The Unforgiving Servant

Stories Jesus Told

Pastor Jonathan Drake - August 23, 2020

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Read the story that Jesus told in Matthew 18:23-35. 

  1. Have someone in your group provide a 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching. 

  1. What is one thing that God was showing you in this message? 

  1. What is the connection between how much we have been forgiven in Christ and how we should show forgiveness to others? 

  1. Where in your life do you most need to apply the truths of Matthew 18?  

  1. What is one action step that you can take in light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today?  


Sermon Transcript

Good morning everyone. I'd ask you to turn in your copy of the scripture to Matthew chapter 18. Matthew 18 is where we're going to be and spend most of our time this morning. And as you're turning to Matthew 18, the passage that was just read, maybe you can relate to this scenario. Have you ever found yourself in a hurry because you were late and you were trying to get to work, but because you were late you started to get really antsy and really anxious about what would happen when you finally walked through the door? Maybe that was getting to the office or maybe that was getting to school or maybe that was getting to the factory. Whatever it was, you realized you were late and you started to go through in your mind all of the reasons why you were late. Because after all, when we're late, rule number one is, it wasn't my fault.

You see, I went to find my keys and my toddler had hid my keys. And I finally got out to the car and then the car wouldn't start. And I got into the car, I finally got it started and started driving, and then there was a whole bunch of traffic. And then I got up to the door and the door was locked, so I had to go around and find another door. And then the elevator was out of order, so I kept pressing the button, nothing was happening. And I got to the stairs and finally made it, and that's why I'm late. You've been in that spot? There's always a reason, right? There's always several reasons, usually not even just one reason, but like we have to paint this whole picture of why we were late. But maybe you've also been in this spot where because of how sick that feeling is, that sinking feeling as you're looking at your watch or your phone or the clock in your car, and you're realizing those moments are ticking away.

And you're like, "I have 59 seconds. Maybe if I go 60 miles an hour, then I can get there in 59 seconds, and I get through the door. You know that sinking feeling. Because you're so like, "Oh, I don't want to experience that again," what do you do? That night, you say, "Tomorrow is going to be different, tomorrow is going to be different. I'm going to get ready tonight. I'm going to go out and I'm going to make sure the car starts. I'm going to go out to the driveway and start it before I go to bed. I'm going to put the keys in my shoe, I'm going to lay out my clothes on the floor just like the rapture happened and my clothes were left there. I'm going to get the whole outfit ready, get my coffee, the programmer started so it goes off at 7:01. I'm not going to be late."

And you do it. And let's say, everything goes finally as planned and you beat the traffic, you get to the right door. You show up and you're on time or even early. What's happening in that moment? You're feeling like I did it. One day in a row, by the way, but, hey, I did it. And you have this sense of self-satisfaction. I've been there. I've done this. You've done this too probably. And then what happens inevitably when one of your coworkers or one of your classmates comes in a few minutes late? What's going through your mind in that moment? I can't believe that they showed up late. It's like we have a memory problem. You're thinking, "Man, this guy, he's coming in late, no respect for other people's time. We're having to wait to start the meeting, we can't get going with the class. We can't do this."

I remember waiting in class for a professor to show up, I'm thinking, "He's got five more minutes." You know what, I know I'm a 18-year-old and he's a man in his 40s with a PhD, but I'm giving him five more minutes because I was on time, today and today only. We've all been in that spot. And you know why that is, because for us, we've got a whole bunch of really good reasons, excuses, I mean, reasons for why we were late and that has nothing to do with our character. I'm not late because I'm a late person, I just happened to be late that day. But that person who shows up, they're careless, they're rude, they don't have respect for anyone else's time. Or maybe it looks like this, maybe it's a different scenario. Maybe it's that I say something offensive to a friend or a family member.

I make a joke that I thought was an okay joke or I make a comment that I thought was an okay comment, and it clearly offends the other person. And so I backpedal and I deflect and I say, "Hey, you laughed at that the last time I said it," or, "Hey, you've made jokes about it yourself before," or, "I didn't know that was going to strike a nerve, I didn't mean anything by it. I wasn't trying to hurt you. Man, it was just a joke, lighten up. Don't be so easily offended." But if the shoe's on the other foot, what happens? If someone says something offensive to me, they're a big jerk. Man, how thoughtless and careless could you be? You know that that's not something I find funny, and I can't believe you'd pick on me for that. That was outside of my control. And you're just such a rude person, you're very ignorant. You're so full of hate that you would think that was funny.

