Sermon Transcript – Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors

Series A – Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost – Sunday, September 13, 2020 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
Intro bumper
Time StampTranscript
0:28the holy gospel according to saint
0:29matthew the 18th chapter
0:32peter came up and said to Jesus lord how
0:35often will my brother sin against me and
0:36i forgive him
0:37as many as seven times Jesus said to him
0:40i do not say to you seven
0:42times but seventy times seven
0:46therefore the kingdom of heaven may be
0:48compared to a king who wished to settle
0:50accounts with his servants
0:51when he began to settle one was brought
0:53to him who owed him ten thousand talents
0:56and since he could not pay his master
0:58ordered him to be sold with his wife and
1:00children and all that he had and payment
1:03to be made
1:04so the servant fell on his knees
1:05imploring him have patience with me and
1:07i will pay you everything
1:09and out of pity for him the master of
1:10that servant released him
1:12forgave him the debt but when that same
1:14servant went out he found one of his
1:16fellow servants who owed him a hundred
1:19and seizing him he began to choke him
1:22pay what you owe so his fellow servant
1:25fell down and pleaded with him
1:27have patience with me and i will pay you
1:29he refused
1:30and he went and put him in prison until
1:32he should pay the debt
1:34when his fellow servants saw what had
1:36taken place
1:37they were greatly distressed and when
1:39they went and reported to their master
1:41all that had taken place
1:42then his master summoned him and said to
1:44him you wicked servant i forgave you all
1:46that debt because you pleaded with me
1:49and should you not have had mercy on
1:50your fellow servants as i had had mercy
1:53on you
1:54and in anger as master delivered him to
1:55the jailers until you should pay
1:57all his debt so also my heavenly father
2:00will do to every one of you
2:02if you do not forgive your brother from
2:04your heart
2:05this is the gospel of the lord in the
2:08name of Jesus
2:09amen so forgiveness
2:13this is a sketchy thing in our way of
2:17you know we got to be careful with that
2:21thing i mean what should we do if
2:24somebody comes to us and asks us to
2:26forgive them
2:27and then does the same thing over again
2:31and then over again at where where do we
2:34draw the line
2:35exactly well that’s the question the
2:39presenting question in our gospel text
2:41today here’s what it says
2:45peter came up to Jesus and he said lord
2:47how often will my brother sin against me
2:51and i forgive him and you can almost see
2:54him kind of thinking that he’s really
2:55going to be generous here
2:57when he says as many as seven times
3:01seven times i mean that sounds really
3:03generous i mean at some point you got to
3:04cut a person off because i mean
3:06after all if they were really serious
3:10about amending their lives i mean
3:13they’d get their act together and they
3:15wouldn’t keep doing
3:16the same thing but the thing is is that
3:21if you’re honest with yourself and if
3:24i’m honest with myself
3:28seven times if Jesus cut you off at
3:32seven times when you sinned against him
3:37where would you be right now where would
3:40i be
3:41and and so note here Jesus basically
3:44takes his answer
3:46and he multiplies it by a huge factor he
3:48says i don’t say to you seven times but
3:5070 times seven this
3:53ginormous number and the reason for it
3:58that he gives is quite simple
4:02it’s a matter of perspective i would
4:05remind you
4:08that you and i we have something
4:11terribly in common we were all born
4:15sinners we all have fallen
4:18short of the glory of god we all have
4:22the wrath of god and when it comes to
4:26the number of trespasses
4:28you and i have committed against god and
4:31against each other
4:33well if we were to tally that number up
4:37we’d be in trouble psalmist says oh lord
4:41if you kept a record
4:42of wrongs who could stand
4:45but with you there is forgiveness
4:49you are feared and so Jesus tells
4:52this parable it’s a parable
4:55of perspective if you would because over
4:58and again we
4:59sinners we’re cranky people we don’t get
5:03well with others and as a result of it
5:06we foolishly often exert our rights our
5:11our perspective our turf that needs to
5:14protected especially in the area of
5:20but in light of the fact that we have
5:24been forgiven
5:25much consider then this parable it’s
5:28to think this way Christ says the
5:31kingdom of heaven may be compared to a
5:34who wished to settle accounts with his
