Doug Batchelor - Receiving and Sharing Forgiveness
Everybody knows that Jesus died for our sins to provide forgiveness that we might have hope of everlasting life and share in eternity. But part of that forgiveness not only means that we receive it, it means that we share it with others. I want to read, most of us know the Lord's Prayer, but I'm going to read the last section of this in Matthew chapter 6 starting with verse 12. "And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." In Luke it says, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. For if you, verse 14, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, then neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
So, we've learned about seeing the Lord, seeing Him in His goodness, His holiness, we then, through the goodness of God, we see ourselves by contrast and we repent, we confess, we receive the forgiveness he offers. Pastor Doug, are you saying that the Bible teaches that before God can forgive us, we must first forgive everybody else? I'm not going to answer that right away, I'm going to let Jesus answer by going to a parable. Most of you know this, you find it in Matthew chapter 18. It's only in Matthew 18, you don't find this exact parable in Luke, or John, or Mark. And I'm going to start with verse 21. Now, Jesus is speaking with Peter. A lot of the chapter talks about relationships with your fellow man. "And Peter came to him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'"
Now, Peter thought he was being unusually generous when he said that, because some of the religious leaders at that time, they had a belief that you forgive a person maybe three times, kind of like baseball, you know, sin were these big calamities. But after you get to three, then there's no more forgiveness. And so, Peter thought, "Well, Jesus is so merciful, I'm going to double it and add one for good measure and say seven, nice Bible number." "Lord, how often shall I forgive my brother?" Not even an enemy, your brother. And he said, "Seven times?" He thought maybe Jesus would say, "Peter, you finally get the message." But instead, Christ said to him, "I do not say unto you seven times, but seventy times seven." Make a note of that number.
And then Jesus goes on and He shares a parable. "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he should be sold with his wife and his children and all that he had and payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him the debt.
But that servant went out and he found one of his fellow servants who owed him 100 denarii And he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, and said, 'Pay me what you owe.' So, his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will pay you all,' and he would not. But he went and he threw him into prison until he should pay the debt.
So, when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved. And they came and they told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, he said to him, 'You wicked servant. I forgave you all that debt because you begged me, because you asked me. Should you not have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due him. So, my Heavenly father also will do to each of you if you from his heart does not forgive his brother his trespasses."
Well, the Lord wants us clearly to forgive others, but who does the first forgiving in this story? The king does. Now, let's back up, and I'm going to use some alliterations and try and teach six main points from this very important lesson on receiving and passing on forgiveness, and how much the two of them go together, and it is connected with our receiving the Holy Spirit.
Alright, first of all, the magnitude of the debt. It says that he's brought in and he's somehow been squandering the king's money. He was in some position where he had the king's combination two his safe or the bank book, or the king's credit card, and he was on a spending spree. Maybe he had a gambling problem. We don't know what the issue was, but somehow he racked up an unbelievable debt.
Now, just to give you an idea how big a number this is, he says 10,000 talents. So, let's just assume they're talents of silver. If you go back to the time of Christ, the annual tribute of Judea, Samaria, Idumea around this time was only 600 talents, the tribute they paid to Rome. Here this man owes 10,000 talents of the king's money. The only other time you find that number, 10,000 talents, and by the way, that's where we get the word "myriad." It was the highest number there in Greek.
It's interesting that was the amount that Haman offered to pay. You read in the book of Esther chapter 3 verse 9, Haman said, "I will give 10,000 talents of silver into the king's treasury if you will exterminate these enemies," the Jews. And so, that debt, Jesus draws from these Bible stories to remind us this represents the burden of sin that is crushing us out. It's like a bounty on our heads that's being paid for our destruction. And so, 10,000 talents, and compared to the denarii, the denarii, you know, that was a reasonable debt, it's only 100 denarii. Ten-thousand talents is 600,000 times as large as what this fellow servant owed the king's servant.
And so, you notice the magnitude of the debt this man has. He has squandered a fabulous amount, and I don't know, you know, the price of silver and gold goes up, a talent is a weight, a weight of around 56 pounds. That's the small side of what a talent is, all the way up to 75 pounds. And if you've got 10,000 times 75 pounds of silver, you can realize this is an astronomical number, let alone if it was gold. So, the number is, like, just a far out number. That is the number that represents our sins against God. So, this man comes to the king and he says, "I can't pay." And the king is moved. You can read it.
Now we're going to talk about the mercy of the king. You look in Matthew chapter 18 verse 27, "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, and he released him and he forgave him the debt."