What's happening? I'm able to, or in my mind justify my flaws are just circumstantial, my flaws are environmental. My flaws are maybe contingent upon how the day was going. But your flaws, well, that's because of your character. You say something offensive to me, you're a jerk. If I say something offensive to you, I wasn't trying to be a jerk, I just thought it was funny, it was just a joke. There's actually a name for this, it's called attribution bias or sometimes maybe more specifically, the fundamental attribution error where we assign people's flaws to their character, but we don't want to do that to ourselves. We don't want anyone to do that to us.

We want grace, we want mercy, we want accommodation, we want understanding. We expect you to give that to us. But for other people, we're far less quick to give that out. In fact, we're far quicker to assign a label or a category or put someone in a box, "well, that's just because you're this kind of person," instead of saying, "well, maybe they were having a bad day," or, "I could see how anyone would make that mistake." Or, "Hey, it happens, we've all been late before. Hey, I've been there." Sometimes empathy is slow to show up on the scene when maybe our first response is one of, well, that's because you're a jerk, that's because you don't respect other people's time. That's because you don't value our friendship and on and on the list goes, the attribution bias. We want to assign those flaws to other people's character, but I don't want you to assign my flaw to my character, that just was the circumstance.

We've all been in those situations. And maybe if you haven't pinpointed that attribution bias before, maybe now you will. But what's so amazing is that this is part of the universal experience as humans. But even though that term attribution bias wasn't a part of the first century vernacular, for Jesus, for sure, he readily exposes that error for what it is. He points out this part of the human nature where our inclination is to be self-righteous and to be very convinced about our own motives and really quick to absolve our own flaws and very slow to do that with other people. Jesus exposes that for what it is, it's an error. But what's amazing about Jesus is he doesn't do that with a rant, he doesn't do that with a lecture, he doesn't do that with a post online. He does it by telling a story.

And in his way that he had with the command of the language that was available to him, he masterfully tells a story, the story that we heard read over us at the beginning of this message. And as Jesus tells this story, he is going to point out exactly where we err in this regard. And he does that by telling that story. But before we get to that story, we need to understand the backdrop because oftentimes understanding or rightly understanding the backdrop to a story is just as important to interpreting the story accurately. And so the backdrop to this story begins in verses that we didn't hear in Matthew 18:21, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you not 7 times but 77 times."

The rabbis of the day, the Hebrew rabbis often would teach that a person should forgive an offense three times. But on the fourth, there didn't need to be forgiveness. And it's possible that Peter even knew that and is flexing a little bit as he brings this question to Jesus. It's also possible that he had in mind what he had already heard, and that was the Sermon on the Mount where many times Jesus says, you've heard it said, but I say to you. And Jesus continually exceeded the requirement of the law or the cultural demand. So maybe Peter is even picking up on that theme, and perhaps I would imagine maybe he's wording his question to Jesus, "Jesus, we've all heard it said that we should forgive three times. But do you say to us we should forgive seven?" You can imagine that was Peter, it's not a stretch. But he's thinking maybe he could score some brownie points with the teacher. And Jesus absolutely pops that balloon of pride by saying no, not 7, 77. Or some translations that you might have in front of you say 70 times 7.

So what's being said here? Jesus, are you saying that we're still keeping track, but our generosity level in our forgiveness has to just expand? We're still keeping track like everybody else. But what does that mean, 77 times, 490 times? What am I supposed to do here? I think if we get too locked into that idea, we'll miss the point because that phrase 70 times 7 in the language of scripture and certainly in the culture of their day was meant to imply something that was above and beyond, grand, huge. It would be like our saying, to the nth degree. We say that sometimes, that's to the nth degree, it's above and beyond. And so the idea is not that we keep record of other people's wrongs, but we just keep a little bit of a longer list and we allow for a little bit more offense. It's actually that we don't keep those records anymore.