5:38make no statement make no mistake about
5:40it Jesus
5:41is that king so when he began to settle
5:44one was brought to him who owed him ten
5:48thousand talents
5:52talent is a measurement of weight
5:56roughly a hundred pounds ten thousand
5:59talents of gold
6:03every time i preach on this text i
6:05scratch my head and say
6:07how is it possible that a single human
6:11can rack up a debt that huge
6:14there are nations today on planet earth
6:17whose national debt doesn’t even come
6:19close to this it’s such a big number
6:23that it well i i i think in comparison
6:26the u.s national debt may be below this
6:30at least when you consider if inflation
6:32over the past 2000
6:34years but see that’s the point
6:38that’s your sin and mine you do
6:43that the scriptures are clear that we
6:45are to love the lord our god with all of
6:47our heart
6:48soul mind strength
6:52with everything that is within us and
6:54that every
6:56second every nano second
7:00that clicks off in chronos time
7:04where we do not love god with all
7:07that is within us that all that we are
7:11that we are sinning
7:15think of it this way is that if you were
7:18to have a meter
7:20and on the one side is the green side
7:23and you’re in the clear you’re okay
7:25you’re not sitting and on the other side
7:28is the red
7:29side where you are sinning
7:33that every moment of our life our
7:35needles on the red side
7:38there isn’t a moment of our lives where
7:40we measure up
7:41not one that’s how it’s possible for us
7:45to rack up a debt of this magnitude
7:48and so Christ is the king you’re the
7:51fellow who’s racked up the 10
7:53000 talent debt and the text says since
7:57he could not pay
8:00and you can’t pay for your sin i can’t
8:01pay for pay for it
8:03what did he do his master ordered him to
8:05be sold his wife and his children all
8:07that he had
8:08and payment to be made debtor’s prison
8:11has long ago
8:12been outlawed as a method of dealing
8:15with somebody who owes a debt because
8:17after all how do you pay a debt when
8:18you’re in prison
8:20the servant fell on his knees
8:24the posture of prayer and he implored
8:27his master
8:28saying have patience with me i’ll pay
8:31you everything
8:33no you won’t how do you how does one go
8:37about paying a debt like this
8:40you’re going to earn this debt back by
8:42playing the horses
8:44i don’t think so in fact this guy is not
8:48going to be
8:48able to pay the interest payments he’s
8:52in a lot of trouble and he knows it
8:56but listen to this king what do we learn
8:59about him
9:00out of pity for him the master of that
9:02servant released him
9:04and forgave him the dead brothers and
9:07Christ does that for you as well out of
9:10for you out of love for you out of love
9:13and pity for me
9:14he has cancelled that debt but he didn’t
9:18write it off the books he ended up
9:20paying it himself
9:22every one of your sins when you think of
9:25it as a debt
9:27that debt has been paid by Christ
9:30in fact i like to point out that in one
9:33version of the lord’s prayer
9:35rather than saying forgive us our
9:36trespasses as we forgive those who
9:39trespass against us
9:41there are some translations where it
9:43reads forgive us our
9:44debts as we forgive our debtors
9:49hmm and so note our debt is paid in full
9:53Christ has had pity on each and every
9:56one of us
9:58and he’s forgiven that great debt that
10:01we owe
10:02to god
10:05but here’s where the turn gets weird
10:09when that same servant then went out he
10:11found his fellow servants
10:12who owed him a hundred denarii hundred
10:14denarii that’s about a month’s wages
10:18so he seized him and began to choke him
10:20this is an ugly
10:21scene this is one where today people
10:26would be filming it with their camera
10:28on their cell phones and the guy is
10:30going pay me
10:32what you owe me it’s just terrible
10:35and it’s ugly
10:40so this fellow servant fell down
10:44and he pleaded with him have patience
10:47with me i will pay you
10:49those are the exact same words that he
10:52used when he was begging and pleading
10:55for his life
10:57have patience i’ll pay you everything
10:59but in this case
11:01his fellow servant easily would have
11:02been able to pay him back months worth
11:04of wages you can work out terms on that
11:07that are acceptable for both parties but
11:10he refused
11:11he refused he had no pity at all he went
11:14and put him in prison until he should
11:16pay the debt
11:17and when his fellow servants saw what
11:19had taken place they were greatly
11:23and they went and reported to their
11:24master all that had taken place
11:28do you think it’s an accident a
