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Matthew 18:21-35: How Often Shall I Forgive?

Posted by adventbiblestudy on April 29, 2012


Matthew 18:21-35 MKJV Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times? (22) Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven. (23) Therefore the kingdom of Heaven has been compared to a certain king who desired to make an accounting with his servants. (24) And when he had begun to count, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. (25) But as he had nothing to pay, his lord commanded that he, and his wife and children, and all that he had, be sold, and payment be made. (26) Then the servant fell down and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me and I will pay you all. (27) Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. (28) But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe. (29) And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, Have patience with me and I will pay you all. (30) And he would not, but went and cast him into prison until he should pay the debt. (31) So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry. And they came and told their lord all that was done. (32) Then his lord, after he had called him, said to him, O wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. (33) Should you not also have pitied your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you? (34) And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to him. (35) So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also to you, unless each one of you from your hearts forgive his brother their trespasses.

 

 

King Ethan faced an enormous task. Political pressures were mounting. The occupation by Rome was draining all his resources. He didn’t have the heart to tax his people, already under the heavy yoke of Rome. The war resulted in damage to the vast majority of crops and orchards. Food was scarce and expensive. A large number of people who had worked the fields were either slain, or sold into slavery in distant lands. Rome now demanded a yearly ransom, and it was due in a few weeks. The price was high, and king Ethan shuttered at the thought of what may happen if it was not paid on time.

 

Ozem produced household items from bronze. Before the war, he went to the king with an idea. To increase production and cut costs, Ozem introduced a plan to purchase the local copper mine. This would guarantee a steady flow of raw materials at a substantial savings. The king approved of the plan and loaned Ozem ten thousand talents to complete the investment.

 

For months the mine produced much more copper than expected. Occasionally a vein of silver added to the income. Ozem considered this the best investment he had ever made. Then the invasion came. A number of Roman legions seemed to appear out of no where. No one had time to prepare. They heard stories of Roman armies on a conquest, but considered themselves too powerful and too distant for Rome to consider any type of military action. After all, Rome had sent ambassadors to negotiate trade routes and tariffs. This gave them the impression they were safe for a time.

 

The fall was quick a decisive. The battle lasted only a few days. Ozem knew the Roman soldiers would slaughter people outside the gates of the city until the supply of victims was exhausted, or the king negotiated a surrender. King Ethan consulted with his advisors who felt an open field attack was the only other option. The plan turned out to be a disaster.

 

Ozem recognized an opportunity. He knew the Roman legions were made up of men from every region, and they were arriving with fresh money. He quickly increased production, adding the most popular idols to his list of cast subjects. Business boomed. Profits shot up. Usually with the lack of labor, wages would increase. Ozem quickly learned to use Rome’s suppressive power to deal with labor issues.

 

For months everything seemed to be going fine. Then one day a report came from the mine. Three days and not a single nugget of copper could be found. Ozem was beside himself. He began beating his servants shouting, “this could not be true. You are being lazy. Get to work now! Find me my copper!” There was nothing anyone could do to make the mine produce enough copper to fashion so much as a spoon. Ozem tried working his servants death. Utter failure was on the horizon.

 

With the ransom deadline looming, king Ethan called a meeting of his closest advisers. There was no need to outline the issue, they all knew the problem plaguing the kingdom. King Ethan got right to the point, “how as we going to raise the money? Lives are at stake, and we need to find the solution.” Hezron, the king’s recorder had been studying the situation for some time. He offered a plan. “I have a list of people who have borrowed money from the royal treasury. I suggest we open these accounts, tally the interest due and attempt to collect from those who have benefited from the king’s generosity.” The king granted Hezron authority to open the books and begin processing the of collection debts.

 

Over the following weeks Ozem heard stories of neighbors and business associates appearing before the king. He looked on the situation lightly, thinking he was beyond judgment from the king. In his opinion, the king should be thankful for the advice and wisdom he had shared in the past. As soon as Ozem’s confidence convinced him he had no responsibility to pay his debt, the king’s guards appeared at the door, handing him an order to appear before the king.

 

Ozem was totally unprepared. Lack of production from the mine consumed his time. Other, more expensive arrangements had to be made to procure materials, which now had to be delivered by caravan. This proved more expensive than expected. All trade routes were under Roman rule. Major routes were heavily taxed. To reduce expenses, Ozem had to constantly reroute the caravans. This proved so time consuming, he did not have the time to calculate the loss he was selling at. The majority of his sales came from Roman soldiers, who agreed to a price in advance. Ozem knew he had no chance of renegotiating prices.

