The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from Matthew 18:23-35

Trinity XXII

1. At Lk. 6:36 Jesus says: "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." Vs. 33 of our text contains the verb "to be merciful" twice. The wicked servant had no mercy. The sinful flesh of all human beings, also that of Christians, is merciless. When Christians fall from the faith they show their true merciless condition. Think of Cain, Saul and Judas.

2. Note the adverb "as" in vs. 33. It reminds us of the same word at Mt. 6:12: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." This does not denote amount but spirit and attitude.

3. Scholars have computed that the wicked servant was forgiven 600,000 times more than what was owed by the fellow servant. God has forgiven us infinitely more than our neighbor forgives us.

4. Mercy is an attitude of love and forgiveness toward someone who is miserable and undeserving. When David confessed his sin with Bathsheba he cried: "Have mercy upon me, 0 God, according to Your loving kindness." Ps. 51:5. When Paul acknowledged himself to be the chief of sinners, he added: "However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering." I Tim. 1:16. Many times in the OT we read: "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good because His mercy endures forever!" Ps. 118:1. In what sense is He "good"? His mercy endures forever. Tit. 3:5 reads: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." Holy Baptism is a constant and enduring covenant of God's mercy which forgives our many, many sins.

5. In vs. 21 Peter had asked Jesus, "How often should I forgive my brother who sins against me?" Jesus' answer says: "There should be no limit to your forgiveness." In vs. 21 Jesus is speaking about a repentant sinner, a person who commits many sins of weakness. In vss. 15-18 Jesus had spoken of an impenitent sinner. Neither God nor the Christian should forgive an impenitent sinner. His impenitence keeps an impenitent sinner from being forgiven. In vss. 26-27 the wicked servant at first is penitent, confessing and begging for mercy. But in vss. 28-34 the wicked servant became impenitent. His fellow servants grieved over his impenitence. And the Lord refused to forgive his debt.

6. At Jn. 5:14 Jesus said to the healed man: "Look, you've been made well. Sin no more lest a worse thing come on you." Doesn't a Christian sin daily? Of course he does. But he does not sin willingly. He repents and cries for mercy. And he shows mercy to other sinners. At Gal. 5:21 after Paul had listed the sins of the flesh, he says: "People who constantly do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God." Christians do occasionally commit these sins, but not deliberately. Christians grieve over the sins they commit unwillingly. That is why St. Paul says: "Let not sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts." Rom. 6:12. And at Eph. 4:26: "Let not the sun go down on your wrath." Don't bear a grudge. Don't let sin rule over you. Don't become merciless like the wicked servant who refused to forgive his fellow servant a small debt.

7. People sometimes say: "I'll forgive but I won't forget." That is very, very dangerous. Then God forgives us for Jesus' sake, does He forget? Surely He does. At Jer. 31:34 God says: "I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more." At Ps. 25:7 David prays: "Do not remember the sins of my youth." When God forgives, He forgets even though, like David, we remember the sins of our youth and therefore beg God not to remember our sins

8. Can a Christian fall from the faith and lose his soul? Yes. That is why Paul warns us: "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." I Cor. 10:12. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinful being!

The Sermon Outline of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from Matthew 18:23-35

Trinity XXII



God says in vs. 33 of our text: was it not necessary for you to have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had mercy on you?" Mercy is necessary for me. I can be saved in no other way. Mercy is necessary also for my fellowmen. He can be loved in no other way. If I refuse to show mercy I cut myself off from God's mercy and I am loveless toward my neighbor. That is what our text is saying.




We have many sins to confess. Included in these sins are the times when we refused to forgive our neighbor. Lord, have mercy on us! Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

This text was converted to ascii format for Project Wittenberg by Cindy A. Beesley and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to: Rev. Robert E. Smith of the Walther Library at Concordia Theological Seminary.


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