Extreme Forgiveness
Matthew 18:21-35

This is familiar to all of us – because we are well aware of the experience that gives rise to the question: What do we do
with being hurt?
Not a cultural issue here between NT times and now, we know this question inside us: Being sinned against, being
offended, being wounded, wronged by someone. Same feelings same wounds.
The sins are the same – hurtful words, manipulating, raging tempers, disregard, neglect, abuse – straight to the heavy
stuff. The sting and damage is the same today as then.
How much more do I have to take? may be heard in Peter’s question. Family? – brother, my brother Andrew, maybe?
The one’s closest to us are the ones that are able to hurt us repeatedly. 7 times over. Families are close and they hurt.
Parents can hurt young hearts with harsh, mean words, bad actions. Adult children can hurt their parents mentally and
I’ve been damaged. Often these actions are teamed with no repentance or an “I’m sorry.” And what you get is a recipe for
a family that won’t hold together but will fall apart. And they do. For years, Sometimes forever. (Karen’s funeral.)
When is enough – enough? How many times do I forgive? When they never ask to be forgiven. How long, Oh Lord,
do I have to put up with it? Them?
**If I keep on forgiving what does that mean for them and for me moving forward?**
(This question will get turned back on the offended.)
Acknowledge: Talking about forgiveness – is hard, it’s deeply personal. To the abused forgiveness is an offensive word.
One of the harder demands of Christianity. Discussing it isn’t like discussing some doctrines. It’s like grappling in a
boxing match. Grappling with your opponent. It hurts. It may bring you to your knees.
SLIDE The World – Peter – Jesus
It’s most scandalous to the world around us. World says your giving the other person the upper hand. You’re giving
them power. How many times? Once.
21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
Peter was outdoing the Rabbis. Rabbis did what we should do. Go to the bible, Amos. Rabbi’s in the book of Amos
found a quotation of three times. “For four I will not revoke the punishment.” So, Peter did much better than the common
biblical thoughts of the day. Three times and no more.?!?
22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
Not 490, quantitative. Can you imagine 490 times someone does something to you? We do count, secretly in our heads,
don’t we?
This is a bible quote. Cain and Abel, Cain thinks he will be murdered, vengeance will be seven-fold, genealogy, seven
generations later genealogy strangely interrupted – Lamech
Genesis 4: 23 One day Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; listen to me, you wives of Lamech.
I have killed a man who attacked me, a young man who wounded me. 24 If someone who kills Cain is punished seven

then the one who kills me will be punished seventy-seven times!”
This boy slapped me – he’s dead. World’s view: Cain is weak, Lamech is awesome. Lamech inflicts extreme retribution
for the smallest of offenses.
Jesus turns this around. Getting retribution like Lamech, escalated violence, the cycle increases, it never ends, it’s the
world’s way. SLIDE Revenge for the smallest infractions. But in God’s kingdom it’s upside down, the opposite,
forgiveness for the greatest of infractions.
We could end now, a good teaching but >
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with
servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions
of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he
owned—to pay the debt. 26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I
will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. 28 “But when
the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat
and demanded instant payment. 29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient
with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until
the debt could be paid in full. 31 “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king
and told him everything that had happened. 32 Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil
servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow
servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ 34 Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his
entire debt. 35 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from
your heart.”
SLIDE A math problem
Denarius – coin – day’s wage. Second guy, 100 days worth of work, 3 months +
Talent = 6,000 denaria. 1 Talent = Working 16.4 years. 10,000 talents = 164,384 years
Why would the King let the man rack up that much debt? Not good business
First servant says what? I’ll pay you back. He can’t.
Servant does what? Finds the guy that owes him three months. Ridiculous, no one would do this. Absurd. That was
Jesus’ point.
SLIDE Who is the first servant? Peter, me, you. We are in act 1 – thank you for forgiving me my debt. We are also in
Act 2 – choking and screaming and accusing the one who owes us. “Pay me what you owe!!!”
Peter saw the situation about his brother but not about himself. The parable is necessary because it seems beneath Peter’s
question is self-righteousness, I’m so good and they sinned against me. . .
The point of the parable is to contrast: Someone owes you, but it’s nothing to what you owe God.
SLIDE The second debt
What about the second debt? This is real life, what do we do about that debt between two people?
Debt doesn’t disappear. It has to go somewhere. Someone has to pay. Do this, say this, mean it – or the one wronged has
to absorb it, it doesn’t just disappear. Does it?
What about when the debt is too large and to absorb it will bankrupt myself? Abuse? Genocide? The loss can’t really be
paid back. The death, the suffering . . . no matter what they do.
(Remember, Jesus knows he’s speaking to people who have suffered greatly at the hands of their oppressors.) How to go

