The Parable and the Theology

This post is part of an ongoing series on Forgiveness in the Gospel of Matthew.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant reminds us that the final word on sin and debt in the church must be forgiveness. For if God has forgiven his servants in such magnificence, who are they to not extend that merciful forgiveness to others? This imperative of mercy is not only intimately connected with the second greatest commandment—to love your neighbor as yourself—but is wrapped up in the character of God. Since God grants forgiveness because He is mercy, so also His followers are called to embody and manifest forgiveness to others. As Daniel Doriani writes, “God has forgiven us a vast debt. As a result, we owe him our mind, our heart, our will. [This] passage summons us to give ourselves to the Lord not through an act of obedience or service, but by letting his mercy sink into our mind and heart. God has forgiven you ‘all that debt,’ not by a mere word, but by the life and blood of his Son. Since the Lord had such mercy on us we must have mercy and forgive others.”[1]

Other insights into forgiveness are gleaned in the wider context of Matthew’s Gospel. Perhaps most importantly, Matthew reveals that it is Jesus’ blood which brings forgiveness of sins. In this view, Jesus came into the world with the purpose of saving people from their sins, a reality which was inaugurated by forgiving death on the cross. From Matthew’s wider narrative, we saw that God possesses the power of forgiveness and that Jesus participated in that power while on earth. Further, there exists an “unforgivable sin,” which in the context of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant seems to be the failure to forgive others as one has been forgiven by God. The Parables of the Lost Sheep and Two Sons reveal that God wishes none from the community be lost and that obedient action rather than lip service constitutes true righteousness. Following the parabolic paradigms, we learned that even a sin as heinous as denying Jesus is a forgivable offense, provided you properly request forgiveness and extend forgiveness to others. Finally, Matthew demonstrates that the blood of Jesus forgives and saves, even to the Jews who seemingly have rejected him.

[1] Doriani, 31.


Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

One thought on “The Parable and the Theology

  1. Interesting. How would you respond to those who say that Christ’s death is not required for forgiveness of sins because Jesus was telling his followers to forgive each other before his death?

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