Tuesday 07 May 2013

Bible Book:

Matthew 18:23-35 Tuesday 7 May 2013


The parable in today's passageagain begins with Matthew's typical introduction: "The kingdom ofheaven may be compared to …". On the face of it this parable isabout an earthly king whose middle manager has bungled the publicaccounts to the extent that an overwhelming debt has accrued. Theamount the king seeks to recoup is not just a big debt, but greaterthan all the taxes for the regions all around Judea added together.It is a greater amount of money than several thousand workers wouldearn in a lifetime.

In our own time when massive debtand yearly deficits blight national economies, we can perhapsidentify with the desperation of the servant and the anger of theking. This is a truly unpayable debt. The servant has no choice butto beg forgiveness, which the king gives.

The debt of the secondfellow-slave is also a large amount, but equal perhaps to theearnings of 100 days of work for a labourer. To pay it would bewithin the realm of possibility, at least. However Jesus' parablecondemns the unmerciful servant nonetheless. It seems that inJesus' teaching, the amount is not as important as the lack ofgratitude of the forgiven debtor. This should give rise tocompassion and mercy for his fellow slave.

So the kingdom of heaven may becompared to a place where the public conscience of the other slaves(who reported to the king what had happened, in verse 31) enforcesan expectation that gratitude at our own forgiveness will lead usto compassion for others. If it does not, then forgiveness may bewithdrawn.

Matthew's Gospel adds anallegorical sentence at the end of the parable: "So my heavenlyFather will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive yourbrother or sister from your heart" (v. 35). The interpretation ofthis passage as describing the relationship of forgiven sinners toGod, reinforces the earthy message of the parable.

To Ponder

  • How far should public figures be made an example of, if whatthey have done cannot be fixed?
  • In your view, is it fair to demand that forgiveness be granted?Why?
Previous Page Monday 06 May 2013
Next Page Wednesday 08 May 2013