Reflection on Matthew 18:21-35




This is how my Father in heaven will treat each of you, if you don’t forgive each of my followers with all your heart.”


Peter asks Jesus how many times we should forgive our christian brother or sister- is seven times enough? Jesus replies that the real answer is seventy times seven.

Jesus then tells a story about an official who stole a huge amount of money from the king. The man could not repay this, so the king ordered him and his family to be sold into slavery in order to repay the debt. The official begged for mercy, and so the king relented.

When the official met a fellow employee who owed him a small amount of money, he had him thrown into jail. So the king, enraged by the man’s lack of gratitude, has the first official put into jail to be tortured until he repays everything he owed.


Jesus says that if we refuse to forgive our brothers or sisters we will be like the official thrown into jail for neglecting the law of grace.

Does Jesus mean literally that unforgiveness destroys salvation? Does He mean that God’s grace is not unconditional?

I think that the point here is that if we hold onto bitterness against those who sin against us, then we have not really experienced God’s grace in the first place.

Salvation means that God rubs out a debt we could never repay and continues to do that. If we understand that we should be dancing in the streets and kissing strangers! Forgiveness should flow from us in a torrent of joy and grace.

We were on death row preparing to die, but at the last minute an appeal came through announcing we are innocent. How can we do anything other than forgive our brothers and sisters?


Thank you for the gift of salvation, Lord Jesus. As you forgave me my many sins I will forgive all who sin against me. Amen.


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