11:31that Christ teaches us to pray forgive
11:33us our trespasses
11:35as we forgive those who trespass against
11:39and note here it doesn’t say
11:42forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
11:46those who
11:46ask to be forgiven
11:50no it says as we forgive those who
11:53trespass against us and we’re going to
11:55take a look at a cross reference that i
11:56think is going to help us
11:58out here so his master summoned him and
12:01said you wicked servant i forgave you
12:03all that debt because you pleaded with
12:06i had mercy i canceled the bazillion
12:08dollar debt
12:09and you should you not have had mercy on
12:12your fellow servant as i has had mercy
12:15on you
12:16and you’ll note then the gospel is front
12:19and center in the mind of every
12:23what is our disposition towards others
12:27look at the great debt that Christ has
12:28forgiven you of your sin
12:31and now consider then consider
12:35that it is appropriate
12:38it’s like appropriate beyond all reason
12:42that having been forgiven such a great
12:46that you then would freely forgive
12:48anyone who trespassed against you
12:51but this fellow didn’t he was shown
12:54mercy and rather than show mercy
12:58he showed mercilessness which is not
13:01befitting of a Christian
13:03we love because he first loved us the
13:05scripture says
13:07i forgave you all that debt you because
13:09you pleaded with me should you not have
13:10had mercy on your fellow servant as i
13:12had mercy on you
13:13so in anger his master delivered him to
13:15the jailers until he should pay
13:17all his debt so also my heavenly father
13:21will do to every one of you
13:23if you do not forgive your brother from
13:26your heart
13:27you see there is no place for grudges
13:30within the kingdom of god
13:32the forgiven forgive and yes we forgive
13:36who ask to be forgiven
13:40and we also do not hold against them
13:43their sins those who do not even ask to
13:47be forgiven
13:48now i know that second one seems like it
13:50might sound
13:51wrong but the reality is is that this is
13:55so exemplified for us in the bible
13:59with the stoning of the first Christian
14:02stephen in the book of acts chapter
14:056 it says this regarding
14:08stephen stephen full of grace
14:12and power was doing great wonders and
14:15signs among the people
14:16he was not an apostle but the apostles
14:19had laid his hands on him he was one of
14:21the first
14:21deacons of the Christian church and
14:25he was performing great signs and
14:26wonders in the name of Jesus
14:29and the text goes on to say that some of
14:31those who belong to the synagogue of the
14:33freedmen as it was called and of the
14:35and of those of the alexandrians and
14:37those from silicean asia
14:39they rose up and they disputed with
14:43they disputed with him verse 10 says
14:47they could not withstand the wisdom and
14:50the spirit with which he was speaking
14:52they couldn’t defeat him in a debate
14:55they knew
14:56that what he was saying was right
14:58according to the scriptures and they
15:00could not figure out how to beat him in
15:03an argument and worse
15:05the guy was performing signs and wonders
15:07in the name of Jesus himself
15:09well what often happens when somebody
15:12does that
15:13is that those who are enemies of Christ
15:15make themselves enemies of the one who
15:17is preaching Christ
15:19and so here was their solution
15:22they began secretly they instigated men
15:26who said we have heard stephen speak
15:29blasphemous words against moses and god
15:35they started slandering him and bringing
15:38false charges
15:39against him text goes on to say they
15:42stirred up the people
15:43and the elders and the scribes and they
15:45came upon him and
15:47seized him and brought him before the
15:50and they set up false witnesses who said
15:53this man never ceases to speak words
15:56against this holy place
15:58and against the torah we have heard him
16:01say that this
16:02Jesus of nazareth will destroy this
16:05and will change the customs that moses
16:07delivered to us
16:08and gazing at him all who saw
16:12sat in the council saw stephen’s face
16:16and they saw that it was like the face
16:17of an angel
16:21what should steven do in this situation
16:25this whole trial is rigged
16:29and left unchallenged he is going to be
16:33stoned to death what’s he going to do
16:36these guys are slandering him he has
16:38rights you know
16:42well let’s consider
16:45with this first deacon and first martyr
16:48of the Christian
16:49church did so the high priest chapter 7
16:54said are these things true are they
16:57so and he knows full well they’re not