Now, there's a difference between pity and compassion. They're both something that represents pathos and feeling for another, but compassion is really, it means with pathos, and typically in our dictionary, it means that you not only behold a person's suffering, it's not only that you empathize with them, you do something about it. If I see a person get a flat tire in rush hour and they pull off, I might say, "Oh, Lord, help," them that's pity. But if I pull over and help them change the tire, that's compassion.
So, did Jesus have pity on us, or did he have compassion? Did he just looked down and say the human race is in a lot of trouble down there, it's so sad, or did he come down and do something about it? The king was moved with compassion. He forgave the debt. So, who ends up suffering for this man's irresponsibility? The king does. He shows him mercy. He freely forgives the debt. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." What a wonderful promise. Psalm 103:17, "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, his righteousness to the children's children."
God's mercy is everlasting. He's a merciful king. He's willing to forgive whatever your sins might be. So, we see the mercy, and the love, and the pity of the king, how much he is willing to forgive us, but now I want you to notice it's not pleasant, the meanness of the servant. This character is just, he is harsh, he is hardhearted. Now, if I had owed the king 10,000 talents, obviously he knew he owed that money, and if you owe the king that much money, you know a judgment day is coming. You're probably a little apprehensive about that. And so, he kept thinking about this burden. He kept thinking that judgment day was coming.
There's going to be an accounting, and if nothing else, this story reminds us there is a judgment day. There's an accounting that happens. I would be so relieved when I came in before the king, I mean, the man, he had to be feeling terrible. The Bible tells us that the king was going to sell his family, his wife, his children, all of his property, and, you know, the wife is crying as she's being taken off to be sold, maybe part of someone's household or harem, and the children are being taken off to be sold as slaves, and his stuff that he bought with the king's credit card is being pulled out of his home to be sold at a royal garage sale.
And the man falls down crying, pleading the king, "Please forgive me, I will pay it all back." He's never going to pay it all back, the king knows that, but the king is moved with compassion, he forgives him. If that happened to me, I would have gone, I would've kissed the king's feet, I would have gone out of there, I would've been so happy I would've been skipping and rejoicing, and I would've been smiling and loving everybody. But all this guy can think of is someone that owes him 100 denarii. He's just been forgiven millions, and millions, billions of dollars, and he goes and he takes a friend by the throat.
Now, let's read it again. Matthew 18:28, "But that same servant went out, he found his fellow servant, and he laid hands on him, and he took him by the throat." That's pretty serious, saying, "Pay me what you owe." "So, his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and he begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will pay you all.'" Now, when he said to the king, "Have patience with me and I'm going to pay you your 10,000 talents," no way that's ever going to happen, he can't do it. But if someone owes him 100 denarii, you know, in 24 hours, you could probably find a creative way to get that money, an honest way, and pay it back. But he takes him by the throat. That's pretty heavy handed, "Pay me what you owe." His fellow servant says, "Have patience with me." Same thing he says to the king, and he would not have mercy, not even for that petty amount. But he went and he threw him in prison that he should be tortured for 100 denarii.
See, in Bible times, if you owed money, you couldn't pay, they put you in prison, and they had a debtor's prison where you could actually be tortured, they were called tormenters. That somehow had a price list and on the wall, and if you owed, you know, ten denarii, then it was one lash, and if it was 100 denarii, it was ten lashes, or, you know, six hours on the rack. I'm not sure how they measured out all their punishment. I sure wouldn't want to go to a debtor's prison owing 10,000 talents.
This man had just been forgiven this incredible punishment, and he now punishes his brother for this petty amount. What is this dealing with? The sun is about 93 million miles from the earth. That represents how much God is willing to forgive us. I hear it takes about, light travels at 186,000 miles a second. It takes about eight minutes for the light of the sun to reach the earth. That's how far away it is. But our forgiveness to each other is like one foot.
God is willing to forgive us the distance between the earth and the sun, and we sometimes will not forgive each other one foot. This is what the moral of the story is. Christ is saying look how much I'm willing to forgive you. What right do you have to be bitter and unforgiving with your fellow servants, when I have so freely forgiven you? And we need to have a change of heart.
When we see how much God is willing to forgive us, shouldn't we be willing to forgive each other? And I know there's people out there that are thinking right now, "Well Pastor Doug though, if you only knew what they did to me you'd understand that this is an exception. Most things you can forgive, you know, the little offenses, but this person, what they did was just plain old wicked, and how can I ever forgive that?" You need to.
