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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 18

Verses 1-14

  1. Intro: BIG Lesson from a little Child
    1. I’d pick...Peter James & John, they got to see the transfiguration. Or, John, he got to lean on Jesus chest at last supper & was called the one He loved (though he wrote it about himself). No, Peter, he was definitely the overseer. Or wait James, he was the leader in Jerusalem. Or James & John who had their mom ask Jesus for Box Seats in Glory.
      1. Remember from last week, Jesus was just talking about His abasement, & now they can only think of their advancement. [oh the desire to be celebrities instead of servants]
      2. I picture Jesus walking down the line of the 12, as they wait breathlessly for Jesus to name the One/the winner...saying…Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. My mother told me to pick YOU.And I picture Jesus bending over & picking up Peter’s child & placing him/her in their midst. (cuz he’s in a house in Capernaum)
    2. Did Peter, James & John, receiving the prestigious pick to go up on the Mount w/Jesus, stir up this question & debate among the 12? - Did this fuel the fire of competition?
      1. I picture from God’s vantage point this discussion being like...all the crystals inside a salt shaker discussing...who’s saltier?
      2. Come on guys stand together, no matter who is greatest.
        1. It’s serving your superiors & your inferiors. This is the way to true First-ness.
      3. Don’t aim for human greatness; aim to be more like Jesus Christ.
    3. Oh, and aren’t we just as wrong to think of the kingdom of God as having gradations, or levels, or class, or rank?
      1. Isn’t it false humility to say, I’ll be the one in the back cleaning the clouds.
      2. ...is the greatest (4) - Jesus here explains that everybody is Great inside. There are no little souls inside the kingdom.
        1. Mt.11:11 I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!
        2. There boys, is your answer.
    4. Humility means, knowing yourself, accepting yourself, being yourself, your best self, & giving of yourself for others.
      1. Imagine for a moment 12 men trying out humble each other to be the greatest :)
      2. This is the kingdom in which every man ascends by willingly going down.
    5. Children were not given much recognition in NT time.
      1. The test of greatness is being ready to serve other people even if they are as unimportant as a little child.
        1. Jesus turns every day values on their head.
      2. We are to receive all of Gods people as we do children, w/no thoughts of their accomplishments, their influence, their fame, or their gifts, but simply because they are His children.
  2. RECEIVE CHRIST LIKE A CHILD (1-4)
    1. ​​​​​​​(2) A child - Illustrates humility and dependence.
      1. A child represented someone completely reliant on others.
      2. Children were w/o status in the ancient world and at the mercy of adults.
        1. Very small children consumed resources, required constant attention, and needed to be protected. However, as they grew, children could help with work, provide for the family, and even defend their town in battle.
      3. Little children are free from many habits which adults have acquired. They’re natural and trustful because they know nothing of deception and diplomacy. They say what they mean and believe what they hear. They have no fear and are not worried about the future. They know their parents take care of them and do not fail to meet their daily needs no matter how poor they are. This is the trusted child has an loving parents. George Lamsa, Gospel Light, pg.108.
    2. (3) Become as little children - Describes a change in attitude.
      1. Jesus contrasts the disciples’ pride with the humility of children.
        1. Unlike children who had no status, the disciples were expecting to be honored in God’s kingdom.
  3. RECEIVE A CHILD LIKE CHRIST (5)
    1. ​​​​​​​One who has a child heart, receives a child, which in turn is receiving Christ himself.
      1. And the person that does not have a child heart will offend the child...see 6-9.
  4. ENTICING A CHILD TO SIN (6-9)
    1. ​​​​​​​Causes one of these little ones to sin = skandalizo (as does offenses 3x’s in vs.7)
      1. Cause/entice to sin, trip, stumble & fall.
      2. How can one entice a child to sin? It could be from not training up a child in the ways of the Lord. But also look at how child molestation, child abduction, child trafficking, child labor, a child being kept from education,
    2. CONTROL WHAT YOU DO (6-8) If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off
    3. In these verses, Jesus uses hyperbole to make a point about the seriousness of sin.
      1. Here the Lord repeats a message from the sermon on the Mount. Why not? Great lessons need to be often taught. Especially lessons that involve painful self-denial.
