Matthew 18:21-35 (NRSV)
Verse 21Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Verse 22Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. Verse 23"For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. Verse 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; Verse 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. Verse 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' Verse 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. Verse 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, 'Pay what you owe.' Verse 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' Verse 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. Verse 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Verse 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Verse 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' Verse 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. Verse 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."
The parable of the “Unforgiving Servant” probably became more meaningful and personal to Peter as he looked back on his relationship with Jesus especially in light of the crucifixion and resurrection. He would have learned something about the wideness of God’s mercy and the depth of God’s love even for one who had denied that he ever knew Jesus. Jesus did not call Peter and us to be scorekeepers or to be caught up in the heavy, endless burden of being a judge of others. Jesus has called all Christians to be gracious and forgiving as he was and to leave judgment up to God. If a sibling in Christ is abusive to us numerous times and shows no remorse, we have a right to seek justice which may or may not come about. Ultimate justice and accountability is up to God. Recalling how God used a murderer like Paul to be a missionary and a denier like Peter to be a proclaimer, there are special places for the rest of us in this unique family of the forgiven.
Holy Spirit, transform our resentments into forgiveness and empower us to love our enemies as you have done. Amen.