A theme that the Apostle Paul would pick up on at a later time. So Jesus starts the story after Peter's question, after his answer. The kingdom of heaven is like, that's how he starts. The kingdom of heaven is like, this is a kingdom parable. This is a parable, a story that Jesus wants to communicate how he wants his kingdom to work, how he wants life to operate in his economy. And so he tells a story, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who began to settle accounts. And one was brought to him who owed 10,000 bags of gold. That's what the NIV translation says. The NIV is trying to help put this into perspective for us, get our arms around it because the original language merely says 10,000 talents.

Well, talent is not a denomination of currency that most people are familiar with. And so to help us with that, 10,000 bags of gold. Okay, I can kind of picture that. But the intent is not for us to then do kind of like a conversion chart of, well, 10,000 bags of gold, what was the price of gold in 30 AD? And what's the price of gold in 2020? And try to figure that out. And believe me, a lot of people have done that. I was reading a lot about this passage, as you can imagine, to get ready for today. And I saw representations anywhere from $2 million to $100 million, and I think this is a colossal example of missing the point. Because the intentions for what Jesus was saying was not, how can I calculate just how much this bad guy is? This guy owes all this money. But rather, this is laughable.

And we know that because of the words that Jesus use. He says, and again, in the original language, 10,000 talents. Well, the word for 10,000 is myria, Greek from which we get myriad. And so the term myria, 10,000 was the largest numeral for which a Greek term existed in the first century. So this is big. And then talents, talents was the greatest, biggest denomination of currency in the Roman empire. And so you've got two have these grand phrases next to each other, 10,000 talents, it's designed to invoke us a response of amusement, like a smirk, a laugh, like being baffled. The same way as if I said, yeah, he owed a bazillion gajillion dollars. That's the kind of response that hearing 10,000 talents would have evoked in the disciples. They would've been like, "Okay, wow, that's insane."

Can you assign a dollar amount to a gazillion bajillion dollars? No, that's exactly the point. It's beyond counting, a big number. And having that in mind is what makes the next part of the story even more laughable because Jesus continues by telling us the response of this servant in verse 26 of Matthew 18. At this time, the servant fell on his knees before him, "Be patient with me," he begged, "and I will pay back everything." The disciples would be laughing out loud like, Yeah, right, sure you will, buddy. This is like a gazillion bajillion dollars, "I'm going to pay it all back." "Yeah, okay. You don't have enough lifetimes to pay this back. There aren't enough eBay auctions and Facebook marketplaces for you to side hustle your way out of this debt, bro. This is too much, not happening. It would be laughable that he would say this, "I will pay back everything."

And so that's what Jesus wants his disciples to be thinking about as he then delivers the next part of the story. Because Jesus was the master of literary elements. In one, he uses hyperbole. And he follows that up by giving what is the least expected response. He does this time and time again where his listeners think a story is going in one direction, and then he absolutely detonates that by giving the least expected response. And it's this in verse 27, "the servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go." This doesn't happen, this doesn't happen. This is not something that kings do who are settling accounts of someone who owes them a gazillion bajillion dollars. That doesn't happen.

Just like in Luke 15 when Jesus is telling the story of the prodigal, and the father sees the son coming from a long way off. And in order to run after him, he would have had to cinch up his long tunic and bring it up and tuck it into his belt exposing his calves, which dignified men in a community would not do and run after the wayward son who had brought shame and dishonor to his family name. That doesn't happen. And kings who are owed 10,000 talents, 10,000 bags of gold, whatever you want to say, kings who are owed insurmountable debts do not take pity, their heart doesn't go out to them, cancel the debt and let them go. That doesn't happen, that doesn't happen. That's what Jesus wants his listeners to understand as they're listening to him tell this story, this is unbelievable, this would never happen in our world, this would never happen in our economy. But Jesus is telling us the kingdom of heaven it is like this.

And why it's like this is important as the story continues. Look at verse number 28, "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him, "Pay back what you owe me," he demanded." This is unbelievable. This guy has just been forgiven this insurmountable debt and he goes out and find someone who owes him 100 silver coins. Now, the original language is 100 denarii, and a denarius in the singular would be what a day laborer would get for a single day's wages. So 100 days worth of work, about three months worth of work. Whereas we weren't even supposed to calculate the 10,000 talents because how could you, it's a ridiculous idea. 100 silver coins, 100 denarii, that's attainable, that's realistic, that's specific.

