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!
THEME: THE NECESSITY OF BEING MERCIFUL
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.
I. THE NECESSITY OF MERCY FOR MYSELF
A. Sinful man is totally helpless and lost without mercy. This thought, like a golden thread, is found throughout the Bible. Tit. 3:5 stays it very well: "Not by works in righteousness which we have done but by his mercy He has saved us." When David committed adultery but was forgiven he exclaimed: "Have mercy upon me, Oh God!" Ps. 51:1. After Paul called himself the chief of sinners he said, "For this reason God had mercy on me so that in me first of all Christ Jesus might exhibit His longsuffering as a pattern for those who will believe in Him for life eternal." Until the end of the world Paul will serve as a model for all sinners who cannot save themselves by their works but on whom Christ Jesus has had mercy. How often don't we read in the Gospels about people who said to Jesus: "Lord, have mercy on me!" How often don't we repeat this sentence. Sinful man cannot be helped without God's mercy.
B. The Triune God is a God of mercy. About twelve times in the OT we read: "Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good because His mercy endures forever." Ps. 118:1. He is a merciful God in Christ Jesus. And that mercy is endless. That's the way He is pictured in our text. He decided to take accounts with His servants. One was brought before Him who owed Him ten thousand talents, a huge amount. He could not pay. He deserved to be sold with his household as a slave. But he begged for mercy. The Lord had mercy on him and forgave his entire debt. That is the true picture of God toward all Mankind. His mercies in Christ Jesus are new every morning. They endure forever. He forgives His children daily, weekly, monthly, annually, all their life.
II. THE NECESSITY OF MERCY FOR MY NEIGHBOR
A. My neighbor is as sinful and helpless as I am. In Adam all have sinned and therefore do now fall short of the glory of God. Rom. 3:22. But there is a difference. My neighbor owes me far, far less than I owe God. In our text the comparative debts were ten thousand talents compared to one hundred danaria. When we pray: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who sin against us" we are not comparing amounts but rather attitude. I owe God much, much more than my neighbor owes me. But I should have the same attitude toward him that God has toward me. Trust as God has mercifully forgiven me in Christ Jesus, so I must mercifully forgive my neighbor. In Christ God forgives and forgets. Jer. 31:34. He does not remember the sins of my youth. Ps. 25:7.
B. The danger of being merciless toward my neighbor. If and when I refuse to forgive my neighbor two things happen: I become offensive to my fellow-Christians as the parable plainly shows and, secondly, I bring the just judgment of God down on myself. If I refuse to forgive my neighbor, all my debts come back again and I become liable. Mercy has come to an end. Those who refuse to forgive their fellowman bring the mercy of the Lord to an end and, unless they repent, will be forever banished from the presence of the Lord" II Thess. 1:8-9. They will be thrown into outer darkness where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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.