In Matt. 18:21-35 it seems that Peter has been hurt by his brother. He asks Jesus how many times he should forgive him. (Is this his brother Andrew? Because family is where some of the deepest hurts occur). But, of course it could be anyone close. Peter suggests 7 times is enough. But Jesus answers - not 7 times but 77 times. By definition, you cannot keep count of mercy. You have to keep going. The cycle has to be broken because through Jesus all the hurts against God have been forgiven. Where there is no mercy we have to break the chain with love. Countless times. Why should I be the one who has to keep showing mercy? Why should I care?
Two school boys grew up to have completely different lives. One, a born leader and money-maker, an entrepreneur whose inventive mind was always seeming to come up with hugely popular ideas made millions, lived in style. The other failed at everything he did and lived on the borderline. A really sad story of things not working out well. Obviously, they lived in different worlds but the poor man was so desperate at a particularly needy time that he threw himself on his friend’s mercy and asked for a small loan about 250 pounds. 'I’ll pay it back', he promised.
One day the wealthy man received a brown enveloped marked Private: HMRC Inside were several sheets of paper and he couldn’t believe his eyes. It said that he had been subject to a searching audit and that he now owed 3,243,765 and 3 pence. In panic he visited the tax inspector and found it was true. He was in deep trouble. Living to the maximum he would have to lose everything to pay the debt and even that wouldn’t cover it. He appealed to a tribunal. Please please give me a chance to pay off the debt. Please be patient with me. And to his utter amazement the tribunal had mercy and more than he could ever have expected it cancelled the debt. Social media buzzed. Tictoc went frantic.
Back home he bumped into the school friend who still hadn’t paid back a penny. The forgiven man should have been in the best of moods, but he turned, and actually grabbed and shook this poor man. Dropping to his knees the poor man pleaded Please, please give a chance to pay off the debt. Please be patient with me. But the other man refused. It wasn’t long before social media picked this story up…and people were livid. Victimization they called it. Vicious, cold hearted mean small mindedness. The story went viral. The tribunal was reconvened. We canceled your debt because you begged us. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on this man as we had on you. Your debt is reinstated which meant immediate imprisonment because he had forfeited the freedom he had received. He would remain there until all of the debt was paid.
That is another way of telling Matt. 18: 21-35. Oh exaggeration you say. Well, I admit the idea of the tax authority letting you off a big debt does stretch imagination but Jesus deliberately chose figures to stun us. 10,000 talents was millions sterling. The annual taxes of all the province of Palestine only amounted to less than 1000 talents. Herod’s revenue was only 900 talents. The other debt was a few pounds. The first debt was impossible to pay. Quite impossible. The man may fall on his knees. Be patient with me. Have mercy. It couldn’t happen. The second debt quite possible to pay but it is rejected. There's a point Jesus is making!........