SLIDE What forgiveness isn’t: 1) condoning, It’s ok. No. 2) Forgetting, let’s pretend this didn’t happen. No
consequences. Live in a pretend world. 3) Excusing 4) Accepting or allowing, stay and remain a punching bag, 5) It isn’t
fixing. All is fine. A magic wand. 6) Not trusting. It’s broken, maybe you can build back, but. . . 7) Not reconciling –
that takes two. Takes time, maybe never. Have healin, it’s a process.
SLIDE What forgiveness is: A reckoning and a release. I know what you did. I’m naming what you did. And you don’t
have to make it up to me. “Forgiveness is an accusation, it’s a kind of accusation.” Jesus: “If your brother sins against
you, go and tell him what’s up.” Condemn the deed and accuse the doer. It is an accusation.
Maybe we’ve too nice to forgive well. Let’s just cover it up, have grace, and move on. No, we can’t. Grace isn’t
cowardice. Stand up and say what you did that wronged me. Name it. If unnamed – it still has power over us. Call
things what they are. Forgiveness must recognize a wrong that’s been done. Then it can be released in full light.
SLIDE How do we move forward? Perspective on two things.
1) My own debt vs what is owed to me.
Debt I owe God Debt others owe me Dg/Do = infinity (like 164,00 years)
Do/Dg = miniscule, might as well be zero. (Or like 3 months wages)
Not all debts humans owe each other are equal. But God is equally merciful to all.
2) From the parable, both servants said: ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’
The first servant is given the opportunity to recognize himself in the face of his debtor. (We saw it didn’t we)
When I’m sinned against, I have the opportunity to see myself in the face of the wrongdoer.
SLIDE PARADOX – I am a criminal and a victim. Eve – Servant tricked me, and I ate. Something else was acting on
me. Sin, power outside of us sets itself against us. People who wrong us have a power outside of them acting on them.
(Example: family history, passing things down, the tree breaking apart, and it’s a powerful force.)
Jesus said on the cross, “Father forgive them they don’t know what they are doing.” We don’t realize what we’re doing
sometimes because we too are deceived. Powers and principalities are after us. There’s no excusing the offendor, but
they have things in their lives just like we do.
SLIDE Reckoning and release: A recognition of criminality and a recognition of their humanness.
I’m naming it but I’m releasing it because I know there is a common enemy working against both of us.
I choose to release. No eye for an eye. It’s an endless cycle. It’s never even – It always gets ratcheted up.
Ugly truth > Tim Kellar: “To refrain from lashing out is agony, a form of suffering.”
You lose reputation, you absorb the debt. It hurts terribly. Forgiveness is a costly form of suffering. It’s like death –
STOP, slow down – and remember Jesus’ death. So instead, we give death to bookkeeping, debts owed to us.
SLIDE Holding a grudge
There is suffering if you hold a grudge. The servant was turned over to tormenters. We become our own tormenters.
When we are unforgiving there is a certain kind of power. Relish a wrong. Demanding restitution. But like the parable, I
am actually the one in prison. A prison I build for myself. The anger eats away at you. You are shackled. Servant A is
imprisoned for how long? 164,000 years. Stuck.
The way to get out of “prison” is for you to show mercy, be merciful. We have to do the hard work of forgiveness as if
our lives depend on it. Our lives do.

SLIDE What if? What if the first servant had forgiven the 2 nd servant. What a great story this would be. God would be
SLIDE To those severely wounded
At some point, to those severely wounded, we have to let God’s death be enough. He paid for it all. When we are
wounded, we want a new life, like the bible promises. The wrong committed against you is not the death. The death is
when you enter into forgiveness. It’s painful. It’s like wanting a resurrection without a death. It can’t happen. After
the “death” then you can have new life. We are invited to go through “death” somewhat like Jesus.
SLIDE The only thing keeping us from resurrection life is refusing to die.