And whereas the first servant said, "I will pay back everything." Look at the second servant and see his response in verse 29, "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, Be patient with me, and I will pay it back." Hey, man, I'm on baby step number two, we've just started our debt snowball. I'm listing my debt smallest to largest, you are literally the next debt that I'm going to pay. We just paid off charity express. You're next, man, I swear. I'm bringing you that money next. He says, "I will pay it back, I will pay it back." And the reality is, he probably could have with some time. Be patient, I'll pay it back. And in the grand scheme of things, that first servant could have forgiven it. But you know what he does instead, he refuses. He has that guy thrown in jail, which was legal, was permissible for a debtor, a debtor's prison until he could pay it back.

But you can imagine what a hopeless situation that is, right? Because how could you pay down on a debt that you don't have any income. If you're in jail, you can't earn income. There's no direct deposit or time off days you can use like, "Hey, I'm not going to be coming in on Monday, I'm going to use a day off." There is nothing like that, you're stuck. Unless a benefactor comes to your aid, this is a hopeless position, this is a hopeless spot to be. But what's amazing about this story is these two servants aren't the only ones in the interaction. Look at how Jesus continues this story in verse 31, "When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in, "You wicked servant, 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?""

You don't get it, you don't understand what I've done. You don't understand the debt that was forgiven to you. If you did, it would have changed how you acted. As I said, this first servant could have absorbed the debt of 100 silver coins. After all, when you look at the ledger sheet, you were in the red 10,000 that morning, you're still coming out ahead, man, you're still in the black. Even if you have absorbed that 100 silver coins, you're still like 9,999.99 ahead. What's 100 silver coins between friends? I mean, how many times have we said that to each other? Forget about it. He doesn't do it. He doesn't forgive it, he doesn't delay payment. Instead he throws him into prison.

And Jesus wants us to see that this servant looks nothing like the king, this servant looks nothing like the king. And you can figure that out just by contrasting the two, think about it. As the story begins, as Jesus is telling it, the king is settling accounts, it's a very calm scene. He calls in the one who owes him money says, "You owe this, this is your debt. You need to pay it." He says, "I can't pay it. Please, please don't make me pay it. Give me some time and I'll pay it back, I'll pay it all back." And the king's heart goes out to him and he cancels the debt. But the servant on the other hand, when he leaves. And the text says that he found, he found another servant who owed him 100 silver coins. That word can maybe mean just coincidentally he ran into him, but it can also mean went and searched for. In fact, that's exactly how it's used when Jesus tells those three stories in Luke 15 about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son, went and searched.

So he went out and found him. He grabs him, he starts to choke him, and screaming in his face demands that payment be made. This servant, listen, takes on a posture that is completely foreign to the kingdom, it's completely foreign because that's not how the king settles debts, the king didn't grab him, start to choke him and say, "Pay back your 10,000 talents." He didn't do that. So this servant actually takes on a completely different posture, a completely different attitude than even the king in his kingdom. And Jesus wants us to see that clearly. Jesus wants us to see that this servant doesn't look anything like the king. But what's incredible is after the other servants go and tell the king, that first servant who was forgiven the gazillion bajillion dollars, he ends up receiving the same fate that he gave to the other guy.

Look at verse 34 of our text, "In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed." This story isn't intended to teach that God reverses his pardons. So if you're jumping ahead and you're thinking, okay, how does this relate to God and us? If you're jumping ahead, which is good, this story, doesn't teach that. The story isn't teaching us that God forgives and then he takes it away, that he would be so petty in that way. Nope, that's not what Jesus is teaching us in this story. Instead, he's not teaching that God reverses his pardons. No, he's actually teaching us what an unforgiving heart reveals. An unforgiving heart according to this story is one that was never actually forgiven.

You wicked servant, you don't understand the mercy that I showed you. You don't get it, you think that was owed to you. You think that, hey, I'm wealthy, so I should've just absorbed it. You don't understand me, you don't understand what I've done. Jesus wants us to see that the unforgiving heart reveals that maybe that heart was never forgiven in the first place. He wants us to see that with clarity. And remember, this all started with Peter's question, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? I think the only answer you can draw from this story, as many times as the king has forgiven you. How many times should I forgive, seven? That's a lot. How many times has the king forgiven you? How many times has he forgiven me?

