by Buzz Dahlen
It is hard to decide how to begin this week’s Pastor’s Pen. I cannot think of any catching line to perk your interest. So, I will begin with this thought; we all want our debt to be forgiven yet we are want others to pay their debts owed to us. Do you get the gist? We live in a time when it seems that everyone is in debt. You cannot watch TV in the evening without seeing a handful of “get out of debt” commercials. It is so easy to get into debt, deep debt. It can happen, seemingly, so quickly. It does not take much to get into debt, because everyone seems so willing to loan us the money. Well, this is not a “how to get out of debt” Pastor’s Pen. But I do want to look at a form of debt, the debt of sin.
We are all born in debt, spiritually speaking. Our Great, great, great… Grandparents, Adam and Eve, went into debt and that debt has been collecting interest ever since. I might add that they did not get a very good interest rate, either. Anyway, we are all born in debt, deep debt and the only way that the debt can be paid is with the life of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
There is a great chorus that goes like this: “He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone, to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace… Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”
Jesus paid in full the debt of our sin. If we could put the value of that debt in dollars, I wonder how much that would be… When Jesus was asked by Peter, “how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Jesus told him this parable: "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. Matthew 18:23-34
In today’s economy the ten thousand talents is the equivalent of millions of dollars. A hundred denarii are just a few dollars. What Jesus is communicating is that the debt of sin that God has forgiven of us is incomparably greater then any thing we might be asked to forgive of other.
Jesus also was communicating that God takes forgiveness seriously. Because he goes on to finish this parable: "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Verse 35 You have been forgiven so much, follow god’s example…