Yixing Teapots

Register

Log in

Topics

Archives

Trinity 22 – St. Matthew 18

by steeh ~ October 13th, 2008

Feedback welcomed — does the Law seem to prevail in this sermon? I do not want to softpedal the stern warning of our Lord, yet…

Pentecost 23 – The Third Sunday after Michaelmass – October 19, 2008 – St. Matthew 18:21-35

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

How long would it take you to pay back a debt of five billion dollars? You never could, not in a million years, especially if you were a slave like the man in today’s Gospel. That slave owed a king 1,000 talents of money – something like a $5 billion debt would be for you or me. There was no hope for him to ever pay back that debt, so the king was ready to sell him along with his wife and children. But the slave begged for mercy, and the king had compassion on him. He not only set him free, he forgave the entire debt!

Like that slave, every one of us has a mountain of sin. We are unable to pay for a single one of our sins, let alone this mountain of debt. We have no hope, in ourselves, to get out from under this burden. But like the king in Jesus’ parable, our God is full of compassion. The Father sent His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ to make the payment for sin that you and I could never make. Your every sin was paid in full by the blood that Jesus poured out willingly on the cross. He is the compassion of your King and Lord. The blood of Jesus atones for all sin! You are free.

But now we must hear the rest of Jesus’ story. After receiving such great mercy for himself, that slave went straight out and grabbed a fellow slave by the throat demanding that he repay a measly 100 denarii – about $8,000 in today’s money. Compared to the $5 billion that he had owed the king, this was a drop in the bucket. But that slave demanded justice; he would not listen or have compassion when his fellow slave begged him for mercy. No, he threw that man into prison.

How unfair! That first slave was forgiven so much; but he would not give even a little mercy to his fellow slave. As we hear this story, that slave’s lack of mercy makes us sick; we are outraged and we are naturally relieved to hear what the king did to him when he found out. The king put that slave’s debt right back on him and turned him over to be tortured until he could pay the full amount.

It is good to see that wicked, unforgiving slave get what he deserves, isn’t it? But before we enjoy his punishment too much, we must hear Jesus’ warning and realize that He is speaking to each of us when He says, “So also will My heavenly Father do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

It is so easy to receive God’s boundless mercy and forgiveness; yet turn right around and deny forgiveness to those who sin against you. When we hold grudges, when we refuse to speak to others until they first apologize, when we say we forgive but continue to gossip about those who haven’t live up to our standards in some way, we are that servant who was forgiven $5 billion, but refused to forgive $8 thousand. As Jesus warns, this puts our forgiveness in great danger.

Like Peter in today’s Gospel, giving forgiveness is hard; we feel there must a limit to how much we have to forgive. “How many times must I forgive someone who sins against me?” Peter asks Jesus. “Up to seven times?”

In the world, this question makes sense. Seven times seems like a very generous number, especially when I often don’t feel like forgiving the first offense. But in the Kingdom of God, this is the devil’s question. How many sins must I forgive? Well, how many sins did Jesus pay for with His blood? He paid for every sin, of every person – more than sin than we could ever count! Therefore, if God has paid and forgiven every sin, but I withhold forgiveness after some arbitrary point – no matter how big it may seem to me — then I put have myself above God and against God. This is exactly what Satan wants. He wants you to join him in his battle against God. He wants sinners to get what they deserve. Misery wants company!

But in the Kingdom of God, sin is washed away and found no more in the sea of Jesus’ blood. This is the mercy we have received from Him who, as He was being crucified, said, “Father forgive them.” He did not wait for us to deserve or earn this forgiveness. Forgiveness was His heart’s desire and His free gift.

Freely you have received, freely you must give. We must strive to be merciful as Christ is merciful. Yes, it’s hard. The Christian life is tough work, to be sure, and you will fail often. However, striving and failing is something different from refusing to forgive. Insisting on your right to withhold forgiveness puts you in the devil’s camp. So then, strive to replace the words of judgment and condemnation that so easily come to our lips, with the words of grace that He gives you here. As His blood and blood fills you with life and forgiveness, freely give the same. It’s not your forgiveness but the Lord’s forgiveness that you give. He lives in you, that He might live through you to others.

Pray for the Lord’s help and strength in this holy endeavor. And in your weakness and failings, pray for His mercy and forgiveness, remember that His forgiveness for never ends. Not after 7 times, or even 70 times 7. Come and receive this gift of infinite mercy at the Lord’s Table. By this sacred meal, may the blessed Lord who forgives without counting, help us to put away our record books and join our hearts to His great heart of mercy and compassion.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Leave a Reply