Complete Forgiveness 🥳 🥹 (Matthew 18:21-35)
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Complete Forgiveness 🥳 🥹 (Matthew 18:21-35)

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If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish. If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.

The Kingdom of God is at its best with its COMMUNITY IS FIGHTING FOR UNITY.

Overall Commentary: 🌎

Jesus continues His discussion on the most vital parts of a healthy community. The last passage spoke about the need to correct another believer who is in ongoing sin. We have been given the opportunity to bring healing to one another through loving accountability and reconciliation. Now, Jesus turns to the most obvious next question. How often should we do this? Isn't there a line where we go from being benevolent to a doormat? Of course, Peter is the one who asks this. Jesus explains the way to complete forgiveness. It is not easy, but it is possible.

The Church is a BEAUTIFUL MESS that fights for complete forgiveness.


Verse 21-22: The Challenge.

  • The Obvious question: The obvious question is how often should we forgive our neighbor. There is a limit to how often. Luke 17 goes into more depth, saying that forgiveness is granted to those seeking true repentance. This is not Jesus saying we should become doormats. He is saying we should honor those sincerely looking to make things right. This also doesn't mean we are allowed to hold grudges on those who are not sincere. Jesus is focusing on the sincere in this passage.
  • Why 7 times?: At the time, rabbis taught that forgiveness was important but not limitless. They taught from Amos 1 that forgiveness should only be offered 3 times. Peter likely thought that doubling it and adding one was being overly generous.
  • Was Jesus literally saying we should count 77 times?: Jesus is not saying we should keep a count. He is using hyperbole to say we should not keep a count by saying it would be a really big number if we were.

Verse 23-34: The Parable.

  • A parable: A parable is a story intended to explain a complex spiritual principle. Since complex spiritual principles apply to various concepts, a parable can relay those principles in one overall story.
  • Who is this king? Since this is a parable, this is likely not a real king. However, the behavior of the king shows us Jesus is talking about a non-Jewish king. We know this because a Jewish king was not allowed to sell an entire family into slavery to settle a debt. There are various parables where Jesus shows how the Kingdom of God's characteristics can be glimpsed in unholy places. This is usually Jesus saying that they should be seen exponentially more in His kingdom.
  • Who are the servants?: They are likely "tax farmers." These would be people who would be sent out to collect taxes for the king. This is the only way the first servant could have attained that level of debt.
  • How much did the first servant owe?: The amount owed was ridiculous and intended to convey that it was unpayable. He owed more than the entire area of Palestine had during that time. It would be the equivalent of trillions of dollars in today's money. Jesus was trying to convey the impossible place the servant was in. The king had mercy when the man said he would pay it back, but there was simply no way it would be possible. This makes the king's forgiveness that much more amazing.
  • How much did the second servant owe?: This would be the equivalent of a few thousand dollars. Still a worry sum but nothing compared to what the first servant had been forgiven.
  • Jailers: the most literal translation is torturer.

Verse 35: What is this important?

  • A Prison of Our Own Making: Jesus tells the bottom line of the parable. When we refuse to forgive, God will not remove what we do to ourselves as a result. It is a prison of our own making.

Top Takeaway- Complete Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things we will ever do. However, forgiveness is one of the most healing things we can do. When we choose to step toward forgiveness, it is really hard. The result is not just healing for ourselves. It is also healing for those around us. The healing is complete.

Message Notes


Further Resources for Deeper Study