Dollars and Cents


Dollars and cents... talents and denarii... money.

In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Jesus told about a man who owed a hundred denarii. In first-century Israel, a denarii was the amount of money that a laborer would be paid for a day’s work. Let’s say a guy gets paid $10 per hour and he works for 10 hours. I’m not great with math, but I used all ten fingers, and I think the guy gets paid a hundred bucks ... that’s a denarii. A hundred denarii is ... carry the one... get out the calculator... $10,000. Wow, that’s a bunch!

In the same parable, Jesus used another monetary value, a talent. A talent is what a laborer could earn in twenty years. So, let’s say the laborer worked 300 days in a year... get out the abacus ... better yet, the calculator... $30,000 each year ... times twenty years ... A talent is worth $600,000. But, the guy in the parable didn’t owe a talent, he owed ten thousand talents... That’s six billion ... nine zeros ... that’s like counting to a million, six thousand times! ... Six billion dollars!

Ok, Matthew 18.

Peter prompted Jesus: “Andrew’s been messing with me. I know I should forgive him, but since I’m your right-hand-man, I’m going to forgive him seven times!” Peter knew that Jesus was going to pat him on the back, but Jesus said, “Nope! You need to forgive him seventy times seven.” Calculator again... 490 times!

That’s when Jesus started the parable. Jesus told about a guy who owed six billion dollars ... nine zeros!

“And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything’ ” (Matthew 18:25-26, ESV).

Is that all that you have to say to your banker? ... Please! Give me a little more time!

“And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:27, ESV).

Oh, I get it! That’s just like Jesus! I owed an un-payable debt, and He took compassion on my plight. He forgave the debt! With His blood, He wrote, PAID IN FULL!

But I digress. That’s not the end of the parable.

The forgiven debtor immediately left the master’s presence and found a buddy who owed him a hundred denarii... ten thousand dollars. (Petty cash compared to six billion.)

“Seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt” (Matthew 18:28-30, ESV).

Ponder that!

Jesus taught us, “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven ... and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:9-12, ESV).

I can sound a lot like Peter. “But Jesus, that guy has really been messing with me... Should I forgive him again?”

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