    4. Little ones - If actual children...It is a dangerous thing for parents (or other adults) to cause children to stumble and miss the way of salvation. How important it is to have a good example at home.
      1. But it may refer to status, not age...this description is likely pointing to new or immature believers, or perhaps humble or lowly disciples of Jesus.
    5. Free Cement shoes for tripping kids (6,7) Don’t cause a child of God to trip up.
    6. Millstone – The upper millstone that took a donkey to rotate.
      1. This was historically the fate of some.
    7. Make sure in your life there is nothing to make young believers to stumble.
      1. But what about my rights to drink, smoke, & chew, & run w/girls who do?
        1. All liberties stop at the door of stumbling.
      2. Christian know this…someone is watching you. Walk your talk.
        1. Jesus said, free cement shoes for tripping young believers.
    8. CONTROL WHAT YOU SEE (9) If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
    9. Tear it out and throw it from you - The seriousness of sin that requires radical action.
    10. Don’t Coddle Sin...Crucify it
      1. The last section, don’t stumble others...Now, don’t stumble yourself.
    11. Don’t pamper sin in your life.
      1. Here Jesus puts personal holiness in the most dramatic & drastic terms…in the whole bible.
      2. Deal drastically with sin like a surgeon going after the cancerous tumor; like a shark after its wounded victim.
      3. Billy Sunday, One reason sin flourishes is that it is treated like a cream puff instead of a rattlesnake.
    12. Of course the Lord is not commanding literal physical surgery. [spiritual surgery]
      1. He had already made it clear sin comes from the heart. Mrk 7:20-23
      2. Unfortunately, some in the early church took this literally. Origen of Alexandria castrated himself in an attempt to overcome sensual desires.
        1. The Council of Nicea finally outlawed this practice.
        2. Why, because you can hack off your hands, chop off your feet, & pop out your eye balls…even go get neutered...& still be the most vial of sinners.
      3. Jesus didn’t want physical mutilation but spiritual mortification.
      4. Hand, foot, & eye maybe representing the totality of life (i.e. Hand/what we do; Foot/where we go; Eye/what we see) Kent Hughes
    13. What harmful practice does He want you to cut off or out of in your life?
      1. Half-way measures just won’t do. And, no one can do it for you.
  5. Hell – Gehenna. [ge=valley - henna=hinnom]
    1. Jesus believed in a place called Gehenna. It was a place of eternal torment & righteous punishment. Wait, doesn’t that make God mean?
      1. No, A loving mother isn’t mean giving her child honest warnings, don’t go too near the fire or you might get burned, Don’t play in the road or you might get run over.
        1. These are not idle threats but realistic warnings. Part of God’s love for us is the honest warnings He gives.
      2. Jesus said, Don’t coddle sin...crucify it.
  6. DESPISING A CHILD (10-14)
    1. ​​​​​​​Their angels - The concept of guardian angels for individuals as well as nations pervades Jewish writings of this period (Dan 10:13; Acts 12:15).
      1. Heb.1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?
      2. Ps.91:11 For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.
      3. Acts 12:15,16 You’re out of your mind! they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking.
    2. 3 reasons not to Despise one of these lil one’s…
      1. Angels are interested in them (10b)
        1. Angels don’t despise the lil one’s. They watch over them & guard them, & stand in heaven’s court for them.
      2. Jesus is interested in them (11,13)
        1. He has come to find the little children.
      3. The Father is interested in them (14)
    3. So, If you despise a lil child (look down on with contempt), your coming against the Angels, The Son of God, & the Eternal Father.
    4. (13) What is Jesus’ response to a wayward sheep? (backslidden, straying)
      1. Slide17 Anger? Disgust?.....No, Joy!
      2. Lk.12:32 Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
    5. (14) If the Shepherd goes after an Adult sheep, how much more important is it that he protect the Lambs.
