Bible Society of South Africa

Unfathomable forgiveness – 2 March 2022

By Xanthe Hancox

Bible text(s)

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”

22“No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven,

Matthew 18:21-22GNBOpen in Bible reader

Exaggeration can be funny. Jesus once talked about having a plank in your eye (Matthew 7:3-5), and his listeners probably broke out in laughter. Similarly, when Jesus described the debt of the first man in today’s parable, (Matthew 18:23-35) the exaggeration would have been a jaw dropper.

Ten thousand talents would have weighed about 300 metric tons and would have amounted to 200 000 years of a day labourer’s wages. The crowd knew this debt could never be repaid. But the king forgives the debt! Instead of losing everything, the debtor is free. He can start life over again, unshackled from debt and worry.

Similarly, Christ’s forgiveness frees us from anxiety, remorse, and guilt. We are no longer in debt for our sin.

Jesus’ parables are like a window and a mirror. The first half of this parable offers us a window into the kingdom of God. Forgiveness is absolute and unlimited. But the window transforms into a mirror when we gaze into our own souls and discover how unlike God we are. Even after experiencing unfathomable forgiveness, the servant would not forgive the tiny debt owed him by another.

The parable began with a question: “Shall I forgive … up to seven times?” Jesus shows we should forgive so often that we lose track, because God has completely forgiven us.

Grace gives birth to grace. Is there anyone you need to forgive today?

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your freeing forgiveness. Create in me a new heart like yours. Amen.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
Find us on