The Parable of the Unmerciful, Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21 – 35). Bible Lesson / Teen Bible Lesson
The sacrifice of Jesus pays for the sins we have committed, no matter what they are (Romans 3:21 – 26). But does it also apply to crime and lawlessness such as murder, robbery, treason, rape and terrorism? Could God truly forgive someone who causes such pain? Could He expect us to forgive such a person if they truly came to Christ? If he or she never came to Christ?
In Matthew 18: 21, the apostle Peter asks Jesus a question about forgiveness. Like most of us, Peter wondered about the limits of forgiveness. Examine Jesus’ answer and then answer the 17 questions that follow. . .
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
So the servantfell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’
So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt.
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.
Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’
And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
– Matthew 18:21 – 35 (English Standard Version)
The Debt to the Master (verses 23 – 27)
1. How much was this debt?
2. A talent of silver was worth about 6,000 denarii. (A denarius was a day’s wage for the average working man.) How many days would the servant have had to work for the master to pay off the debt? How many years? How many lifetimes?
3. What is represented by the servant’s debt to the master in this parable?
4. What principle can we learn from these verses?
The Debt to the Second Servant (verses 28 – 34)
5. How much was the debt?
6. Estimating the modern value of a denarius as $100, how much was this debt?
7. Why was the first servant’s response to the debt reasonable?
8. Why was the response wrong, nevertheless?
9. What is represented by the second servant’s debt in this parable?
10. What principle can we learn from these verses?
11. What will happen to our previously forgiven sins if we refuse to forgive another?
12. Do we forgive others so God will forgive us? Or does God forgive us so that we will have a forgiving attitude? Explain.
Multiple Choice Application Questions
13. What is hardest for you?
- forgiving again and again
- not punishing those who hurt me
- forgiving from my heart – I can say the words but I don’t feel them
- wondering how I can forgive without encouraging irresponsibility
14. What have you found helpful in dealing with strained relationships?
- being up front with the person
- ignoring it and hoping for the best
- asking someone else to mediate
- writing out my feelings
- breaking off the relationship
15. What is the most important thing you have needed (or need now) to be able to forgive “from your heart”?
- talking through my pain
- receiving counseling
- appreciating God’s forgiving me
- seeing the other person as human and hurting himself/herself
- foregoing the pleasure of self-pity
16. Which character in the parable do you relate to most?
- first servant – I’m forgiven by God but still struggling to let go of bitterness
- second servant – I’m not perfect but I don’t deserve this treatment
- the master – I have gone to great lengths to be merciful to someone
17. What do you need to do to find the freedom that forgiveness brings?
- talk to the person who hurt me
- tell that person I’ve forgiven them
- hold that person accountable for the consequences of their actions
- look for ways to show kindness to that person
- ask God for strength
- ask forgiveness for my wrongs