MERCY AND GRACE 1
Matthew’s Gospel has the only record of this parable that Jesus told.
“21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he had begun to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But because he couldn’t pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’ 27 The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’
29 “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’ 30 He would not, but went and cast him into prison until he should pay back that which was due. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord called him in and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’”
Essentially, this parable addresses Peter’s query as to one’s response to wrongs done to one’s self (“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?). Peter embraced that one should forgive, but where should be the limit of forgiveness, “until seven times”?
Jesus answered: “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.”
Is Jesus saying that after the seventy times seven times, you are allowed not to forgive anymore? I don’t think so.
For Jesus then told a parable about what relationships are about in the Kingdom of the heavens. It is not about accounting and the number of times, but all about relationships.
“27 The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him and forgave him the debt.”
“32 Then his lord called him in and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’”
This was about loving your neighbour as you love yourself. For me, this parable is also a precursor to his later command to “love one another as I have loved you.”
However, for the purposes of this post, I wish to focus primarily on the elements and meaning of mercy found in this parable.
First, inherent in mercy is moving, dynamic, great compassion – ‘The lord…..being moved with compassion.”
Second, essential to mercy is release – letting go of the bindings of one’s rights and entitlements that the other may be released - let go, freed of liabilities and obligations into freedom (released him).
Third, intrinsic to mercy is forgiveness – for one’s self to no longer take into account, to write off or wipe the slate clean of the debt or wrong. As such, both may start afresh and build a new and free relationship with the other, without the bindings of the unreleased debt or wrong on either party.
God is a merciful God.
It is also written that Jesus taught that the merciful are truly blessed, in that they shall obtain mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
However, for mercy to be given or birthed into being, there must first be a wrong or debt to be forgiven and to be released from. Without a wrong or debt, there is no recourse for mercy to be given or birthed into being.
It follows then, that if the wrong or debt can be fully compensated satisfied or paid, then, mercy does not come into play. There is no place or need for mercy from the person to whom the wrong had been done, as that person would have been fully compensated for the wrong or debt. Mercy is not and cannot be given if full satisfaction or payment is or has been made for the wrong or debt.
Such being the case, if Jesus died at the cross as full payment or complete satisfaction for our sins against God, can it be said that at or from that moment, our sins have been forgiven, and that we have received the mercy of God?
What is there for God to forgive, if the penalty for our sins was paid or assumed fully, exclusively and solely by Jesus at the cross, for us and on our behalf, and God accepted that as full satisfaction for the sins, wrongs and debts that we owe and/or will owe him?
Where do or can we find a merciful God at the cross, being merciful to us, if, there is no longer a wrong or debt to be forgiven, since God would have received from Jesus full satisfaction and payment in respect of our sins, wrongs or debts against God?
 Matthew 18:21-34
 Ten thousand talents (about 300 metric tons of silver) represents an extremely large sum of money, equivalent to about 60,000,000 denarii, where one denarius was typical of one day’s wages for agricultural labor. (Word English Bible Footnote c.) 10,000 talents is the price paid in silver by Haman to King Ahasuerus as a bribe to annihilate the Jews; Cf. Esther 3:9; a talent was worth a lifetime of wages for an average labourer. (International Standard Version Footnote v.)
 Greek σπλαγχνισθεὶς – from root σπλαγχνίζομαι Strong’s 4697 - Literally to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity) – dynamic, moving great compassion
 100 denarii was about one sixtieth of a talent, or about 500 grams (1.1 pounds) of silver. (World English Bible Footnote d.) The denarius was the usual day’s wage for a laborer. International Standard Version Footnote x.
 Matthew 18:21-34 World English Bible
 then word “heaven - οὐρανός” is actually in the plural “heavens - οὐρανῶν”
 Greek σπλαγχνισθεὶς -
 Matthew 5:7 KJV
Darren John Houghton
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