unmerciful servantThe Gospel lesson for today is the story of the guy who is forgiven a huge debt by his King and when he finds someone who owes a him a much smaller debt begins to choke him and demand him to pay up.  The fellow servants are so incensed they rat their fellow servant out to the King who is so angry he throws him into prison until he pays every last penny which he never can so…..

You can read about this parable in Matthew 18:21-35

What I find interesting here is that being unforgiving is a concern for the community of believers, the church, the fellow servants.  We as the body of Christ are so wrapped up in the forgiveness of God by which we live and move and have our being that this unforgiving attitude among ourselves is a matter of great concern and care.  Here are Luther’s’ comments on the end of the parable when the forgiven man is punished.

 For as often as God has afflicted the people with severe punishment, he previously set up a great light; as when he led the Jews out of their country into captivity, he first brought forth the pious king Josiah, who again restored the law in order to reform the people; but when they again fell away, God punished them as they deserved. So also when he wished to overthrow the Egyptians, he sent Moses and Aaron to preach and enlighten them, Exodus 4:14. Again, when he wished to destroy the world with the flood, he raised up the patriarch Noah, Genesis 6, and 7. But when the people would not believe and only grew worse, terrible punishment followed. So it was with the five cities; Sodom and Gomorrah with the rest were punished, because they would not hear pious Lot, Genesis 19.

Therefore such terrible punishments will also now come upon those who hear the Gospel and do not receive it. So this servant in the Gospel is cast off, and must pay what he owes. This means, that he must endure the pain and consequences. But he who endures the pain for the debt, will never be saved. For to sin belongs death, and when one dies he dies forever, and there is no more help nor salvation for him. Therefore let us receive these things as a warning; those, however, who are hardened and will not hear, will guard against it.

33. This is an elegant, comfortable Gospel, and is sweet to the afflicted conscience, because it contains nothing but forgiveness of sins. But for stubborn heads and hardened hearts it is a terrible sentence, and particularly so because this servant is not a heathen, but belongs to those under the Gospel, who held the faith. For as the Lord has mercy on him and forgives him what he had done, he must without doubt be a Christian.

Hence this is not a punishment for the heathen, neither for the common crowd who hear the Gospel with the external ear, and have it on their tongue, but do not live according to it. Thus we have the sum of this Gospel.

34. What further the sophists are accustomed here to discuss, whether the sins will come back that were once forgiven, I let pass. For they do not know what forgiveness of sin is, and think it is something that sticks in the heart and lies still there, whereas it is the whole kingdom of Christ, which lasts forever without end. For as the sun shines and gives light none the less, although I close my eyes, so this mercy seat or forgiveness of sins stands forever, though I fall. And as I see the sun again as soon as I open my eyes, so I have the forgiveness of sins again when I look up and again come to Christ. Therefore we must not make forgiveness so narrow, as the fools dream. This is said on to-day’s Gospel.