Matthew 18:21-35 The unforgiving servant

This parable is given in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness. After Jesus tells Peter he must forgive a person seventy times seven, He tells them this parable.

This parable is at the same time both simple and profound. The King is God, the servant is you, your debt are your sins. In the parable the king forgives a debt of 10,000 times 20 years wages. Roughly 6.4 Billion dollars. His fellow servant owes $870.00 and the unforgiving servant throws the man in prison. The King hears of it. And says I forgave you everything and you put your fellow man in prison over $870.00. Now I will hold you accountable for your debt.

Let’s put this into terms of our sins. If you only sinned 3 times in a day that’s over a 1000 sins a year, and 20 years’ worth is 20,000 sins. 10,000 times 20,000 is 200 million sins. And that is only if you sin 3 times a day. Yet however large the sum really is God forgives it.

How many sins has anyone committed toward you? 20 or 30? Have you got anyone getting over a 100 times? Considering all God has forgiven you, should will you still fail to forgive other people?

They spread gossip about you, call you names, undermine you at work or school, or cheated you in business. These are big things yes, but in the light of what God has forgiven you they are nothing. So, the straight forward message is you need to forgive others or God will hold you accountable for your own debt to Him.

Now I want to give this story a twist, to where you are both servants. God has forgiven you your great debt, yet you hold unforgiveness toward yourself. You make a mistake, speak crossly toward your spouse, child, parent, or friend. Now your angry at yourself for what you have done so you punish yourself in some way. We feel bad, are depressed, over eat, or isolate ourselves. We watch a bad movie or read a rotten book, spend to much on things we don’t need, or click on the wrong web page, or get angry because the car broke down. Now we are upset at our lack of holiness. So, we punish ourselves. We tend to be extremely unforgiving toward our selves. We stop praying because we are not worthy of talking to God. We stop going to church because we are not worthy of being with those other holy people. We stop being with friends because we don’t measure up to them. Some people are even physically ill because they fail to forgive themselves.

I was talking to a woman who told me that 20 years ago she stole her friend’s boyfriend and married him. She felt guilty and wanted to give him back. No, she wanted to know what I thought she should do. I told her to forgive herself, because God already has. Jesus died for your sin isn’t that enough?

God has forgiven you an astronomical debt, much of it you are unaware of and could not comprehend. But you will not let yourself off the hook for the ice cream cone you ate.

So, today look at life and ask who do I need to forgive? Could the person you need to forgive, even be you? What ever you have done, whatever someone has done to you, is nothing to what God has already forgiven you. Jesus has already paid for these things on the cross. Isn’t His life enough? Jesus was rejected, humiliated, beaten, nailed to a cross, his blood pouring out on the ground. He looks at us from the cross and ask isn’t this enough payment for you? Let us take up the challenge today of living a life of forgiving and being forgiven.

The Lost Sheep Matthew 18:10-14

The jungle was hot and wet with darkness falling, the group of men had been dropped off from a helicopter. Shortly after the firefight started. Will was the newest of the group, in country for two days and 18 years old. In the battle he got separated from them, He could be dead, wounded or captured, but they searched for him anyway. After a couple of hours, they found him, wounded and shook up but alive, they carried him to the LZ where the chopper came and picked them up. Relief and smiles came over everyone as they landed, they all made it back, it was a good day.

This is the story of the lost sheep from Matthew 18:10-14

This parable is given in the context of a discussion about who is the greatest or most important of them. Jesus’ response was to call the little child to Himself and proclaim the child to be the most important, then He gives this parable.

The owner rejoices not because this sheep is more important than the others, he rejoices because now they are all safe. Just as Will’s patrol did not rejoice because Will was more important, the rejoice because they all made it home safe that day.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

The mission, the goal, is to get us all home safe. No one is insignificant. Everyone matters. If any of you are lost, we will all come looking. This is supposed to be the churches mission. Not just the pastor’s mission but everyone’s mission. Yet how many are lost with no one looking for them. How many have left the church without being noticed, and searched for?

Sam was in rough shape when they found her living in a culvert. Cloths dirty and rotting, addicted to drugs, and starving. Many people had seen her but never stopped, some people were frightened of her. Yet this boy on a bike saw her and went and got his parents. Now they were putting her in their car. It was the start of a long road of getting clean and healthy. But this family stuck with her, celebrated her success and when she fell, they carried her. Sam was safe, Sam was found, and one more child of God was going to make it home.

The mission, the goal, is not that we all are perfect or righteous and holy, the mission is that we all make it out alive, that we all return home to God safe. Maybe beaten, maybe bloody and wounded, but we make it back. The rejoicing is not because of a person’s importance, it’s because one more has made it home safe.