17:00because they had instigated people to be
17:02false witnesses
17:04so he’s just putting on a pretense and
17:05he’s the high priest
17:08the religious leader
17:12so stephen now made his defense and
17:15consider what he says in light of our
17:17old testament texts
17:20brothers and fathers hear me the god of
17:22glory appeared to our father abraham
17:25when he was in mesopotamia before he
17:28lived in haran
17:29and god said to him go out from your
17:31land and from your kindred and go
17:33into the land that i will show you and
17:35then he went out from the land of the
17:37chaldeans and lived in haran
17:39and after his father died god removed
17:41him from there
17:43into this land in which you are now
17:46yet he gave him no inheritance in it not
17:49even a foot’s length
17:50but he promised to give it to him as a
17:53possession and to his offspring after
17:55though he had no child god spoke to this
17:59effect that his offspring would be
18:02in a land belonging to others who would
18:05enslave them and afflict them for 400
18:09but i will judge the nation that they
18:11serve said god
18:13after that they shall come out and
18:15worship me in this place
18:17and so he gave him the covenant of
18:19circumcision and so abraham became the
18:21father of isaac
18:23and circumcised him on the eighth day
18:26and isaac became the father of jacob
18:28and jacob of the twelve patriarchs
18:32and the patriarchs jealous
18:35of joseph sold him into egypt
18:42but god was with him so he was sold as a
18:45slave but god was with him that’s all
18:47that mattered god was with him
18:49and god rescued him out of all of his
18:53and god gave him favor and wisdom before
18:56pharaoh king of egypt
18:57who made him ruler over egypt and over
19:00all his household
19:01now there came a famine throughout all
19:03of egypt and canaan
19:05and great affliction and our fathers
19:06could find no food
19:08isn’t it fascinating how stephen in his
19:13gives us one of the greatest summaries
19:16of the old testament in all of scripture
19:19and he takes us back through and traces
19:22important themes for us and this is his
19:25when jacob heard there was grain in
19:27egypt he sent out our fathers
19:29on the first visit and on the second
19:31visit joseph made himself known to his
19:34and joseph’s family became known to
19:38how is that possible his brothers sold
19:40him into slavery
19:42sold them into egypt everybody knows
19:45that when somebody does that
19:47you make sure that they get what’s
19:49coming to them
19:52but joseph forgave them you see in our
19:55old testament texts
19:58it’s fascinating when israel when jacob
20:02finally died
20:03his brothers who sold him into slavery
20:05they were were afraid they were
20:08that joseph would hate them and pay them
20:10back for the evil
20:12that they had done to him but see
20:15that’s the thing about we Christians
20:19we do not repay evil
20:22for evil
20:25just like Christ did not repay the evil
20:28done to him
20:29on the cross with evil but through that
20:33evil he worked the greatest good for all
20:36of us
20:36so that we can be forgiven and what did
20:39joseph’s brother do
20:40brothers do they sent a message to
20:42joseph saying your father gave this
20:44command before he died say to joseph
20:47forgive the transgression of your
20:49brothers and their sin
20:50because they did evil to you
20:53please forgive the transgression of the
20:56servants of god your father
20:58but joseph wept when they spoke to him
21:02and his brothers came they fell down
21:03before him and said behold we are your
21:07joseph said to them do not fear for am i
21:10in the place of god
21:12as for you what you meant for evil
21:15against me god meant for good
21:19and to bring it about that many should
21:22be kept alive
21:23as they are today and so brothers and
21:25sisters consider that
21:27our great sins have been forgiven by
21:31and the evil that we concocted against
21:34him we are all culpable we are all
21:37of the death of the son of god and the
21:40evil that we worked against Christ
21:42Christ has worked for our salvation
21:44so that many will live rather than
21:47perish and so you’ll note stephen in his
21:51defense in the face of slanderous
21:56that if he’s found guilty of would
21:58result in his death
22:00he invokes the same history
22:04this same story and it says
22:08that on the second visit joseph made
22:10himself known to his brothers
22:12and joseph’s family became known to
22:16because they were forgiven joseph sent
22:19and summoned jacob and his father and
22:20all his kindred 75 persons in all
22:23and jacob went down into egypt and there