 

The following day Ozem found himself before the king. Hezron read the account. “This man had borrowed ten thousand talents to purchase a copper mine two years ago.” King Ethan asked, “how do you intend to pay?” Ozem began to explain to the king. “I had no idea the mine would stop producing after I took control. It is not my fault.” The king asked, “are you still producing bronze ware?” Ozem explained, “that is the problem. After the invasion I accepted a number of orders. We already agreed to prices. Taxes have increased the price I pay for materials now imported by caravan. I have been selling at a loss for some months now.” Ethan inquired, “who are your customers?” Ozem felt uncomfortable. He knew his fate depended on his answer. “Foreigners.” King Ethan leaned forward on his throne, staring at Ozem he asked, “the Romans?” Ozem seemed to loose his voice as his neck and throat tightened. “They came to me and demanded I provide them with what they wanted.” King Ethan stood up in a rage. “Do you think your king is unaware of what is happening in his kingdom? I know you pursued Romans from every land. You searched for information on the shape, form, and powers of each idol you offer them. You filled the Romans with the idea your craftsmanship added greater power to the idols.” Sitting down the king took a moment to compose himself. He turned to Ozem asking, “how do you plan on paying your debt?” Hanging his head low, Ozem answered, “I have nothing to pay.”

 

Once again king Ethan turned to one side. Stroking his beard, the court waited for his decision. To Ozem it seemed like an eternity. Finally the king faced the accused and commanded, “since he likes Roman company so much, take him, his wife and children and sell them to pay the debt.” The unexpected sentence was more than Ozem could bear. He cast himself to the ground pleading for forgiveness, “have patience with me and I will pay you all.”

 

King Ethan had judged hundreds of cases over the previous days. No case compared to this. He sent Ozem away while he discussed the facts with his advisors. Ozem stood in the outer hall for more than an hour. During that time he promised himself he would do anything if the king would show him mercy. He could not face the life of a slave. This made him think of the way he treated his servants in the past. He promised he would change. He would learn to treat them with respect.

 

Finally Hezron emerged from the court. “This is what the king has proposed. All your land, your home, and business are now the property of the king. All debts owed to you are now owed to the king. You will make an account and deliver it to the king within three days. In exchange, your debt is forgiven. You, your wife and children are free. You will continue to operate your business, giving a tenth to the king. Do you understand?” Ozem answered, “yes,” and signed the contract. Hezron warned him, “from this day forward you will operate your business in a manner fit to honor your king. Make every decision as if you are standing in the court before the king.”

 

Ozem walked from the court with a heavy heart. He wondered what he would do for money. As he walked along the road he tried to remember the people who owed money to him. He thought to himself, the king does not have any idea who owes me money, or how much. If I collect the debts before I supply the list, he will never know. On the way home he passed the house of one of his friends who owed him a hundred denarii. He knocked on his door. As soon as it opened Ozem lunged forward. Taking him by the throat Ozem demanded payment at once. The man fell to his knees begging for time. “I can pay you in two or three days. Please give me some time.”

 

A group of Roman guards passing by came to investigate. Ozem did not want to give the man a chance to tell anyone he tried to collect the debt. He demanded they immediately cast him into prison until he paid the debt. The man’s neighbor saw the entire event and felt very depressed. He could not bear to see his neighbor cast into prison for such a minor debt. He went to the king for help.

 

After hearing the story king Ethan sent his guards to bring Ozem back to court. As soon as he appeared, the king said, “O wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have pitied your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you? Because you had no pity on him, I will show you no pity.” Without giving Ozem the opportunity to respond he commanded, “throw this man in prison until his debt if paid in full.”

 

As Ozem left the court, the Roman governor entered. King Ethan explained, “I called you here to discuss the fate of a man your guards had just arrested for a debt. I want to inform you, this man owes a debt to no one but me, and his debt has been forgiven. Hereon will give you the details.”

 

 

“Peter, why won’t you tell me what happened on that mountain? You, James, and John have been acting strangly since that day. You are all walking around like some sort of peacocks. Strutting around like you are better than us. You are not as vocal as John and his brother, but I know you. You are holding it in. What are you doing, waiting for John and James to make a mistake before you make your move?” By the look on Peter’s face, Andrew could tell he was getting angry. Peter reached his limit. He answered Andrew. “For the seventh time, I cannot tell you what we saw. We promised Jesus not to tell you.” Peter saw an opening. Thinking this may help his cause he suggested, “have you asked James and John what they saw?” Andrew was shocked he could not get the answer from his own brother. He suspected Peter had something to gain if James or John revealed the secret. He knew his brother was waiting to see them make a mistake so he could gain favor with Jesus.

 

Feeling a bit angry over his disagreement with Andrew, Peter tried to justify his actions. He did such a good job of justifying himself in his own mind, he decided to go to Jesus for verification. He went to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of Heaven has been compared to a certain king who desired to make an accounting with his servants…”

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