And I have a theory that if people really spend time at the foot of the cross looking at Jesus dying and suffering for their sins, it makes it a lot easier for us to forgive the other sins. When you see, you know, this part of the cross is longer than this part of the cross. Our sins are much bigger than our sins against God and our sins against each other.
I remember hearing a story years ago before Louis Pasteur discovered the cure for rabies. A man in France had been bitten by a rabid dog, and when the doctor finally told him I've got bad news, we tested the dog, and it's behaving like it has rabies, which means that you're going to probably die in a few days, the man asked the doctor for a pen and a piece of paper, and he began to vigorously write. And the doctor said, look, you've got a few days, take your time. If you're going to write out your will, you want to think, make good decisions. He said I'm not writing out my will, he said I'm making a list of everybody I'm going to bite before I die.
And this is the way some people are. It's like the devil, he's come down with great wrath, because he knows his time is short, he wants to take as many people with him as he can. And believe it or not, there are some Christians that are vengeful, and that is not the spirit of Christ. So, now we're going to talk about the malice of vengeance.
You know, the Bible makes one thing clear, that if we don't forgive others, we cannot be forgiven. That vengeance tends to backfire. You get what you give. Proverbs 24 verse 17, "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him." Proverbs 26:27, "Whoever digs a pit will fall in it." Now, what does that mean? Sometimes they used to try to trap a person or herd a person. They'd dig a pit and they put spikes in it, so that they could wound their enemy. And it says, "If you dig a pit, you will fall in it, and whoever rolls a stone will have it roll back on them." Trying to roll a stone down a cliff on your enemy, you might find that it rocks the wrong direction and it rolls back on you.
If you know your Bible, you know the story of Esther. And the scoundrel and that story is a man named Haman. And he builds a gallows 50 cubits high to hang. Now, Haman is the one who wanted to give 10,000 talents to kill all the Jews. He built a gallows 50 cubits high to hang Mordecai, the hero of the story. In the end of the story, Mordecai gets Haman's position, and Haman gets the gallows that he built for Mordecai. In your talking about your neighbor, speaking badly about your neighbor, being bitter and unforgiving towards your neighbor, you're really condemning yourself.
The Bible is so clear with what judgment you judge you will be judged. So, part of our embracing God's forgiveness is we then need to be willing to pass it on. If we are not willing to pass on his forgiveness, it evaporates in our own lives. We really need to appreciate what the Lord has paid, the amount of the debt that we might be forgiven.
Let me give you another story in the Bible that helps illustrate this, and it's not in my notes, the Lord reminded me. When Mary Magdalene washes Jesus's feet, she's called Mary of Bethany in this story, Simon the leper, he begins to complain. And he thinks within himself, "If this man, Jesus, was a prophet, he'd know who and what manner of woman this is that's touching him, because she's a sinner." Jesus tells a parable to Simon. He says, Simon, I've got something to say. He says say on, master. So, there's a certain man that had two debtors, one owed 50 pence, one owed 500. Neither of them could pay, so he freely forgave them both. Which of them do you think will love him more? Simon said, well, I suppose the one who is forgiven more.
He said you've rightly judged. He said I want you to look at this woman. When I came into your house, you did not greet me with a kiss, but she's kissing my feet. You did not wash my feet, but she's washing my feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. And he said her sins, which are many, are forgiven. "For to whom much is forgiven, the same loves much."
I've got a theory. The reason that a lot of Christians do not appreciate the forgiveness of Jesus is because they don't know how much they have been forgiven. "He who is forgiven much loves much." Jesus is not saying you've got to go out there and be an exceptionally bad sinner, and then repent, and then you're going to love your neighbor. He's saying you need to know what a big sinner you already are. No matter if there was anyone else in the world who had ever sinned, Jesus would have to go through what he went through on the cross for you, your sins are that big.
Sometimes we say, "Well, Jesus died for the sins of the whole world," and we figure we'll mitigate the guilt by doing that, spread it around a little bit. And no, Jesus died for your sins, yes, the sins of the whole world, but you've got to take it and make it personal. He went through everything he went through just for you. If we understand the magnitude of that 10,000 talents, then we appreciate how much he's forgiven us and we're willing to forgive others instead of trying to extract vengeance on them.
