July 30, 2012
(Jesus said) "One was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt." Matthew 18:24-27
The 8,800 people of Mittenwalde, Germany, are very rich ... at least on paper. Those are statements that call for an explanation.
Here is the story: on May 28, 1562, the community of Mittenwalde made a loan to the city of Berlin in the amount of 400 guilders. Interest on the loan was calculated at six percent.
Those who love to do the math, like bankers and such, have calculated Berlin now owes Mittenwalde somewhere around 11,200 guilders. Now if you're not up to date on the guilder-to-dollar ratio, that is almost $137 million.
"But," say the people of Mittenwalde, "how about the compound interest? How about inflation? That will bring the debt into the trillions of dollars."
Debts can accumulate, can't they?
That's a truth which was discovered by the servant in Jesus' parable. For whatever reason, his debts to his master had reached a level which could never be repaid. Without a healthy dose of forgiveness on the part of his master, the servant was sunk -- just like we are sunk.
Our many sins and transgressions have put us into an IOU situation with the Lord, an impossible-to-pay IOU situation with our Creator.
If we were to survive, if we were to be rescued from the place where there is continuous wailing and gnashing of teeth, it was not going to be by our own actions. Our salvation had to come courtesy of the Christ.
Thankfully, by our divine King's wish and will, Jesus became poor so we might be rich. He suffered so we might have peace; He was rejected so we might be accepted, and He died so we might live forever.
Our debts were paid by Christ on the cross of Calvary.
We rejoice because the debt we could never repay has been paid and by God's grace we are saved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks I am saved by grace and not through my own pitiful works. Grant me the grace to share the forgiveness You have given me with others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries