Just before Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant, we have a prime example of someone asking the wrong question. As Peter asks Jesus, “How many times must I forgive my brother?” Jesus is going to tell this story to say to him, “Pete, you’re asking the wrong question!” Well, in the story itself, we actually see another case of asking the wrong question. Have you ever gotten the right answer to the wrong question? Here’s the reality, the right answer to the wrong question is still the wrong answer!
As we see in the story, the servant stands in front of the king with an insurmountable debt and begs for a little more time to pay it off. “Can I have a little more time?” Can you have a little more time for what? Not pay off your debt? This isn’t that different from us. How many times have I told God, “I won’t do that again.” Or, “I’m going to start following Jesus more seriously, once…” you fill in the blank. “God, can I have a little more time?” The servant asks for patience, but he needs pardon. He asks for forbearance, but he needs forgiveness. Do you see the problem? He’s asking for the wrong thing because he thinks that he can surmount the insurmountable. What’s the question you’re asking? Are you bargaining for patience or are you begging for pardon? One approach begins the journey of faith, the other just delays the inevitable.
The amazing thing in this story and to Peter asking the question of “How much do I need to forgive?” is that the king extends unbelievable generosity to his people. Jesus takes his question and says the question you really need to ask is “How can I be a person of forgiveness?” The answer Jesus gives to that question is to consider the generosity of the king who has forgiven you. The depths of God’s forgiveness frees us to forgive others. When we begin to understand no amount of “patience” will suffice, we humbly approach the throne of grace and beg forgiveness. The good news for us is, our debt? Jesus paid it all. We need forgiveness, not forbearance. As we’ll see throughout this week, asking the right question is just the start of the journey, how we’re transformed by the King’s amazing grace tells the rest.
High School Pastor