You see, if we walk away from this story with any other understanding, we've missed the point. Jesus wants us to know, wants you to know, wants me to know, you and I, we have been forgiven an incalculable debt. Gazillion, bajillion doesn't even touch it when it comes to our sin before God. You and I have been forgiven an incalculable debt. And if we understand that forgiveness, if we understand what the king of the kingdom has done for us, it will change how we treat other people. It will change how we forgive other people. Because when we stand in light of our own need before God, and we stand with crystal clarity over our sin debt before him, we recognize just how much we need him and how little we deserve it.

Jesus intended it for us to regularly remind ourselves of our need for forgiveness even in how we pray. Remember when he taught his disciples in the Lord's Prayer, Matthew 6:12, "Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors." That these two things are forgiveness from God and how we forgive others. These things were always meant to be linked together so that we would not forget what it feels like to be forgiven. Therefore, we would never be petty in how we give out forgiveness. You see, those words that Jesus spoke in Matthew 6, it can also be rendered forgive us our debts in the same way we forgive others.

That's a dangerous prayer. I don't know about you, but I can be petty. I can hold onto things longer than I should. If I'm not careful, I can harbor resentment towards people who have wronged me. I'd imagine you can too. And I can be really slow to give out forgiveness because like the examples I gave at the beginning, my flaws, my offenses. Well, those are circumstantial. I'm not actually a jerk, that was just a bad day. But that person, they're a big jerk, the biggest there is. And so I can hold onto things and I can even justify my lack of forgiveness because of my assessment of their character. Well, they don't deserve it, they don't deserve to be forgiven.

And when you hear it out loud, you realize what an error that is. This is me, I'm speaking for me, I don't want God to forgive me when I'm deserving of it because guess what that would mean? You may have heard on the radio, a guy named J. Vernon McGee, a Bible teacher from decades past. He said this, "If God forgave our sins in the same way we forgive others, none of us would be forgiven." Think about it, think about how petty we can be. Think about the things that we hold on to, think about the contortions that we make people go through before we will dole out a little bit of forgiveness. Let's see if you mean it, see if you really are, prove it. You're sorry, well, prove it. And we take on a posture that is completely unlike the king of our kingdom. It doesn't look like him.

We need to be careful of what can go on in our hearts because although all of you who claim to follow Christ would admit and recognize I needed Jesus to save me of my sin, I needed him to forgive me of my sin. And you confess that like I would, and it's true. It's amazing how hard our hearts can become over time if we're not careful. And then we can actually become convinced that, well, my sin was only this much. Compared to that guy, what God forgave me of was much, much smaller. Compared to her, I'm spotless. And we start to live in a different economy than the one that Jesus says, this is how my kingdom is going to work.

You see, if we understand all that debt that we were forgiven, it will change how we forgive others. We're living in an age, the age of the easily offended. It's never been easier to insight the raw emotions of people with a post, a comment or a retweet than it is today. And it's not all social media's fault. After all, social media is rightly called a platform because it has given us a platform to see the ugliness of humanity and mass. But it's never been easier to offend and to be offended. And shocking though it may be, even Christians can get sucked into that as well. And I'll defend my American right to be offended, thank you very much. It's kind of that sort of thing, it's never been easier. But we need to be mindful of something, well, I guess I do. There is nothing that you could say or do to me that is worse than what I have done to God.

If you try to hurt me with words, try to cut me down, try to touch a nerve, you could probably be successful. Would it hurt? Yeah. Would I like it? Absolutely not. But that pales in comparison to the mountain of sin that apart from Christ I'm guilty of. There's nothing you could say or do to me that is worse than what I've said and done to God. Because if we rightly understand sin, if we can see it clearly, we recognize just how serious it is. It's not to be trifled with. It's not a light thing, it's rebellion. I want to be my own God, that's why I do what I want to do, not what God wants to do.

And when we recognize the severity of our need, it changes how we treat other people. I really admire the writings of Charles Spurgeon. And he said this, "If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him for you are worse than he thinks you to be." I need that because you know what, it's really easy to be offended when you're puffed up with pride, but it's actually very hard to be humiliated when you're already walking in humility. It doesn't mean groveling, it doesn't mean I'm worthless. It doesn't mean I'm no good, I'm nothing. No, it's sober-minded. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think but rather with sober judgment that we can finally see things clearly. And listen, when you get to that place, it is so liberating, it is so freeing. I wish every Christian could experience it because it is so freeing. And then you get to be a dispensary of God's forgiveness to others.

