Peter questioned how many times he should forgive after he is sinned against. Jesus gave his famous reply to Peter’s question of not the seven times Peter speculated, but seven times seventy. Then he told the perfect story of the guy who was forgiven this huge debt and went out and found someone who owed him money, grabbed and choked him, and had him thrown into prison because he couldn’t pay. This story struck me in a new way.
I see this as an illustration of access. One person in the story is a good example of open access to redemption and restoration. Another person in the story is a bad example of closed access. The kicker, though, is the one who was given open access is the one who then closed access to someone else.
It says the servant owed his master 10,000 talents. I heard someone say that one talent was the equivalent of 13 years’ salary. So the servant owed the master the equivalency of 130,000 years of work! Can you imagine having a debt that huge hanging over your head? Then, can you imagine someone canceling the debt and letting you go? What kind of person would you be? How would that affect your outlook on life? The image that comes to my mind is the old man who was “high as a kite” in the Mary Poppins movie. I could not conceive of anything getting him down.
We know this guy was followed after his master let him go. I think the ones that followed after him just wanted to see how a guy would act that had experienced such a reversal of fortunes. What would that kind of overwhelming joy look like? He was like a man in a cell with the walls caving in, who suddenly found an access panel that was not only a way of escape, but opened into an endless white beach and crystal blue waters.
Can you imagine the horror of the other servants when they saw they way the wicked servant acted? Instead of offering access to the same freedom and forgiveness, he shut him down. The other guy owed the servant a fraction of that amount (100 days’ wage compared to 130,000 years!). The man begged. The text says, “But he refused.”
The logical response to the debt, the death sentence really, that was once hanging over our head, that was then removed once being given access and accepting the message of salvation in Jesus, should be overwhelming joy that overflows to others.