Matthew 20:1-16 God's Generous Grace

Matthew 18:21-35 The Parable of Forgiveness

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 Matthew 18:21-35 The Parable of Forgiveness


Dear friends in Christ,

I extend a warm and heartfelt welcome to every one of you as we gather for this enriching time of Bible study. It is a joy to come together as a community of believers to dive deep into the Word of God and explore the profound teachings of Jesus. Today, we delve into the parable of forgiveness found in Matthew 18:21-35, a passage that holds invaluable lessons about Christian discipleship and spiritual growth. May the Holy Spirit guide us in our study and open our hearts to the transformative power of God’s Word.


In today’s study, we will explore the story that Jesus shared with His disciples when Peter asked Him about forgiveness. This parable reveals a profound truth about God’s mercy, our need for forgiveness, and the transformation that takes place in the lives of those who truly grasp the concept of grace. As we unpack this passage, we will discover the essence of Christian discipleship and the vital role forgiveness plays in our spiritual growth.


Forgiveness and Mercy:

  • Peter’s question about forgiveness.
  • Jesus’ response: Forgiving not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
  • The parable of the king and his servant.

The Enormity of Our Debt:

  • The staggering debt owed by the servant.
  • The king’s compassion and forgiveness.

The Challenge of Forgiveness:

  • The unforgiving spirit of the forgiven servant.
  • The consequences of unforgiveness.
  • The lesson for us: Forgive from the heart.

Scripture: Matthew 18:21-35

Peters Question on Forgiveness (Matthew 18:21)

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?”

Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18:22-27)

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wants to settle accounts with his servants.
24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him.
25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had to be sold to repay the debt.
26 At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt, and let him go.

The Unmerciful Servant’s Lack of Mercy (Matthew 18:31-35)

28 But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.
31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.
33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’
34 In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


Forgiveness and Mercy:

Explanation: Peter’s question about forgiveness arises from his sincere desire to understand the extent to which he should forgive those who have wronged him. Jesus responds with the powerful teaching that forgiveness should be offered not merely seven times but seventy-seven times, emphasizing the limitless nature of God’s mercy.

Reflection: In our journey of Christian discipleship, forgiveness is a foundational principle. Jesus’ response reminds us that as followers of Christ, our forgiveness should know no bounds. This is not an easy task, but it is essential for our spiritual growth. It challenges us to let go of grudges and offer forgiveness even when it seems difficult.

Commentary: Christian discipleship involves embracing the virtue of mercy. As we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we must remember that His forgiveness towards us is immeasurable. This should inspire us to extend the same forgiveness to others, fostering spiritual growth through the practice of mercy.

Multiple Choice Q&A:
Question: According to Jesus, how many times should we forgive someone who wrongs us?
A) Seven times
B) Seventy times
C) Seventy-seven times
D) A hundred times
Personal Reflection: How can you practice limitless forgiveness in your daily life as a disciple of Christ?

The Enormity of Our Debt:

Explanation: The parable illustrates the vast debt owed by the servant to the king. It emphasizes the incredible magnitude of our sins and shortcomings in the eyes of God. Despite the insurmountable debt, the king shows great compassion and forgives the servant.

Reflection: Our debt to God, in terms of our sins, is immeasurable. Yet, God’s grace is boundless, and He forgives us when we come to Him with contrite hearts. This parable reminds us of the depth of God’s love and forgiveness.

Commentary: Christian discipleship calls us to acknowledge the enormity of our own forgiven debts and approach God with humility. Spiritual growth occurs as we understand the depth of God’s grace and share that grace with others.

Multiple Choice Q&A:
Question: How does the king in the parable respond to the servant’s enormous debt?
A) He demands immediate payment.
B) He shows great compassion and forgives the debt.
C) He increases the servant’s debt.
D) He banishes the servant from his presence.
Personal Reflection: How does understanding the magnitude of your forgiven debts impact your relationship with God and your ability to forgive others?

The Challenge of Forgiveness:

Explanation: The forgiven servant, despite receiving immense mercy from the king, refuses to extend the same forgiveness to a fellow servant who owes him a relatively small sum. His lack of mercy leads to dire consequences for himself.

Reflection: This part of the parable highlights the challenge of forgiveness. It’s easy to accept God’s forgiveness, but sometimes we struggle to forgive others, even for minor offenses. Unforgiveness can weigh us down spiritually.

Commentary: Christian discipleship involves grappling with the challenge of forgiveness. We must recognize that harboring unforgiveness hinders our spiritual growth and peace. As we extend the grace we’ve received to others, we deepen our discipleship journey.

Multiple Choice Q&A:
Question: What happens to the servant who refuses to forgive his fellow servant?
A) He is rewarded by the king.
B) He is commended for his honesty.
C) He is thrown into prison.
D) He is given more time to repay the debt.
Personal Reflection: In what ways has unforgiveness hindered your spiritual growth, and how can you overcome this challenge as a disciple of Christ?

In Closing:

Commentary: In closing, this powerful passage reminds us that forgiveness is at the core of Christian discipleship and spiritual growth. God’s mercy toward us is immeasurable, and He calls us to extend the same mercy to others. As we journey in faith, let us not forget the profound lesson of this parable: that we are forgiven much and, in turn, should forgive much. May we embrace forgiveness as a way of life, fostering spiritual growth and reflecting the love of Christ to the world.

Final Question Multiple Choice Q&A:
Question: What is the core message of the parable of forgiveness in Matthew 18:21-35?
A) Forgiveness is not necessary.
B) God’s forgiveness has limits.
C) Forgiveness is central to Christian discipleship.
D) Forgiveness is only for certain people.
Personal Reflection: How can you actively practice forgiveness as a central aspect of your Christian discipleship journey?

Closing Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you with hearts filled with gratitude for the forgiveness and mercy you have shown us. As we have explored the parable of forgiveness today, we are reminded of the boundless nature of your love and grace. Help us, O Lord, to be true disciples, extending forgiveness to others as generously as you have forgiven us. Grant us the courage to invite others into this transformative journey of faith and forgiveness. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, we pray. Amen.

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