      1. With God it isn’t, Win a Few - Lose a Few. Or, Win some/Lose some.
    6. What is Greatness? The power to manage other men/reign over them? No, thats Tyranny.
    7. What is Christ’s standard of Greatness? Begin w/the last thing here & move backwards.
      1. Despise not a child, Offend not a child, Receive a child. How? by becoming like a child. And when you become like a child, you become Great.
        1. To Despise a child is to be out of harmony w/the Angels, The Son, & the Father.
        2. To Offend a child is to seal your doom.
        3. To Receive a child is to entertain Jesus Christ.
        4. To Be like a child is to be Great.
    8. Invite up worship team (cue for ushers to get communion, stay in back of sanct)
      1. When I start speaking - cue for ushers to pass out. I lead when all passed out.

Verses 15-20

  1. Intro:
    1. Today we have conflicts everywhere. Think of the ongoing armed conflicts between nations. Think of the strife within nations. Conflicts between the sexes, generations, races, religions, cultures, & political parties...still...even after our elections are over.
      1. (Mark Foreman) Regardless of how you specifically voted, let's each now play our important role as salt and light to our friends...Blessed are the peacemakers. I want to encourage you to reach out to those who voted differently than you did and love them by seeking to understand their view of America. Find common ground and where possible, bring opposites together in love. Our important role as Christians is now bigger than ever.
    2. This section gives us great application to Mt.5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers. What’s it’s not…
      1. Not avoiding – some say, I don’t want to rock the boat, but that’s just cowardice. Don’t run from the problem.
      2. Not appeasing – some believe in peace at any price. Or say, I just always give in. That’s codependency. That’s peace-fakers.
        1. Jesus never ran from a conflict. God blesses peacemakers. a peacemaker is a bridge builder
    3. When it comes to conflicts you are a skunk or a turtle? [Rick Warren]
      1. When the skunk in the relationship gets upset they spray & everybody knows it
      2. When the turtle in the relationship gets upset, they pull into their shell & hide.
    4. So Matthew moves from Estranged Sheep (vs.12-14 lft the 99) to Erring Sheep (vs.15).
      1. He’s speaking of interpersonal problems between Christians, that remain unresolved. These are family matters...and we can work them out.
    5. Title: We Can Work it Out. [Beatles 1965, Lennon-McCartney collaboration, 1st dble-A-sided single w/Day Tripper]
      1. Life is very short, and there's no time For fussing and fighting, my friend I have always thought that it's a crime, So I will ask you once again. Try to see it my way, Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrongWhile you see it your way Theres a chance that we may fall apart before too longWe can work it out, We can work it out. [John’s impatience(1st line) & Paul’s optimism (last line)]
      2. Sub Title: How to keep the church family happy, healthy & holy
        1. ​​​​​​​We must learn this, or be miserable. We must resolve conflict & restore relationships at...work, marriage, w/children, friends, at school, in community.
  2. WE CAN WORK IT OUT (15-20)
    1. ​​​​​​​Reconciliation, who’s job is it Anyways?
      1. Isn’t it God’s job to show people they are wrong? No. Usually in scripture he used humans for this purpose.
        1. Like Nathan w/David; Paul w/Peter; Elijah w/Ahab.
      2. Conflict doesn’t resolve itself accidentally. It must be intentional.
        1. I thought time heals all things? No, if it does the next time you go to the doctors office, just remain in waiting room. :)
        2. The only way to resolve conflict is to face it.
      3. Every member of the church of Christ has been granted the privilege of the reconciliation procedure by Jesus Christ.
    2. When Is It My Responsibility To Go?
      1. Go, if you’re in Sin - Mt.5:23,24. Go, if they are in sin - Mt.18:15.
      2. If they are in sin, shouldn’t they come to me?
        1. They might not know that they did sin against you.
        2. They might not be ready to come to you - But your attitude of submission & love will help them to repent.
      3. The Ideal is both cooling down & they meet each other on the way to each others house to seek reconciliation.
        1. It’s best when you start fighting over...it was my fault, no it was mine.
    3. How Much Time Do I Have To Start Reconciliation?
      1. Note the urgency in Mt.5:24,25. Leave it there - 1st - quickly.
        1. ​​​​​​​Note the close tie between worship & reconciliation.
