I couldn’t contain myself. “That’s fine the first time, but how many times do we need to forgive someone? Five times? Six times? Seven times? Won’t they just keep taking advantage of us if we keep forgiving them?”
Jesus looked at me and said, “Let me tell you a story. Suppose a man owed a rich man an unimaginable sum of money, let’s call it ten thousand talents.”
“Ten thousand talents, that’s crazy, nobody would ever loan someone ten thousand talents.”
“It’s just a story Peter, so bear with me.”
“One day, the rich man decided it was time to put his house in order. When he remembered the debt this man owed, he demanded payment in full. But no surprise, the man couldn’t pay the debt. So, the rich man did what he was entitled to do, he demanded that everything the man owned should be sold to satisfy the debt. And because that still wouldn’t be enough, the debtor and his entire family were to be sold into slavery.
“Do you think the rich man was within his rights?”
Across the crowd you could see people nodding. Of course he was within his rights, everyone knew what happened when you couldn’t pay your debts.
“The man who owed the debt was devastated, and he begged the rich man to give him more time to pay what he owed. But that was impossible, remember it was ten thousand talents.
“Well, the rich man decided to have mercy on the man and his family and forgave the entire debt.”
Judas interrupted. “But why? Why would he do that?”
Jesus just smiled. “Because he could. That’s how your Heavenly Father will treat you. Each of you has sinned against God, in big ways and small ways, and there isn’t anything you can do to make that right. But when we acknowledge the reality of what we’ve done and ask God to forgive us, he will. Not because he has to, but because he wants to.”
The people in the crowed nodded as they got it. God wants to forgive us, we don’t have to beg him to do it, it’s something he wants to do.
“But,” Jesus said, “The story didn’t end there. As the man was making his way home to tell his wife and kids the great news, he came across another servant, one who owed him some money. Without even thinking about what he was doing, he grabbed the man and demanded that he pay what he owed.
“Well, the second man didn’t have the money, so he begged his friend to have mercy on him, to give him just a little more time. But the first man, wouldn’t even consider it. He called for the authorities and had the man arrested and thrown into prison until he could pay his entire debt.”
Jesus stopped speaking, letting the ramifications of the story seek in. You could see the disbelief on the face of most of the crowd. How could that happen? How could someone who had been forgiven such a great debt be so reluctant to forgive?
You could see Jesus reading the crowd, “Those who saw what the man did went to the rich man to let him know.
“And the rich man was furious. He had the first man brought to him, ‘After all I did for you, after I forgave a debt that you could never pay, you had the nerve to demand payment from your friend for that trifling debt.’
“And then he had the man thrown into prison to be tortured until he could pay his debt. Which, of course, he would never be able to do.
“That my friends, is how God will treat you, if after he forgives you so much, you refuse to forgive those in your life who have hurt you.”