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The Amazing Do-Over: Day 2

Before Peter has a chance to recover from Jesus’ surprising answer to the forgiveness question, the Lord begins to tell a story:

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me; he begged, and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go (Matt. 18:23-27).

The amount owed to the king can be loosely translated, “millions of dollars,” which might not be a problem for Donald Trump or Warren Buffet, but on a servant’s wages, repayment of a debt that size was a complete impossibility. Even repossessing all the man’s worldly goods and selling his family into slavery, would not make a dent in what he owed.

We learn some important things about the king in the story. He is wealthy and powerful, and he holds others to a certain standard. We also learn something about the servant; he is poor, irresponsible and in complete denial—whether through pride or stupidity-- of his predicament.

Then “the servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go." I am sure the palace guards had already grabbed the servant’s cloak and were preparing to give him the old heave-ho, when the king’s words of pardon motivated by a heart of pity, erased that insurmountable burden of debt. As we will find out later in this story, all who witnessed the king’s actions were affected by what he did.

Pity, as used here, means a deep feeling of compassion motivated by the utter helplessness of another. There was nothing the servant could offer to improve his situation. The amazing point of the story is that it was when the wicked servant’s helplessness was at its most ridiculously obvious (“Be patient with me…I will pay back everything”) that the king unilaterally moved to do for the man what he was totally incapable of doing for himself

Nancy Shirah

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