      2. These are Emergency Priorities, that may not be handled casually or at one’s leisure.
    4. What If I Don’t Resolve Conflicts?
      1. It blocks my fellowship w/God [You can’t be rt w/God & wrong w/them].
      2. It blocks my prayers [God wont hear, while we stay here. 1 Pet.3:7 Treat her/ wife as you should so your prayers will not be hindered].
      3. It blocks my happiness [if your relationships stink, your life stinks].
      4. It dishonors Christ’s name. It saps strength from the congregation. It hurts everyone.
    5. What If I Do Resolve Conflicts? Purpose
      1. ​​​​​​​To preserve the honor of God’s name. To assure the purity of the Church. To reclaim & reconcile the offender. [Don’t have a good riddance attitude. Esp afterJesus’ example of leave 99 for 1]
    6. How Do I Decide When To Confront?
      1. Whatever comes between Christians Must be removed.
    7. I believe the bible reveals 2 types of Offenses: Coverable & Uncoverable.
      1. Coverable Offenses - 1 Pet.4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.
        1. ​​​​​​​Prov 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.
          1. ​​​​​​​Obviously every problem & offense cannot be raised & settled.
          2. We must learn, in love, to forgive & pass-by many slights, annoyances, & offenses.
        2. Ask yourself, Is it covered? Are you dwelling on it? Can you drop it? Is it eating you up? Are you finding others to talk about it w/you?
      2. Uncoverable Offenses - If the matter continues to rattle around inside or carry over till the next day, it should be handled.
        1. If it drives a wedge between 2 Christian brothers/sisters the wedge must be removed.
    8. How Do I Confront? The Five Steps of Instruction…
    9. STEP#1 KEEP IT PRIVATE (15)
      1. Alone - Keep the Circle small.
        1. Anything else is Gossip. But I need counsel. Be careful...it seems that that is in the next step.
      2. Gaining a Brother - This is our Goal. The very heart of the issue is to gain back a bro/sis.
        1. Above all else, go to him w/the idea of winning your brother, not an Argument.
        2. It is possible to win the argument & lose your brother.
      3. Some Principles: Don’t condemn the offender. Don’t hold it in. Don’t let it out (Gossip).
        1. Watch out for the Transmutable Disease of Gossip or leprosy of the tongue. If 2 couples have a problem, & each of the 4 told only 2 friends, which only tell there spouse, now 20 people are involved. [No wonder why Jesus & Paul compared sin to leaven]
      4. Our Attitude: if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Gal.6:1
        1. Restore - used especially as a surgical term, of setting a bone or joint. Which obviously requires patience & tenderness.
          1. Our attitude should not be that of a policeman out to arrest a criminal, but rather that of a physician seeking to heal a wound in the body of Christ, a wound that will spread sickness and death if left alone.
        2. Note: this doesn’t necessarily mean only one visit. Make every possible attempt to do this before going on.
    10. STEP#2 GET HELP FROM A FEW (16)
    11. Do you know why to bring in 1 or 2 more? INTIMIDATION!!! :)
      1. No! The opposite. Bring in worthy arbitrators the offender could receive from.
        1. These Partners can assist in Prayer, Persuasion, & Witnesses of the truth of the conversation.
      2. Note again, this isn’t necessarily only a 1 time shot either [perhaps several visits]
        1. They must work at this until they’ve reached reconciliation, or are convinced it must go to step #3.
      3. Note: it doesn’t call for: 2 pastors, or Elders, or Deacons, but 2 Christians. It is ALL of our jobs!
    12. STEP#3 GET HELP FROM THE CHURCH (17a)
      1. Telling it to the Church is still a part of trying to Win an erring brother.
      2. Very rarely does it have to come to this if the 1st steps were done properly.
      3. I believe that taking it to the church isn’t for public humiliation, but is broadening the circle once again. Bringing in All friends now for again...restoration purposes.
