7591 - 10,000 Talents

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Have you ever considered the magnitude of what the Lord has forgiven in the lives of Christians?

This week I was privileged to enjoy a brief lesson on forgiveness that was presented to the AWANA kids club that I volunteer with. Hearing the lesson, it reminded me of something that I want to share with you today.

The passage we will be considering is from Matthew 18:23-35. It is the parable of two servants who each owe a certain amount of money. This is an intriguing passage that with a little bit of insight becomes an incredible example of forgiveness.

The first servant is brought into the king to settle up his debt with the king. He owes 10,000 talents to the king, but yet after an impassioned plea for mercy and forgiveness, the king forgives the debt.

This same servant then leaves the king and directly goes to another servant who owes him 100 denarii and the servant demands this amount be repaid him. The second servant makes a plea that is nearly identical to the plea the first servant made to the king, but the plea is ignored and the second servant is thrown into prison until the debt could be repaid.

Before we continue to the end of the parable, lets look at what the value is of 10,000 talents and 100 denarii. First of all, a talent is equal to 6000 days wages, and a days wage was 1 denarii, that is, one silver coin.

So the amount owed by the first servant is 60,000,000 days wages. In present day wages in Israel that is equal to more than seven and a half Billion dollars ($7,667,400,000). Or, the equivalent of 191,000 years of pay. This is more than could be earned in 6000 life times.

And consider also that according to the ancient historian, Josephus (Ant. 17.11.4 §317–20), 600 talents in taxes were collected from all of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria in 4 BC.

So this is an obscene amount owed by the first servant. To the audience that Jesus is speaking to, this is an amount of money far greater than they can even conceive.

On the other hand, the second servant owed 100 denarii, that is 100 silver coins, or 100 days wages. In present wages in Israel this would be equivalent to about $13,000.

Not at all a small amount of money, but certainly one that pales in comparison to the seven and a half Billion dollars the first servant owed. It is 17 Billionths of a percentage of what the first servant owed. Far far less than even the tiniest fraction of the first debt.

But yet, despite the overwhelming and impossible debt that had just been forgiven him, the first servant did NOT show compassion on the second servant, but instead threw the second servant in prison. A punishment that the first servant deserved far more than the second.

So now the servant who owed less is in prison, but when the other servants heard this, they told the king and I will read what happened next from Matthew 18:32-34:

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

So, the first servant receives the punishment he deserved because he did not show mercy and forgive his fellow servant. So let each of us remember that the Lord has shown us mercy through the gift of salvation by the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus. Don’t ever forget that each of us deserves death for an unpayable debt of our sins, and the magnitude of our debt to God is far greater than even all the wealth in the world, but the forgiveness of God washes that debt away.

Each of us has a debt of sin that we cannot pay, and for those who have accepted the gift of forgiveness we are expected to show the same mercy and forgiveness to others.