Sunday School Lesson July 1, 2018 Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
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Time: A.D. 29 Place: Capernaum
There hasn’t been anyone that has never been hurt by someone at some time or another. It’s an emotional distress when one has been hurt, deceived, betrayed, insulted, cheated as well as being manipulated. As Christians, we know we are to forgive those who have offended us and this is something we can’t do ourselves. We have to tell the Father what has been done to us, who done it, and ask Him to help us to forgive the person who has wronged us from our hearts. It’s easier to forgive those who come to us and ask for our forgiveness, but what about those who will not acknowledge they have hurt or wronged us? Although they may not acknowledge what they have done as a Christian, God’s expectation is for us to forgive them as He has forgiven us. How, by acknowledging how we feel about them, and ask for His Grace to forgive them.
Lesson Outline: I. Forgiveness Required – Matthew 18:21-22
Matthew 18:21 – Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Peter was always the outspoken one, he always voiced what he felt and had no problem asking the Master questions. Peter asking how many times shall he forgive his brother seven times was actually generous in his willingness to forgive seven times. The traditional limit was three times, possibly because of the refrain in Amos (Thus saith the Lord; For three transgression of Damascus, and for four. I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron – Amos 1:3) In each Scripture in Amos 1:3,6, 9, 11, 13, 2:1, 4, 6 the number three was used for transgression. Peter knew that he must not only bear a grudge against his brother, or meditate revenge, but be as a good friend as ever and forget the injury. He thinks it is a great matter to forgive seven times, Peter doesn’t mean seven times a day but seven times in his life.
Matthew 18:22 – Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but Until seventy times seven. The rabbis taught that people should forgive those who offended them three times. Jesus’ reply to Peter was “seventy-times-seven (the number of eternity), meaning that we shouldn’t even keep track of how many times we forgive someone. No matter how good of Christian we try to be, we have offended someone aware or unaware. When we look at ourselves and how our Father forgave us of our trespasses and sin and then placed them in the sea of forgetfulness; we should be as our Father, forgive them. You can’t forget what has been done against you because our brain is like a computer it stores things in our long and short-term memory, but we can release them so when the thought comes to mind, it will not bring anger or hurt in our heart or emotions.
Lesson Outline: II. Forgiveness Rendered – Matthew 18:23-27
Matthew 18:23 – Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. Jesus gives a parable about a certain king that is an illustration of how God’s kingdom works. Since this is a parable about a king and the kingdom of heaven, let’s envision how it went. There came a time for a certain king to consider the financial state of his kingdom and the nation. As the books of the king were being examined, it was discovered that a certain servant owed him ten thousand talents. A talent was a unit of weight perhaps seventy-five pound, depending on what the talent was made of silver, gold or bronze. The silver talent was most common in New Testament times and was equivalent to six thousand denari. The amount of what the servant owed was impossible for him to repay. Every sin we committed was a debt to God and can’t be repaid; only through the Grace He has given us through His Son Jesus we’re no longer in debt with God.
Matthew 18:24 – And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. The king had the servant brought to him that owed the debt. We can’t imagine what could have been the thoughts going through the servant mind that owed the debt, knowing that his debt was too large to repay.
Matthew 18:25 – But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The king commanded that the servant, his wife, and children be sold to make the payment. They confiscated everything the servant had to pay the debt, the servant and his family would spend the rest of their lives trying to pay off the debt. The servant family had to repay a debt the father owed. It would have been unthinkable if the wife and children had to pay off a debt they knew nothing about, this does happen in life, wives and children are harmed because of what the father owed.
Matthew 18:26 – The servant, therefore, fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. The servant did not make excuses but did ask for patience to repay the debt. The servant asked for mercy, although the debt was enormous, he would at least try to repay for what he owed. This parable also gives us an example of when we owe creditors; if we’re not able to pay them, call or write them to explain your situation and ask them to consider what you can afford to pay them, don’t just stop paying them and not inform them why you aren’t paying them. Because of your honesty and willing to pay most of them will take your request into consideration. The servant fell down and worshipped the king asking for his patience with him and he would pay the debt in full.
Matthew 18:27 – The lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. The king had compassion on the servant and forgave him his debt. The first debtor in this story represents us and our tremendous debt to God. There is nothing we can do to repay the debt we owe Him. But what we can do, is bow before Him and admit to our sins and ask Him to forgive us. Don’t go before Him worshipping Him without repentance. Once we repent of a sin, we don’t return to it! Jesus died so that we can go before God with a truly repentant heart to ask forgiveness and receive it.
Lesson Outline: III. Forgiveness Recalled – Matthew 18:28-35
Matthew 18:28 – But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him and hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. When the servant that was forgiven saw one of the fellow-servants that owed him, he didn’t have the same compassion for him as the king had given him. Instead of being out of gratitude for the mercy he had received, the servant acted roughly and non-compassionate towards his fellow-servant. What his fellow-servant owed him was not the enormous amount he owed the king and was released of his debt.
Matthew 18:29 – And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. His fellow-servant did as he did when he requested for patience from the king. He repeated the same words the first servant had used before the king. The servant fellow-servant debt could have been paid off since it wasn’t as large as his, and as he was, the fellow-servant was willing to repay his debt.
Matthew 18:30 – And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. Rather than having mercy and compassion on his fellow-servant, he cast him into prison until he could repay his debt. In Bible times serious consequences awaited those who could not pay their debt. A person lending money could seize the borrower who couldn’t pay him back and force him or his family to work until the debt was paid. The debtor could also be thrown into prison or his family could be sold into slavery to help pay off the debt. It was hoped that the debtor while in prison would sell-off his landholdings or that relatives would pay the debt. If not, the debtor could remain in prison for life. The king could have given him a life sentence or sold him and his family to slavery, but the king didn’t; he had mercy and compassion. You would think he would have done the same thing for his fellow-servant.
Matthew 18:31 – So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. The servant didn’t perceive the law of reaping and sowing. Some of the servant’s fellow-servants when the learned what had happened to one of their own they were distressed and upset. If they weren’t aware of the compassion the first servant had received from the king, they might not have reacted as they did because it was customary for the debtor to repay his debt. But because they knew the mercy and compassion given to the first servant they decided to report it to the king.
Matthew 18:32 – Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desirest me: When the king received the report he was angry with the servant. He did not excuse the servant’s actions and called him a wicked servant. The king pointed out the circumstances of the servant should have encouraged him to offer the very kind of forgiveness he himself had received. This parable reiterate the principle that we should forgive others because God forgives us.
Matthew 18:33 – Shouldest, not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? The king asked him, shouldn’t he have had the same compassion on his fellow-servant that was given to him. The parable deals with forgiveness between brothers and sisters professing to be Christians and saints. If we have received forgiveness from our Father we should also do the same for others. King David said “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity – Psalm 133:1.
Matthew 18:34 – And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. The king was very angry with the servant, he cast him into prison to be delivered to the tormentors. When we don’t forgive others we are in prison whether we no it or not and the wrath of God will eventually come upon us if we don’t forgive because unforgiveness is sin and the wages of sin is death.
Matthew 18:35 – So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your heart forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. This verse, as well as this story, is a warning about the penalty for not forgiving others. Our forgiveness should be in direct proportion to the incredible amount that we have been forgiven, then we must also be willing to forgive. If we refuse to receive God’s forgiveness or fail to embrace what his means in our human relationships, we reveal that we have never understood what forgiveness is all about, therefore judgment awaits us ( Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without no man, shall see the Lord. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled – Hebrews 12:14-15). As Christians we are to forgive those who have wronged us and blessed them by praying for them.