Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
How much are we to forgive our brother? I think it's really interesting that Peter asks this question in Matthew 18:21. It seems almost as if he is trying to justify himself. And we can easily imagine Peter flying off the handle in exasperation. He's one of those outgoing people whose reactions are often over the top.
Jesus' illustration is of two situations of forgiveness, both financial situations. In the first, the person in question owes a phenomenal sum of money. Ten thousand talents would be more money than any individual would be likely to have at any time. To be the master of a servant who is in charge of such a sum of money one would likely be a king or a top military advisor. One talent was typically enough money to outfit a ship of war with approximately three hundred personnel for a month. Ten thousand is simply a virtually unimaginable sum of money.
What's the appropriate response? Someone who has somehow managed to make such a sum of money disappear deserves severe punishment. The master, seeing his servant beg for forgiveness does the unimaginable and forgives him.
The servant then confronts someone who owes him money. In this case it is a hundred denarii. Some Bible versions take this lightly. It's about three months' worth of wages. That's a lot of money. To collect the debt, he begins shaking down the debtor, beating him up. He finally throws him into prison. This is not a move of forgiveness.
What does the master do? Hearing about the first servant's unforgiveness, he delivers him into jail as well.
We need to ask ourselves what God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven in us. He has forgiven us a debt that we could never pay. We need to be that forgiving to those who have trespassed against us. This is the answer Jesus gives Peter. How many times do you forgive your brother? As many times as he needs it. This is doing the works of God who is the forgiving Lord.
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