Seventy Times Seventy
The apostle Peter went to the Lord and asked him this question (found in Matthew 18):
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!”
Then Jesus continued with a spiritual truth in the form of a parable:
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.
“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.
“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.
“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.
“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
Indescribable, Unmerited Mercy and Forgiveness
I love this parable as it reminds me of how much our God is above the world’s systems of measurement and interpretations of justice. His thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways. What an amazing God we serve! His eternal Kingdom with King Jesus operates much differently than this earthly domain where we currently reside.
What’s really cool is that in the harvest fields around the world, when this parable is first heard and shared in a mother-tongue language, we see many of our indigenous SIU partners, these courageous and dedicated men and women followers of Jesus, discover and embrace this spiritual truth of our Lord’s indescribable, unmerited mercy and forgiveness.
As a result, we have seen so many of them forgive their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and enemies, demonstrating what our Lord shows to us with this parable of the unmerciful servant.
Our Lord already knows about our weak minds, patterns of failure and our sinful nature. Yet He shows us so much mercy and forgiveness IF we are ready to humble ourselves, repent and forgive others just as He forgave us.
Have you experienced this type of heart issue? How have you responded? I’m very interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic.