Jesus And Forgiveness: The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
I was thinking about Jesus and forgiveness and the man who went to the King and got his debt forgive (Matt 18:21-35) This man went out and put another man in prison for owing him less even though the second man asked for forgiveness in the same way as the first. When the king who had forgiven the first man found out, he revoked his forgiveness of that debt and sent the original man to prison.
This parable could be very disturbing to some. It present a much more dramatic picture of Jesus and forgiveness than we usually get. Jesus is saying that forgiveness can be revoked. And once revoked the consequences can be worse than before.
The torture of these men is often ignored. The torture in the case of the man who owed money to the first man, was to make him reveal any knowledge he was withholding. Such as hidden money or knowledge of people who owed him money; hence the words “until the debt is paid”. Presumably this also this also involved debt paid in time spent imprisoned and slave labor.
When the first mans forgiveness is revoked, by implication the torture would contain an element of punishment for his injustice.Thus some of his torture is retribution.
Despite the common perception this passage is not directed to the unbeliever. It is directed to those who have already been forgiven. It is about believers, through their unforgiveness of others, having their own forgiveness revoked.
Thus believers who seek God and receive His forgiveness of their sin but do not pass it forward, may be subjected to even grated punishment than they would have, had they not sort forgiveness in the first place.
I suspect that the reason why most don’t hear about this understanding of Jesus and forgiveness is because by nature we don’t want to know just how serious forgiving is and how seriously God looks on it.
So this is not just a story about forgiveness, it’s also about justice. The unjust are punished for their misuse of power.
“Forgive us our debtor”
This puts and interesting new light on The Lords prayer.
“Forgive Us Our Sins”, used to be translated as “Forgive Us Our Debts”. Whilst the meaning is the same, that meaning is also about showing others justice. It’s about asking the Father to forgive us but only in the same manner as we forgive others.
So The Lords prayer is about Justice. I wonder how many times we have condemned ourselves when saying it. Maybe next time we pray it we should stop and ask ourselves who have we not forgiven form the heart.