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An Impossible Debt

October 18, 2011

We call it the Gospel.  We call it the good news…and that’s not just generic terminology.  We call it this for a reason.  And it’s worth noting…we don’t call every story that we tell “good news.”  That would be foolish…because listen, there are certain things that are just never going to be good news.  I am never going to enjoy hearing that I need to buy new tires…I’m just not.  But this story…this Gospel…it is good news.  What we need to understand is why.

 Take a moment and read through Matthew 18:21-35…and then, if you will, turn over a couple pages to the left and read Matthew 5:7.

 You see, in the parable, the servant has this impossible debt.  Those ten thousand talents would have been an astronomical number…completely outside of the scope of reality that he could ever begin to actually pay it off.  Then verse 27 says, “And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.”  Then the servant goes out and refuses to forgive a relatively minor debt (but still, a debt) that was owed him, throwing the offender of that debt into prison, effectively making it impossible that he should ever be able to repay it.  It’s the complete opposite of what was done for him. And notice the sequence of events.  The unforgiving man had been shown mercy…complete, unearned mercy…and then his response was to pass judgment on the one who was in debt to him.  It’s easy to see why the master became so upset.

 You see, the mercy that he had shown to the servant was not in response to any measure of mercy that the servant had previously displayed.  More plainly stated; mercy did not earn mercy.  And so of course the master, upon hearing that this man, who had been shown immeasurable mercy would condemn another, would be upset.  In fact, and the Bible is clear on this, it made the master angry.

 What we must understand…what all of humanity must understand…is that we are not the master in the parable.  We’re not…we’re not the good guy.  We’re the servant.  We’re the one with the impossible debt.  And just to be clear, it’s not a cumulative debt.  It’s not like that girl put in some debt, and this guy over here put in some debt, and then you, because you’re so awesome, only put in a little bit, but if you add it all together, then, it’s a massive debt.  No…you, and I, all on our own, have an impossible debt.  Because, and this is the bad news…you’re a sinner.  I know…believe me I know…it stinks to hear that.  But it’s the truth.  We’ve all sinned.  We’ve all fallen short.  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.”  That’s why it’s good news.  Dead people can’t pay off debt.  Seriously, dead people can’t get jobs…and that’s what we are in our sin…we’re dead…helpless.  The reason the Gospel is good news, is because there was bad news.  God, in His mercy, rewrites the story, reconciling His people unto Himself.

 Now, debt doesn’t just disappear.  And the Gospel of Christ is not that my debt just vanished.  My debt was taken from me and put directly on Jesus Christ.  Your forgiveness was free for you, but the Son of Man carried it on His back at the cross.  That’s why we are debtors to mercy.  Our lives…and our voices…should humbly proclaim that to all who will listen

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