Matthew 18:21-35


In this parable, we see Jesus tell us that forgiven people forgive. It can be a hard lesson to li\ve out, but it’s an important one, one that helps others see a glimpse of Jesus. 


But what is forgiveness? One thing it isn’t is removing boundaries. If someone has hurt you physically or even emotionally scarred you, you can forgive them without letting them back in to the same relationship as before. 


Key Characters in this Parable

  1. The King Who Represents God. 
  2. The 1st Servant Who Represents You. 
  3. The 2nd Servant Who Represents Those Who Have Sinned Against You.


The Gospel Logic of Forgiveness)

  1. A Debt You Could Never Afford. … The first servant was drowning in a debt he could never repay in his lifetime. This debt represents our sin. It is something we can never correct on our own. There is no effort we can make and no payment we can conjure up that can ever cover our sin. The only thing that can pay our sin debt is the blood of Jesus, the most precious thing the world has ever seen. 
  2. A Mercy You Could Never Deserve. … The servant said he would pay his debt eventually. But the king/master released the servant of his debt and forgave him. The master had mercy on the servant despite a debt he could never repay. But debt doesn’t just go away. Either the person in debt repays it, or the person forgiving it pays it to himself. In Collosians 2:13-14 we are told that Jesus paid that debt of sin for us. It’s a mercy we don’t deserve, but one Jesus offers to all of us. 
  3. A Forgiveness You Should Never Withhold. … This servant who had just been forgiven a debt he could never repay goes and finds another servant who owes him a much smaller debt that could eventually be paid. This second servant asked for some patience, just like the first did with his master. But the first servant choked him then had him imprisoned. “Forgiveness is a beautiful word until you have something to forgive” —C. S. Lewis


Four takeaways:

  1. The wrong you suffered is not insignificant. … We have to recognize that there is pain and that it’s significant to us. If there was no pain, there would be nothing to forgive. 
  2. God expects you to forgive. … We are asked to release others from the debt against us that their wrongs against us created. 
  3. Not forgiving hurts us. … “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” —Anne Lamott 
  4. Forgiveness re-enacts the Gospel. … We have been forgiven by Jesus and when we forgive others, we are imitating Him. 


The point: God forgives without limit and He asks us to do the same. Forgiven people forgive. 


“If God forgives us, we must forgive others. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him” —C.S. Lewis


For Further Study/Resources the Pastor Used to Prepare This Message



Preaching the Word, Christ-Centered Exposition, ESV Expository Commentary, New American Commentary



  • Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I? by Tim Keller
  • Tell Me the Stories of Jesus: The Explosive Power of Jesus’ Parables by Albert Mohler
  • Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus by Klyne Snodgrass
  • The Story-Telling God by Jared Wilson