Proper 19, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35
This week’s lesson follows on the heels of Jesus teaching on how we are all to humble ourselves as children in order to enter the Kingdom of God, on how we are to look for the lost sheep if there is one lost, and how we are to solve conflicts in our communities. This section of Matthew deals with how Jesus calls us to live together in community in this new way which leads to a good number of questions about what this means.
Peter asks Jesus how many times we are to forgive someone who has sinned against us or has done us wrong. Jesus responds with the parable known as the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Throughout the ages as people have interpreted Jesus’ answer of 77 times to mean never. We are never to stop forgiving and the parable leads us to see that as well. The servant who comes before the king owes him an outrageous amount. The king’s first reaction is to sell him and his family. Out of fear, the servant begs for mercy, and he is forgiven his debt. However, when the servant requires another person to repay him a rather small amount of money and does not forgive that person of his debt, the king shows no mercy. When the king sees that the servant is unwilling to forgive this small debt, he lets the servant know that he has had enough and hands him over to be tortured until he can pay his debt.
We are to show mercy and forgiveness to others just as God shows us mercy. The king’s willingness to forgive the debt completely at first is an example of how much God is willing to forgive us. It is only when we see the burden of our own debts that we can see the magnitude of God’s mercy in our lives.