Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18:27)
God Is Moved With Compassion
Forgiveness is a necessary part of the will of God but it is one of the most challenging emotions that men are tasked to do. To forgive is to put aside, cease to feel resentment against another, and pardon the offense caused by another. It is easy to forgive friends and companions but hard to forgive enemies. Peter asked Jesus if there was a limit to how many times a man must forgive another. This shows men’s perception that while forgiveness is commanded, there has to be a limit on the number of times a man must forgive another.
Peter was mistaken to believe forgiveness came with a qualifier. Men forgive one another based upon the worth of their willingness to accept wrong. When a man sins against another repeatedly, a line is drawn in the sand because the carnal heart demands justice for the wrong done. Jesus answers Peter with an illustrative number that shows forgiveness must be endless. The Lord follows up with a parable of a man who owed his master ten thousand talents. The sum owed was millions of dollars. There was no way the servant could repay his master. When the man begged for the master to have patience allowing him time to repay the debt, the heart of the master was moved to compassion. In a gesture of eternal mercy, the debt was forgiven. The master gave up millions of dollars because of his love for the servant.
The servant did not deserve mercy from the master. There was a reason the man owed millions of dollars. He had been unworthy, dishonest, and untruthful in his dealings with the master. The debt owed was not by accident. His careless attitude toward his debt increased daily to a point it was impossible to repay what was owed. The master was entirely within his rights to demand payment and to administer punishment against the debtor. He threatened the most severe payment to have the man and his family sold to regain a small portion of the debt owed. This was the worst thing to happen for a family and they stood in jeopardy of the harshest punishments.
When the man begged for mercy, the heart of the master was moved with compassion. The millions of dollars owed was no longer of any value. What the master saw in the face of the servant was a penitent heart for his failure. Mercy was given to the debtor out of pity for him. In a sweeping moment of grace, the master forgave the debt and brought the debtor a surprising peace and calm. It had to shock the man as he heard the words and saw the love in the eyes of the master. His life was changed forever. The story turns dark when the forgiven man does not show mercy to another who owed only a pauper’s due. He was punished severely by the master. Jesus was teaching how men must forgive others in the same manner the Father has forgiven them.
The key ingredient of the story is the compassion God has upon sinful man. Sin is the debt that humanity heaps up every day, becoming an impossible debt to pay. There is nothing men can do to live righteously before God apart from His grace. All men have sinned and everyone falls short of the glory of God – without exception. Sin is the damning penalty inflicted upon humankind. God demands justice. He requires payment but there is nothing to pay the debt. Only when a man of contrite heart comes before the Father begging for mercy is the heart of God moved to compassion. They are about to be cast off but God has mercy on them. Mercy is a most wonderful feeling to enjoy in the forgiveness of the Lord God. No man deserves it, nothing can be done to change it, and the wrath of God is justified against sin. Then the Lord is moved with compassion, releases the guilt of sin, and forgives. Glory to God.
God is moved with compassion when the humble heart seeks His love. Jesus Christ was the essence of grace when He died for the sins of all men so that the Father can express His compassion and forgive sins. There is no greater gift offered to mankind than the grace and mercy of God. The forgiveness of sins is taking away a debt impossible to pay. Jesus paid the debt in His blood. Through the blood of Jesus, all men are given the opportunity to find grace before the Father and hear those incredible and eternal words: I forgive. Come to Jesus. He will save you. Why? Because God is moved with compassion.