So, we've talked about vengeance, the malice of vengeance, now we're going to talk about the model of Christ. What is the challenge? What is the command of Jesus about our enemies when it comes to forgiveness? Matthew, he says, "So when his fellow servants," these other servants, the angels see how we treat each other, "They came and they told the master what was done. They were so grieved. His master, after he had called him, he said to him, 'You wicked servant. I forgave you all of that debt because you begged me, you asked me,'"
And you know, this is what we're saying during the seminar. Ask and you'll receive. Pray, repent of your sins, confess your sins. You ask him, he will forgive you 10,000 talents, it doesn't matter how much you've sinned. If God can forgive Mary Magdalene and cast out seven devils, and if he can forgive Manasseh, and if he can forgive Moses after murder, it's more alliterations, he can forgive you, you just need to ask. "I forgave you that debt because you asked me," and then he says, "Should you not have had compassion on your fellow servant as I had pity on you?"
How are we supposed to treat our fellow servants? As God has treated us. What does the Bible say about that? Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another," how? "Just as God in Christ forgave you." That's a pretty tall order. We're to forgive others.
Well, what kind of church would we have if people really loved and forgive others the way that Jesus has loved and forgiven us? Colossians 3:12, "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, bearing with one another, forgiving one another. If anyone has a complaint against another," notice this, "Even as Christ forgave you, so also you must do." It's not a recommendation, God commands us to love and to forgive others as we have been forgiven. And when we do that, even though we may not feel like it, then all of a sudden, something happens in our hearts. We began to experience the real peace and joy of Jesus.
There's a lot of people out there in the church that they've never had the joy of the Lord because they've accepted God's forgiveness, but they've never passed it on. And they're still bitter, they're still angry. I meet people, they're angry at parents and grandparents who may have mistreated or even abused them that are dead, and they're never going to get an apology from them. You've got to let it go. You've got to forgive them.
You know, some people are unhealthy because of what they eat. Some people are unhealthy because of what's eating them. And a lot of people are being eaten up with bitterness and unforgiveness. And what's amazing is that sometimes it's even people in the church. First Thessalonians 5:15, "See that nobody renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good, both for yourself and for all. You have heard it said love your neighbor and hate your enemies, but I say love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you might be the sons of your Father in heaven."
You know, there's an interesting story from history. Many people know about the famous mural that Leonardo da Vinci painted there in the chapel in Italy of the Last Supper. And he uses live models when he was painting. Took him quite a while. During the time when he was painting that, he had another very public argument with a famous artist and sculptor by the name of Michelangelo. And, you know, they would write these open letters insulting each other. They were very competitive, I guess, and you know, both architects, and both artists, and sculptors, and they were criticizing each other's work, and it became very personal, very angry, very heated, and a lot of bitterness. And it was the tabloids of the day, the letters they were writing to and about each other being posted and made public.
And so, Leonardo got an idea. When it came time to paint Judas, you know, he used live models normally. He skillfully painted in the face of Michelangelo there to the left of Jesus. You realize the Bible says John was on his right, Judas was on his left, it's very clear. And people came by watching him work, they went, "Oh, look at that." Well, he felt like he had vented his spleen, he was happy now. I'm getting even. I'm going to show everybody what a scoundrel he is.
But then he came to paint the face of Jesus, and the more and more he tried to paint the face of Jesus, he just couldn't do it. He'd paint something and it wouldn't be right, and he'd erase it and he'd try it again, and erase it, and he just could not get that wonderful, beautiful face of love, and mercy, and compassion that he wanted. And after weeks of trying, he knelt by his bed, and he prayed, and cried out and said, "Lord, please show me the face of your Son." And God spoke to his heart, and he said, "You'll never see the face of Jesus until you change the face of Judas." And being convicted, he went and he erased the face of Judas, and painted in the portrait of the stranger that you see there now.
A lot of people cannot see the face of Jesus because they cannot forgive others. They're looking at ways of getting even. They're bitter, and I'm not denying that there are not mean or unkind things that people do to each other, but you know, I think it makes it easier to realize the reason that sometime sinners do such cruel, unkind things is because they're sinners.
If people don't know the Lord, if they don't love the Lord, they're going to ask selfishly. They're going to do mean things. And when people have treated me that way, I say, "Lord, I want them to be converted, and then I can love them easier because they'll be like you." But if they could only be converted, it is possible for someone like Paul, who's killing Christians to be a Christian. For Manasseh, who is sacrificing his children, and he's worshiping devils, for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be converted. And you think, "Well, if I had only known."
A lot of folks out there, you think, "You know, if I could just get even with my enemy, I think God hates them," but, you know, God loves them. Jesus died for them just like he died for you. We need to receive and share the forgiveness of Jesus, and then I think we're preparing our hearts for the outpouring of the Spirit.