SCRIPTURE: Matthew 18:21-35, The Message
Jesus has just finished the lesson in conflict management we considered last Sunday:
21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a [person], who hurts me? Seven?”
22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven. [or seventy seven]
23-25 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars.* He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
26-27 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
28 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars.* He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
29-31 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But [the first servant] wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
32-35 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt.
And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven [could do] to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
*But who’s counting?