    13. STEP#4 TREAT HIM LIKE A HEATHEN/TAX COLLECTOR (17b)
      1. This means that you treat him as an unbeliever. It doesn’t say that you are judging if the person is saved or not, you don’t know.
      2. So, how do we treat unbelievers? We seek their salvation. We are kind towards them. We show love towards them.
        1. They obviously shouldn’t serve in any capacity in the church.
      3. It also hinders true Fellowship w/them.
    14. STEP#5 KEEP THE LOCAL CHURCH SPIRITUAL (18-20)
      1. Jesus adds some words about Authority, Prayer, & Fellowship.
    15. Authority (18)
      1. Church discipline doesn’t refer to a group of Christian policemen throwing their weight around. Rather, it means God is exercising His authority in & thru a local body, to restore one of His erring children.
      2. Paul bound the offending brother in (1Cor.5) & loosed him after he had confessed (2Cor. 2)
    16. Prayer (19)
      1. Agree - (sumphoneo) our English word Symphony. These are sounds that agree, though not identical, they agree in general.
        1. ​​​​​​​A number of Christians concurring in an opinion.
      2. We can also note the Power of combined Prayer.
    17. Fellowship (20)
      1. The local Church must be a worshiping community, recognizing the presence of the Lord in their midst.
      2. The Presence of the Lord is: God’s presence is...The Fixed Center of the Assembly. The Reason for its coming together. & The Power w/which it acts.
    18. Couldn’t all offenses between 2 brothers be mended by simply putting this last verse (20) before vs.15?
    19. I just know church that if God is calling us to this...then, We can work it out. We can work it out.
    20. Rom.12:18, If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
    21. 2 Cor.5:18-20 nlt All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.
    22. W.It’s always more rewarding to resolve conflict than dissolve a relationship.
    23. The more insecure you are, the more you try to control things in your life. The most controlling people are the most insecure people.
    24. 112 years ago, a large statue of Christ was erected high in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile. Called Christ The Redeemer of the Andes, the statue symbolizes a pledge between the 2 countries that as long as the statue stands, there will be peace between Chile and Argentina. Shortly after the statue was erected, the Chileans began to protest that they had been slighted - the statue had its back turned to Chile. Just when tempers were at their highest in Chile, a Chilean newspaperman saved the day. In an editorial that not only satisfied the people but made them laugh, he simply said, “The people of Argentina need more watching over than the Chileans.” March 13, 1904
      1. [made from the cannons of war] Engraved at the feet in Spanish are the words, "Sooner shall these mountains crumble into dust than Chileans and Argentineans break the peace which at the feet of Christ, the Redeemer, they have sworn to maintain."

Verses 21-35

  1. Intro: 490
    1. All Forgivenesses Are Not Alike
    2. Did you know that the only animal the grizzly would allow to eat with him is the skunk. Grizzly bears in Yellowstone Park often come to eat at the place where garbage is dumped. This huge bear can fight and beat almost any animal in the West, but it lets the skunk share its meal. The grizzly surely resents the skunk and could have easily killed the little creature in any fight. No doubt the bear would have liked to have gotten even with him for his intrusion. But he didn’t. Why? Because he knew the high cost of getting even.
      1. Bitterness is the most dangerous of all plagues to healthy Christian living. It is the “cancer of the soul”, and it claims millions of victims each year. It spreads faster than the common cold.
      2. Yet there is a cure for this plague. It is in the word forgive. The word is a common one, but the essence of the word is in the last part, give. To for GIVE means to give someone a release from the wrong that he has done to you. It means to give up any right of retaliation.
      3. God’s forgiveness, which must coordinate with His justice, is based upon the payment of the penalty by a substitute. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross.
    3. When God forgives He forgives completely. This is Judicial Forgiveness. It is one of 3 kinds of forgiveness in the Bible. [All Forgivenesses Are Not Alike]
      1. Judicial Forgiveness - is the eternal forgiveness of all sins of the one who has trusted Christ. This has to do with the believer’s relationship with God. It is once for all, eternal, and conditioned only on faith in Christ. Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt. Ps.32:1,2a nlt
        1. You can say right now, as I have trusted Christ, all my sins past, present, and future are forgiven. God remembers my sin no more.