22:25he died
22:26and our fathers and they were carried
22:28back to shechem
22:30and laid in the tomb that abraham had
22:32bought for a sum of silver
22:34from the sons of hamor and shechem
22:38but this isn’t all that stephen
22:42says in his defense no he takes us
22:45through this
22:46wonderful history of the people of
22:50a wonderful and beautiful retelling
22:54in synopsis form almost like footnotes
22:57almost like well
22:58what do they call those things cliff
22:59nose it’s like the cliff nose version of
23:01the old
23:02testament itself but watch where he goes
23:06here rather than defend
23:09himself he then
23:12calls his accusers to repentance
23:19here’s what it says starting
23:22at verse 51 of acts chapter
23:31stephen says you stiff-necked people
23:35you’re uncircumcised in your heart and
23:37in your ears
23:39you always resist the holy spirit as
23:42your fathers did
23:43so do you which of the prophets did your
23:46fathers not persecute
23:48and they killed those who announced
23:51the coming of the righteous one whom you
23:54have now betrayed and you have murdered
23:57you who received the torah as delivered
24:00by angels
24:01but you did not keep it and so you’ll
24:05rather than try to defend himself at
24:07this point stephen can see that the gig
24:09is up
24:09and what does he do he makes one last
24:12to convict them of their sins so that
24:16they would recognize their need
24:18for the forgiveness that is in Christ
24:20who is the righteous one
24:21and he reminds them of their guilt as it
24:24relates to Jesus’s death
24:27well the story then goes on to say when
24:30they heard these things
24:31they were in raged and they
24:35ground their teeth at him it’s a weird
24:38thing to say ground your teeth
24:40what does that look like all right so
24:43you ground your teeth at him but
24:46stephen full of the holy spirit then
24:48gazed into heaven
24:50and he saw the glory of god and listen
24:52to what the text says
24:54and Jesus standing at the right hand of
25:00this isn’t a throwaway detail this is a
25:02huge detail
25:03it’s huge you see because what do we
25:06confess in the creed
25:07that Christ ascended into heaven and he
25:11at the right hand of the father
25:14he sits but Jesus here
25:18is standing
25:22his first martyr the first
25:25man who was called to lay down
25:28his life did not assert his rights
25:34could see through what was going on and
25:36didn’t say wow this is all a bunch of
25:38flim flam
25:40and a scam he reminded them of the great
25:44salvation history and the mighty acts of
25:47culminating in the righteous one Jesus
25:49Christ whom they crucified and murdered
25:52but who rose from the dead ascended into
25:56but the creed says sits at the right
25:58hand of the father
26:00but here’s what it says he saw Jesus
26:03Jesus stood
26:08he couldn’t be sitting for this one he
26:10had to stand
26:14behold i see heavens opened and the son
26:16of man standing at the right hand of god
26:19so they cried out with a loud voice and
26:21they stopped their ears
26:23and they rushed together at him and then
26:25they cast him out of the city and they
26:27stoned him
26:29and the witnesses laid down their
26:30garments at the feet of a young man
26:32saul saul of tarsus this is the one who
26:34will go on to become
26:36the apostle paul but as they were
26:39stoning stephen
26:41he called out lord Jesus receive my
26:45spirit and falling to his knees
26:50he cried out with a loud voice and
26:53listen to what he prayed
26:54lord do not hold this sin against them
27:00and when he had said this he fell asleep
27:06weren’t asking for his forgiveness they
27:08hadn’t even repented
27:10but by him saying lord don’t hold the
27:13sin against them it’s clear
27:15not even stephen held this sin against
27:22it’s sobering when you think about it
27:24it’s dangerous when you think about it
27:26if i forgive that person they’re likely
27:30yeah i know but see it’s a matter of
27:36you have been forgiven ten thousand
27:38talents of sin
27:40and anybody who sins against you it’s a
27:42paltry mere pennies
27:46so heed the words of Christ have mercy
27:49on your fellow servants
27:51even if they’re murdering you even if
27:53they’re impenitent even if they’re
27:54slandering you
27:55even if they are persecuting you
27:58vengeance is mine saith the lord
28:00so we forgive everybody
28:03because we are forgiven so richly this
28:06is most certainly true
28:08so lord help us teach us
28:12through your holy spirit grant to us
28:15that we may forgive
28:17as we are forgiven in the name of Jesus
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