Our text is the familiar parable of the Unforgiving Servant to be found in Matthew 18:23-35. The entire chapter has to do with the attitudes and actions of forgiveness, love and acceptance. A reading of the entire chapter prior to Sunday’s worship would be helpful. The message is entitled “My Brother,” and takes that title from the oft-cited verses right before the parable, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault.” (Matthew 18:15ff) The parable for our consideration challenges us: If you don’t know who your brother is, then you don’t know who your Father is either. Put another way I heard it once: If doctrine isn’t working between me and you, then it’s not working between me and the Lord either. Peter’s question (18:21-22) that lies between the process of restoration of relationship (18:15-20) and the parable (18:23-35) indicates that he “doesn’t ‘get it.’” Peter’s question indicates he’s too focused on himself and “following the rules.” He misses the entire point of the restoration of relationship that is the heart of salvation and the heart of the Church. Sin has done this to us, friends. It’s all over our culture and politics right now and it’s inescapable in our broken circumstances. As a result, each of us encounters the pain and pride of difference and distance. We lose the rich joy of love the Lord has lavished on us in our broad diversities and uniqueness’s. Far too often that locks us into fear, hurt, anger and pride, a dreadful pain for human beings created for fellowship. One result of that is our all-too-easy effort to overcome or to numb that pain with alcohol and substances that only further distances. This will be a side-light focus in our message this Sunday. Here at Christ we are seeking to foster the beginning of helping to overcome that aloneness with an emphasis called “Faith Partners” that you’ll hear more about Sunday. It is the Lord’s love that restores, refreshes and renews us in fellowship with
Himself precisely for the experience of fellowship with one another. That’s what forgiveness accomplishes.