But that same slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii, and he seized him and began choking him, saying, “Pay what you owe!” So his fellow slave fell on his knees and begged him earnestly, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” But he was unwilling and he went and had him thrown in prison until he paid back the debt.
God’s heart is revealed clearly to us by the king’s response to this slave. His heart is moved with compassion. The slave is set free from prison and debt. We are set free through Jesus--the heart of God revealed in our Savior and King. But are we truly set free? Have we full grasped the immensity of what we have been forgiven?
This slave, like us, reveals whether we truly have been humbled into transformation or if we have taken the gift of salvation for granted. The slave has just been forgiven of 10,000 talents, or the equivalent of 6 billion dollars in today’s terms. No small thing. Jesus uses the analogy of worldly riches to cut through our wrong thinking so that we can see the truly amazing grace given to us. He wants to cut through with this parable because our response can so often be similar to this slave’s response. Although forgiven of so much, we are quick to hold onto unforgiveness when offended by another.
The slave was owed 100 denarii from another slave. This is was about 100 days wages, or in today’s currency around $12,000 dollars. It is important to note that Jesus makes it clear that the amount owed this slave was not nothing. If any of us was owed 100 days wages from someone, we would not forgive that amount very easily. Jesus is making it clear that offense from other human beings will occur, and when it does, He knows it is not a small thing for us to forgive. He is not belittling the hurts in our lives through this parable; He is revealing that He understands that forgiveness is a real challenge. But the greater truth Jesus reveals is that, like this slave, we have the tendency to focus on the $12,000 and not realize the $6,000,000,000 we have been forgiven. Jesus is not shy in showing us the debt that was over our lives towards God is so great that it’s almost impossible to compare to the forgiveness needed for our fellow human beings. Think about it. If we were forgiven 6 billion in debt today and ran into someone who owed us $12,000, would we be able to not release that debt over that person? And yet that’s what we do as a human race. And that’s why we are in this mess on planet earth. The flow of forgiveness keeps stopping with us; it keeps stopping with humans and not flowing towards other humans. So we have mankind choking each other over $12,000!
We equate our own forgiveness from God as a small thing because self-righteousness can tend to blind us. We think a 6 billion dollar debt is equated to a person who is really evil, but we fail to see ourselves as that sort of debtor. Jesus is not making that kind of comparison. He is wisely revealing that this story applies to all of us. It applies to the disciples listening and it applies to you and me as we read this parable today. It is a mistake to think this doesn’t apply to us: we truly are the ones with the 6 billion dollar debt, and essentially the things we hold onto, in unforgiveness towards others, reveal the consequences that kind of belief has on others.
In studying this parable I have realized how many people I am figuratively choking in my own life. It’s this choking, and not releasing of forgiveness towards others, that has only imprisoned me more and suffocated the potential relationship we could have together.
What if we began to pass on to other the forgiveness we have received? What would happen in our cities and our nations if we started the flow of forgiveness with us? Maybe this is could stop the flow of vengeance—maybe this could stem the tide of unnecessary suffering and hurt. A mighty river of forgiveness flows from the throne of grace. It’s time to release the dams in our heart and let this water of forgiveness flow towards others. Heaven comes to earth through forgiveness.
On earth as it is in heaven.