      2. Paternal Forgiveness - is the restoration of fellowship with God the Father after the believer has broken fellowship by continued, unconfessed sin. This has to do with the believer’s fellowship with God.
        1. The conditions to this kind of forgiveness are twofold:
          1. Confession
            1. ​​​​​​​1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
            2. John 13:10 Jesus to Peter/while washing feet A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean
            3. Matt. 6:12 forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us - remember, this is a daily prayer by a believer.
          2. Forgiveness of others (see next one)
      3. Personal Forgiveness - is the restoration of fellowship w/another human being
        1. This facet of forgiveness is so important that Jesus conditions our forgiveness and restoration to fellowship w/the Father on our willingness to forgive others.Matt. 6:14,15; 18:21-35; Luke 6:37; Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:31–32
        2. Personal forgiveness has a vertical dimension - we must release the person to God.
        3. Personal forgiveness has a horizontal dimension - we must confront the offender and forgive if he repents.
          1. Lk.17:3,4 If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.
          2. 2 things: if he repents & if he says/not nec shows.
        4. You might think, what if I’m taken advantage of? Well, what if Jesus asked that same question right before going to the cross?
          1. God absorbed the hurt of our sin on the cross & offers us forgiveness & reconciliation.
        5. Ps: They’re not going to get away with murder. Maybe get away w/it from you...but NOT from God…the woe still hangs around their neck/millstone (Lk.17:1,2).
  2. HOW OFTEN? (21,22)
    1. ​​​​​​​(21) 7 Times? maybe this was from…
      1. ​​​​​​​The day of Atonement in Lev16 where there was a 7-fold sprinkling of blood. 1 to atone for the sin of the world w/a goat (other 1 scape-goat). And another a 7-fold sprinkling of blood from a bull for the atonement of himself/priest & his family.
      2. Or it was from the Jews understanding of Job 33:29,30 i.e. forgiving 3 times.
        1. Behold, God works all these things, twice - in fact 3 times w/a man, to bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.
        2. Peter sensed the Lord’s attitude was much more gracious, so he ramped it up all the way to 7 x’s!
    2. (22) Imagine Jesus answering, Yes, Peter, that is enough.
      1. ​​​​​​​Jesus, doesn’t unlimited mercy encourage a life of sin? Jesus, wouldn’t you agree, enough is enough?
    3. Did 490 times startle Peter? Who could keep tract of that many offenses?
      1. That was the point. 1 Cor.13:5 says, Love keeps no records of wrongs.
      2. Forgive that many times & you’ll be in the habit of forgiving.
        1. As long long as one can say, I have forgiven my brother X number of times, one is not showing forgiveness.
        2. The answer of How Often is quickly answered by Every Time!
        3. The fundamental error was trying to put a limit on forgiveness.
        4. W/love there can be no limits.
      3. It’s true Peter didn’t go far enough...but do WE go as far? - When was the last time you had to go to 7?
    4. Jesus now goes into a Parable: But he doesn’t tell of a story of a man who repeatedly, day after day, stands before his Master to ask forgiveness for sins he repeatedly commits. Instead - To give expression to our debt w/God, He teaches the story of the man who owed his master a tremendous debt.
  3. FABULOUS FORGIVENESS (23-27) Scene1
    1. ​​​​​​​(23) Note the overall theme in vs.35 Brother to Brother forgiveness.
      1. One of the most effective ways God has for keeping us “Forgiveness-Conscious” is our relationship w/other bel.’s.
      2. In the daily pressure & disagreements of life, we have many reminders of what God has done for us.
    2. (24,25) Here we have Pure Justice.
      1. This servant did owe the debt. That was never an issue. It was a debt the servant could not pay back.
        1. A talent was the largest denomination in their monetary system.
        2. For comparison Herod the Great’s annual revenue from his entire kingdom was about 900 talents. [Joseph,Antiq.17:318-20] About $10 million in todays buying power.
