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Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
(Matthew 18:21–35 NIV)


Have a family member pray for your time together.

Ask God to help everyone in the family understand His Word and who He is.



Someone has offended or sinned against most of us. Someone might have taken something which belonged to you. A person might have told lies about you or treated you unkindly. Someone might have taken your toy or broken something that was special or important to you. A person might have been jealous, envious, angry without cause, or just inconsiderate. Maybe they broke line in a store or, more likely, in a line of traffic. Perhaps, someone made a mistake at work and blamed it on you.

Ask each family member to share a time when someone did something for which you needed to forgive. (Took a toy, a friend was unkind, treated you badly, etc.)

In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus explained how to approach someone who sinned against you. There are four steps

Speak to the one who sinned against you by yourself.

If that doesn't work, take two or three witnesses with you.

If you are still unsuccessful, take the matter before the church.

If the person still doesn't listen, treat that person like an unbeliever.

I have noticed people who have wronged another want mercy, and people who have been wronged want justice. If we wrong someone, we want to be forgiven. If someone wrongs us, we want them to suffer some consequence for their actions. So did Peter. That is why he asked Jesus a very important question: "How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Seven times?" Peter probably thought that sounded like a lot of times. He probably thought he was being generous with his number. He might have even expected Jesus to compliment him because of his merciful heart. A saying in our culture only allows for one forgiving moment. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

In response, Jesus gave Peter an astronomical number: seventy times seven or 490. Jesus didn't mean for you to literally count up to 490 times. Twice in this chapter, Jesus used exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. This is the first time.

One should not interpret a specific number but an unusually large number with symbolic significance of being totally adequate or complete. The number is designed to break through any notion that there are limits to forgiveness: one is to keep on forgiving far beyond the point where one has lost count of the wrongs. This is not intended to encourage the passive acceptance of wrongs. Remember Matthew 18:15 contains language of reproof. Jesus also said we should be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. (Mt 10:16) We continue to forgive although we are cautious not to be taken advantage of.

Ask the children how many times they can do various tasks. “How many pushups can you do? How many times can you bounce a ping pong ball on a paddle? How many times can you bounce a hacky sack off your knee? How many free throws can you score in a row?” Have the children attempt these tasks. Ask if anyone can complete these tasks 490 times in a row without messing up. Let them try. The point of the game is to show that it is nearly impossible to do something 490 times. This idea ties in with today’s lesson. The exact activities you do don’t matter, as long as they get the wiggles out of the kids and show them how hard it is to do something 490 times.

To emphasize His point, Jesus told the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Again, Jesus used exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. It would be almost impossible for a servant to owe his master 10,000 talents. Each talent equals 6,000 denarii. One denarius equals one day's wage. The servant would need to work 60,000,000 days to pay off his debt! Wow! That is 164,383 1/2 years! I don't think he will make it. And with that number, he can't use any of his money for himself. Exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. Have you been forgiven by someone? Have you ever received a “time-out” pardon? Or had a grounding lifted before its appointed ending time?

Jesus' point is beautiful and clear. There isn't a limit or cap on God's forgiveness. The magnitude of God's forgiveness in overwhelming. Would you like to stop and count how many sins you have committed in your lifetime?

The servant was forgiven 10,000 talents but would not forgive 100 denarii. The king was furious. He couldn't believe the person he had just forgiven refused to be forgiving himself. Remember the correlation between values? 60,000,000 to 100. How many sins have you committed against God versus how many sins have been committed against you?

Your Father in heaven will treat you the same way unless you forgive your brother and sister from your hearts. (Mt. 18:35)

How do we apply the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant?

Forgive as God forgave you.

Forgive as you have been forgiven.

If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven.

Are there some things you can share with your family that you struggle to forgive someone for?

Can someone share the relief of being forgiven?

Can someone share the relief of forgiving a grudge?


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