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There are a lot of questions asked in the Scriptures that are penetrating and revealing in their impact. Some of the most powerful ones are asked by Jesus and are often found in the parables He told. Following up on the parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18) that I mentioned in my last posting, we encounter a question that reaches into the depths of our relationships - especially those relationships that have involved hurt, pain, betrayal and forgiveness (hopefully).

Peter has asked Jesus how often he must forgive the person or persons who have wronged him and Peter suggests his own answer. Jesus takes Peter's suggestion (seven times) and multiplies it (times 70) so as to make the answer to Peter's question to be "limitless".

But it's not the number of times that is at the heart of Jesus' answer. It is why we are to forgive. The question of the master is this:

Shouldn't you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?' (vs.33,34)

The answer of course is "Yes"! He should have forgiven the debt but he didn't. Instead he applied every pressure he could think of - including a brutal physical attack. As did his co-worker, the second servant pleaded for understanding and an extension of time. Denied.

God the Father has cancelled our debt. We are forgiven. How can we withhold forgiveness to others if we have been forgiven such a mighty debt. We have received freely; we ought to give freely. That is so very true of forgiveness.

But now comes the part of the parable that is very confrontational. If what follows was spoken by anyone but the Son of God, I think I could rationalise it so that its impact was less staggering. But the words that follow have rattled my theological cage. They may rattle yours, too

I'll take this up in the next posting (part 3) and invite you to join me then and see what you think of the confrontational Jesus.

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