brought the servant in and told him that if he couldn’t pay his debt, he would have to sell everything he owned. The servant begged for a second chance and the king graciously forgave his debt. But immediately after he was released, the servant came across a fellow servant who owed him money. When that servant begged for a second chance, he was thrown into prison. The king was outraged to hear that the forgiveness he granted the servant had not been passed on.
In this story, the king represents Jesus who has forgiven us for far more than we could ever imagine. Yet we are so slow to forgive others when they do us wrong. Through this parable, Jesus reminds us that because He has forgiven our sins, we are to do the same to those around us and need to consistently exhibit an attitude of forgiveness.
Questions to think about:
- What is something Jesus has forgiven you for?
- Why is it hard for you to show that same forgiveness?
- Who is someone you need to forgive?