You actually get to be an agent of forgiveness to others. You say, "Well, I don't have that kind of forgiveness, I don't have enough forgiveness to give to the people who have wronged me." That's okay, he's got more. He can give it to you just like his love. You're not the manufacturer, you're just the distributor. And so when you feel like I don't have enough love for this person, that's okay, you were never supposed to have the kind of love that they need. You're supposed to go to the source and then become a distributor. That's exactly how it works with forgiveness. God, I don't know how I could ever forgive them. That's okay, I've got some. I've got enough, I can give it to you. I could never forgive them for what they've done, I could never forgive them for what they've said. These statements should not linger long on the lips of a person who has been forgiven in Christ.

If I could take everything we've said and distill it into a single statement, it will be this, we will never fully look like the king until we freely forgive like the king. We will never fully look like the king until we freely forgive like the king. Jesus wants the citizens of his kingdom to look different, that's why he made so much to point out that this servant looked nothing like his king. But he wants different for us, he wants us to look like him. He wants people to see his forgiveness in our lives. He wants people to have access to the forgiveness that they so desperately need in Christ. And he intends for that access to be seen through you and through me. That's his design, that's his plan.

We should expect that in a day and age where personal sin, the idea of it has just fallen out of modern usage, people never have their own sin. I don't know if you've noticed this. We don't even use that word, we talk about different terms and we quantify it with all sorts of circumstances and explanations and excuses. But we are so good at pinpointing evil in other people. We should expect that in a day and age where personal sin is downplayed but self-righteousness has actually gone through the roof, we should expect offense among people like that because that's a recipe, that's the recipe for offense, self-righteousness. We should expect that, but we should expect different of people who have been forgiven. We should expect different of ourselves.

You see, the servants of the king have an incredible privilege that we get to announce, we get to announce the king's forgiveness to the world who so desperately needs it. Imagine, imagine for a moment if people cannot find forgiveness from you who they can see, why would they believe that there is a forgiving God who they can't see? If you and I who claim to have been revolutionized by Jesus. Man, he set me free, he forgave my sin, he gave me a brand new life. Man, I'm a completely different person. If you who claim to be revolutionized by this Jesus do not forgive others like he has forgiven you, why should they believe that this is an authentic message? Why wouldn't it just be dismissed as religious talk?

What if you could change someone's mind about the Gospel by the way you forgave them? What if? What if all of the energies that we're pouring into this mission statement that you hear us talk about all the time and see written everywhere you look of giving every man, every woman and every child repeated opportunities to hear and see the Gospel? What about all of the worry that we put into that? I mean, you've been there like, man, how am I going to talk to my neighbor about the Gospel? How am I going to talk to my coworker about the Gospel? How am I going to talk to my uncle or my aunt or my sister or my mom or my kids about the Gospel? And we worry about, well, what am I going to say? And what verses am I going to remember? And I'm like, am I going to remember them and will I get anything out of my mouth except you should come to The Chapel sometime?

What about all of that worry that goes into it? What if we started focusing on how you represent the king in the way that you forgive other people? What if that mission starts to become a lot more attainable? Because, man, you weren't offended by that? You should be really ticked off about, I can't believe he said that to you. I can't believe they did that to you, I can't believe he treated you that way. I can't believe he passed you over again for that promotion, I can't believe it. How do you deal with that? How are you processing that? I would be so ticked off if that was me.

And you can say without being flippant, without being dismissive, you can say, "Yeah, I get it. In fact, I would have every right to be as upset as you're saying. And I know that in my old life I would have been, but Jesus has totally transformed me." Now, you call it for what it is, you still work for justice and you still call out injustice. You still call it for what it is. But listen, our tone changes when we realize how much we've been forgiven, that there is nothing that anyone can do to me or say to me or about me that is worse than my sin to God. And that puts it in perspective because if we ever want to look like the king, we need to forgive like the king. So my question to you is, who needs to experience God's forgiveness through you? Who in your life, who have you decided you won't forgive? Whether that's an individual or a group of people or a particular voting block or your neighbor, who is it?

