Last Wednesday, we studied a few more chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, but we spent more time discussing the importance of forgiveness in the light of the parable that Jesus taught the disciples in chapter 18. “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” (Matthew 18:21–22).
After Jesus gave Peter this response about forgiving our brother up to seventy times seven, He tells a parable about a king that that forgave a slave a huge sum, and what that slave did after he was forgiven. If we don’t take some time to look more closely at this parable, we may miss the importance of forgiving others in our lives.
In the parable, there are two different currencies, one is called a talent, and the second is called a denarius. The first slave in the story owed the king 10,000 talents. A second slave owed the first slave one hundred denarii. What is important to notice, is that one denarius was a normal day’s wages for a laborer (Matthew 20:10), and a talent amounted to 6,000 denarii, or 6,000 days wages. In other words, the first slave was forgiven a total of 60,000,000 denarii but refused to forgive only one hundred denarii.
The lesson of the parable is that the first slave would never, not even in many lifetimes, be able to pay back what he owed to the king. This is what salvation means, we have been forgiven and our debt was paid at the cross by the blood of Christ (Colossians 2:13-14), otherwise we would have to live throughout eternity without being reconciled to God. The problem is that the king in the parable heard that the first slave refused to forgive his fellow slave only a very small amount when compared to how much the king had forgiven him.
““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”” (Matthew 18:32–35).