Today’s reading: 18:21-35
The parable of the unforgiving servant is fairly straight forward but I’d like to highlight two things. First, is says that the debt owed the king was “a large sum of money”. Some translations translate it more literally as “ten thousand talents”. A single talent was a significant sum of money. Ten thousand talents was an unpayable sum for an average or even above average person. Think of as “a billion dollars”. There was no way this person could ever pay back the king. He was totally beholden to him. Yet the kings mercy is great and he forgives him the whole debt. This is plainly a metaphor for the debt we owe God.
Second, notice the ending.
32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? ‘ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
It says that the servant will be jail until the entire debt is paid back. Some translations have “tortures” instead of jailers. Further, the debt was so big it was unpayable so we can interpret this as implying the servant will never get out. It is important however to read it carefully. It is not because he cannot pay the debt that he was cast into jail, it is because he did not forgive his brother as the king had forgiven him. That is what we owe to each other – forgiveness.