This is the parable of the lost sheep. Stop trying to measure your importance and start looking for the wounded and lost, and when you find them carry them home to Jesus.

The mission, the goal, is that we all make it safely home.

The Net Matthew 13:47-52

As we finish this section of parables Jesus tells them about the judgement. His fisherman Disciples would have sat on the shore doing this same sorting of good fish from the bad. Jesus has told His disciples to sow without regard, don’t worry about the evil growing in the world, for like the mustard seed it will grow bigger every day. You do this because the Net is coming.

Jesus wanted the disciples to feel an urgency about the task He has called them to. It has been 2000 years since He told this parable, perhaps that’s why reaching the lost with the Gospel does not seem so urgent to us. But it should be. 55 million people will die this year, 151,600 each day, 6,316 in each hour. Each and every one will face the judgement. How many will be saved? How many could have been saved? How many were good soil where seed would grow if only it had been planted?

How many of these were in our field waiting for Gospel seeds so they could grow? Do we go about sowing seed? How many churches in our area are evangelizing people? Or do we sit around waiting for the field to come to us?

Halloween is such an odd holiday. You buy a ton of candy, then sit by the door waiting for kids to come to the door so you can give them some. But secretly your hopping they don’t come, that way you will have that ton of candy for yourself.

Strange at it is, this is the strategy of the church. We gather and study all the words of good claiming we are preparing to share them, waiting for them to come to us, all the while we secretly hope no one will ask.

We are not prepared, they might reject us, only weird people do this, someone else will get it done, and do a better job.

But the job is not getting done. While 55 million die each day 113 million are born, every day. Our churches should be growing, yet most are not. Very few of us will lead someone in the sinner’s prayer, if we even know what that is.

I am convicted, for I have not sensed the urgency to tell people about Jesus. I have not led that sinner’s prayer very often.

We feel urgency, we must stop those people coming from Mexico, we need to stop the Muslims, we need to get to the Black Friday presale. But do I feel the same level of urgency to share the words of Jesus?

There is no time for us to feel guilty about what we have not done, only time to change what we are doing. People are counting on us. 55 million this year, 151,600 thousand today, 6,300 an hour. Sow the seed with reckless abandon, because for each of us the net is cast, and the sorting will come. There is someone in our field waiting for seed, so they can grow and be part of the harvest.

Hidden Treasures Matthew 13:44-46

Matthew 13:44-46
Jesus has used parables to teach His disciples about the response they will receive, the culture of unbelief they will work in, reassured them the results will be worth their effort. Now He wants them to know the value of what they have found.

They need to know the value of the Kingdom of God, first for themselves but also for those they will call to enter in it.

People often dream of finding treasure. The Picasso in grandma’s attic, the Gold nugget in the backyard, the winning lotto ticket found on a sidewalk. But if you are one of those lucky few to make such a find what would you do to attain it.

Bill gates is one of those lucky few. Gates knew of a person who had developed a system to place programs for a computer onto a disk drive. Gates went to IBM and told them he could provide them with this system. He negotiated a contract where IBM paid a license fee for the system. With the money he got from IBM, he bought the system for them man who invented it. Gates knew of something valuable, figured out how to sell it and then went out and bought it. Microsoft was born.

Jesus wanted the disciples to know that the Kingdom of God is worth everything they have or ever would have. In Matthew 19 the Disciples put the question to Jesus “We have left everything to fallow you, what will we have?”  “Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.   29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.   30But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Jesus wants the Disciples to know that what they are giving their life for is more valuable than anything this world could ever offer. This is also their message to the people they would preach to. This is more valuable than anything else.

The second part of this set of parables is the cost. Jesus is up front about the cost. To get this wonderful gift of forgiveness, and the Kingdom of God it is going to cost you everything.

As evangelist we often emphasize that Heaven is a free gift from God and we leave out that there is a cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship, called it “cheap grace.” To enter the kingdom, you must leave everything else behind. In the USA friends might leave you, you may need to leave your job, you may lose your reputation as people say you have intellectually sold out. Your faith may cost you your family. In some groups they even hold a funeral for you. And in some countries, it might just cost you your life.

There is nothing easy about being a Christian if you truly understand and pay the cost. So, as you invite someone to believe in Jesus, remember what your asking them to do.

This left me with a question. “Have I really paid the cost?” “Have I really left everything behind for the Kingdom, or have I been trying to change the price tag?”

I pray you will take time to reflect on these questions. Have you placed the right value on the Kingdom? Are there things you need to leave behind, changes that need to be made? As you go out into all the world and share the Gospel, remember it’s value to you and to those you share it with.

Mark 8:34- 38
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
For what can a man give in return for his life?
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”