This powerful parable revels a number of connected truths - truths too great to present fully in this brief meditation.

Peter has just asked Jesus Christ how much he should forgive. In trying to get Jesus to fix a limit to forgiving he betrays that he has not yet grasped what Jesus means when he talks about forgiveness. He has failed to understand that forgiveness is not something that can be stacked up and measured in terms of quantity, but a mindset, a way of life, an over-ruling principle by which the whole of our relationship with God, with ourselves and with others is to be governed and directed.

Jesus introduced this parable with the words 'I do not say to you until seven times but until seventy times seven, because this is what the kingdom of heaven is like ... ' (literal translation.).

This parable lays bare one of the operating principles of God's kingdom - the principle of forgiveness.

It is through God's forgiveness that we become members of his kingdom; it is through his forgiveness that we continue as members of his kingdom; with this principle of forgiveness he relates to us; and he commands us to relate to each other with this principle of forgiveness.

As this parable unfolds we learn of  

The immeasurable and unpayable debt in which our sin holds us bound.

Our real ignorance of our absolute inability to work off that debt.

The unexpected and incredible generosity and mercy of God.

The difficulty we have in relating to God and to others in terms of this operating principle of forgiveness.

The incongruity and impossibility of the person who has really received God's forgiveness continuing to refuse forgiveness to another.

We will look further into this parable in the next two meditations.

Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004, 2010.