          1. Since God’s love can’t be measured, it’s approximated w/a sum which ran into the millions.
        3. A man would have to work 15 yrs to earn 1 Talent. This was an enormous amount to impress the hearer w/the tragic circumstance of this debtor. [10,000 x’s 15 yrs = 150,000years to pay off]
    3. Man’s debt is so great that God has to forgive us infinitely more than the numerical count of 70 x 7.
    4. This man was Absolutely Helpless...except for one thing...The king was a man of Compassion. He assumed the loss & forgave the servant.
      1. 1. The servant was 100% undeserving of this.
    5. One was brought to him - He would have never came on his own.
      1. He also would have run up his debt unto 20,000 Talents, for the sinner goes on storing up an even greater sum. [treasuring up - nkjv]
        1. Rom.2:5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
    6. (26) He pleads for Mercy, not for Remission - He promised Restitution, which he knew he couldn’t pay back.
    7. (27) He receives what he least expected...an Acquittal! Incredible. What Joy. What Kindness...how will he show his gratitude?
  4. JUGULAR JUSTICE (28-30) Scene2
    1. ​​​​​​​(28) Descending down the steps of the royal palace, he runs into an old buddy who owes him about 4 months of a wage.
      1. The servant immediately becomes Policeman, Judge, & Jury.
      2. Amazing how quick this Mercy was forgotten.
      3. This debt was insignificant compared to what the servant had owed the king.
      4. What he should have shared was the Joy of his own release.
      5. A truly forgiven man reflects God’s mercy & compassion.
    2. (29) The plea is by no accident identical.
      1. At least this man had a good shot at paying it back.
      2. He gives no time in which to pay it back, no interest to tack to it, not the slightest budge to work with him.
    3. (30) Not that he could not, but he would not.
      1. Instead of letting mercy triumph, he chose to have justice triumph.
        1. George Herbert, He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.
      2. He wanted justice - so in return he had to face the king one last time & he received justice back.
        1. Often we look at justice as the norm, & mercy as an occasional abandonment of that norm.
        2. We look at showing mercy as our right when we feel like being lenient.
  5. MAD MASTER (31-35) Scene3
    1. ​​​​​​​In the last act of this drama he faces an Angry Master. Justice is administered w/o Mercy.
      1. The forgiven man did have the Legal right to throw him in prison, but he didn’t have the Moral right.
    2. (31) The servants were very grieved, the king was angry (34).
      1. We grieve over another’s sin; but God has a pure Hatred over it.
    3. (32) because you begged me - not because you deserved it.
    4. (33) The guilt laid to his charge is not that needing mercy he refused to show it, but that having received mercy, he remains unmerciful still.
      1. To be forgiven is the root; to forgive is the flower.
    5. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​(34) The king originally delivered him from prison, but the servant put himself back in.
      1. So you want Justice? OK, so be it.
      2. James 2:13 For judgment is w/o mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.
      3. Pay all that was due to him - He is expressing the eternal duration of this punishment.
    6. (35) Note this verse stresses that forgiveness is a matter of the heart.
      1. Is forgiveness just a feeling you have toward somebody, or are there some definite conditions that must be met, if forgiveness is to be real?
      2. Lord, may my heart be as ready to pardon offenses as it is to beat.
  6. Wrap Up:
    1. ​​​​​​​We need to Receive Forgiveness, Experience Forgiveness, & then Share Forgiveness
      1. Have you only received forgiveness, or have you really experienced it to the point that you share it with others?
    2. I’ve been in some pretty bad prisons in PI, Haiti, Russia, Ukraine. But the world’s worse prison is the prison of an unforgiving heart.
      1. Some of the most miserable people are people who have not forgiven someone. Is that you? We are the losers if we do not forgive others.
      2. We have Nothing to lose & Everything to gain when we practice Forgiveness.
    3. Eph.4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Matthew 18". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/matthew-18.html. 2017.