Today's Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
“Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” (Matthew 18:33)
Jesus is in the business of forgiving sins. That’s his job; that’s what God the Father sent Him here to do. Jesus’ disciples have been following him around trying to figure out what He’s all about and, despite His repeated claims to be the Son of Man here to deliver all of mankind from their sinfulness, they just don’t get it.
Peter seems to open his mouth more than the others He not only doesn’t understand what Jesus’ business is, he also wants to do the exact opposite. Peter wants to count his sin and count his neighbors’ sins. Peter wants to make sure he measures up and wants to be able to tell his neighbors when they don’t.
But the Lord does not work in numbers; He’s never been much of a math geek. Jesus throws a whopping number at Peter, seventy times seven, and, knowing that Peter still won’t get it, Jesus starts parabolizing.
In Jesus’ parable a man whose sins are forgiven refuses to forgive the sin of his neighbor. He retains his neighbor’s sin, despite his neighbor’s penitent heart and prayer. Putting verse 15 and 16 into action, the fellow servants of the forgiven neighbor run to tell the master what has happened. They’re tattletales!
The concern here is the unwillingness of the forgiven servant to forgive his neighbor. By not wanting to forgive his neighbor he acts like he himself has never been forgiven. It’s a slap in the face to the good gift of grace that was bestowed upon him. Worse yet, he jeopardizes his own soul in his refusal to forgive his neighbor. His refusal is nothing short of a rejection of the master’s forgiveness.
We are no better then our neighbor. In fact, just like in the parable, our sins are the same as our neighbor’s. The very forgiveness we bask in at Baptism is the forgiveness with which we deal with our neighbor. Thanks be to God, the Lord is in the business of forgiving sins. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
O God, our refuge and strength, the author of all godliness, hear the devout prayers of Your Church, especially in times of persecution, and grant that what we ask in faith we may obtain; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the 22nd Sunday after Trinity)