Because this isn't just a story, though that would be enough for us, though that should be enough for us. This is a command. The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul said this in Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you." This is a command for us to obey, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. What if we did that? What if we just started in our church? What if we just started at all of our campuses? What if we just started in our homes? What if we just started in our marriages forgiving one another just as Christ forgave both of you? Because listen, if we take on the posture of that servant and we start to go around head hunting, even within the body. It's possible that we could start trying to collect on a debt that Jesus has already paid for.

And that's not where we want to be. We have come to announce forgiveness from the king that is available to all who would call on him. And if people can't see it in us who they can see, why would they believe, why would they believe our message otherwise? Until we freely forgive like the king, we will never fully look like him. By God's grace, he'll allow us to do it. Let's bow together for a word of prayer. We'll be gone here in just a moment. So if you're here in this room or watching online, just stay where you are as best as you can, particularly so that you're not a distraction to those around you. But ask God's Holy Spirit right now even as I'm asking him, God who in my life needs to experience your forgiveness? And continue and ask him, God, would you give me what I need to demonstrate your forgiving heart in that situation?

With your head still bowed and your eyes still closed if you're here and before we get to talking about the interpersonal relationships and how what Jesus said can revolutionize that, there's a matter of first importance, and that's your relationship with God through Christ. Apart from him, our sin separates us, apart from what Jesus has done, our sin separates us from God, and we're guilty. And there's no excuse, and there's no explaining it away. But what happened in this Matthew 18 story is what God will do one day, and that is he will start to settle accounts. And there are those who will stand on Christ's righteousness alone and say, "Not me, not anything I have, but only Jesus." But there are others who will try to stand before God and say, "Well, hey, I wasn't as bad as the next guy. Well, I might not have been the greatest father, but I wasn't the worst. Well, hey, my sin wasn't really that much, I didn't do that many bad things." And that account will be marked unpaid.

But it doesn't have to be that way because Jesus, God's own son, God in the flesh died on a cross in your place, in my place and took our sin, the sin of humanity on his shoulders. He took the judgment that we deserved, we deserved it, but he took it so that we could be reconciled to God, so that we could be brought near to him. That could be yours, you can be forgiven. So if you're here in this moment with your heads bowed and eyes closed, and you know that your greatest need is Jesus. What it means to follow him is to turn away from your old life of sin and turn to and embrace Jesus. You say, Jonathan, you don't know what I've done. God already does, and God knew it when Jesus went to the cross, he went still. That's how much God loves you.

He wants to know you, he wants to forgive you, he wants to cleanse you, and he wants to give you a brand new life connected to the source of life. And so if you want to know more about what it means to follow Jesus, if you're here at our CrossPoint campus onsite today, when you leave, you'll see in the lobby a table with some Bibles on it. And some prayer partners and pastors are there, and they'd love to talk with you about what it means to follow Christ. If you're watching online, we want to connect with you as well. You can do that by either calling our church office right now today, 716-631-2636 or by going to Let us know because we want to help you, come alongside you on your journey of faith.

So God, I pray that we would walk full of humility recognizing the great debt that we owed and that we could never pay, that we owed you an incalculable debt of our sin. And God, because of your great mercy, because you have forgiven us and set us free, I pray that we would carry your heart forward into every reaction and interaction we have today in this week. That people would see Jesus clearly, Jesus the king in how we live as citizens, servants of your kingdom. And God, may you allow us, may you fill us with your forgiveness so that we can dispense it to others who so desperately need it. In a world that is so calloused and hard-hearted in so many areas and ways, may the people of God in Christ bring refreshments through the forgiveness that Jesus offers. God, we want that for our region and our world. We pray this in Christ's name. Amen.

More From This Series

Part 1

Pastor Wes Aarum Part 1 - Aug 9, 2020

The Two Sons

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Aug 16, 2020
Watching Now

The Unforgiving Servant

Pastor Jonathan Drake Part 3 - Aug 23, 2020

Part 4: Edwin Perez

Edwin Perez Part 4 - Aug 30, 2020

Part 4

Pastor Leroy Wiggins Part 5 - Aug 30, 2020

Part 4: Wes Aarum

Pastor Wes Aarum Part 6 - Aug 30, 2020

Signs & Times

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 7 - Sep 6, 2020

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