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The math of forgiveness
Pastor Mike Novotny
by Pastor Mike Novotny
August 8, 2022

Here’s a story that Jesus almost told—There was a man who owed a king 100 silver coins. The king, knowing the man couldn’t pay the debt, smiled and said, “I forgive your debt, all 100 coins.” The forgiven man left, ecstatic over the king’s forgiveness . . . until he ran into a neighbor who also owed him 100 coins. He demanded payment, causing the man to beg for mercy. Unlike the king, however, there would be no forgiveness. When the king heard what the man had done, the man who had just been forgiven that very amount, he was furious.

Do you recognize that tale? It resembles a parable Jesus told. Except for one little detail. In Jesus’ actual story, the first man wasn’t forgiven just 100 silver coins but instead “a man who owed [the king] ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him” (Matthew 18:24). The debt was not silver but gold. Not 100 coins but 10,000 bags. It’s hard to perfectly crunch the numbers, but some scholars suggest that the man owed the king $7,000,000,000 and was owed around $12,000.

Why did Jesus choose those numbers? Perhaps he knew we could never truly forgive unless we realized how much we have been forgiven. Not a silver coin or two but billions of dollars, paid in full at the cross.

If you’re holding on to bitterness toward someone, take some quiet time with Jesus. Think deeply about how often and how completely you have been forgiven. Then you’ll be ready to forgive.

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