Morning Reading - Exodus 13-15
To further emphasize the importance of forgiveness, Jesus tells a parable in which he compares the kingdom of heaven to a King who mercifully forgives one his servants. We are told that this particular servant owes the King ten thousand talents. (One talent equalled approximately twenty years' wages for an average laborer, so a person would need to work 200,000 years to earn ten thousand talents.) Obviously, Jesus is using hyperbole to make an important theological point: just as the servant's debt far exceeds his ability to pay, in the same way our debt of sin is so great, that only by God's mercy are we forgiven and set free. After this servant is forgiven his debt, he goes out and finds a fellow servant who owes him one hundred denarii. (A denarius equalled approximately one day's wages for a laborer, so the debt of this fellow servant is insignificant compared to the ten thousand talents owed by the first servant.) Jesus is teaching his disciples that God's forgiveness and mercy is so great, that our refusal to forgive others is an affront to God. If God has freely forgiven us so great a debt, how can we refuse to forgive those who have trespassed against us? This teaching parallels the words of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6, "forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors."
The picture I have included with this post depicts members of the Amish community in southeastern Pennsylvania after the shooting at local school house in 2006. In the midst of tragedy and despair, this community was able to express profound forgiveness and mercy. They did not deny their anger or grief, but they knew that forgiveness was the only path to healing and wholeness.
As we continue to read the New Testament, the theme of forgiveness will continual, so I will lilkely post addiitional reflections and comments regarding this topic in the future.