Truth Quest Study: The Unmerciful Servant
Jesus had been teaching His disciples when Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Peter suggested seven times. Jews considered it standard to show forgiveness three times (see Job 33:29-30), so Peter probably thought he was going above and beyond. Jesus answered Peter’s question by telling a story about an unmerciful servant.
In the parable, a servant owed his master ten thousand talents. A talent was equal to about 20 years of wages. Ten thousand talents represented a debt that could never be repaid. Faced with debtors’ prison, the servant begged for more time to repay the master. Instead, the master released his servant and forgave the great debt.
The same servant went out and confronted a man who owed him a hundred denarii—about 100 days of wages. The man begged for more time, but the servant refused and put the man in prison. When the master heard what happened, he was angry that the servant who had been forgiven a great debt did not show mercy to the man who owed a small debt. So the master put the man in prison until he could pay his debt. Jesus concluded the parable by explaining that God would react in the same way to anyone who does not forgive his brother.
We are like the servant, and God is like the master.
Nothing we do is enough to pay the debt we owe God and take away God’s punishment for our sin. Jesus came and died on the cross to pay for our sin and take the punishment we deserve. When we trust in Jesus, God forgives our sin completely. We can forgive others because God has greatly forgiven us.
As you talk with your kids, emphasize that God shows mercy to us so that we will show mercy to others—not just three times or seven times, but many, many times—not keeping count. We have been forgiven a great debt, so we can forgive others when they sin against us.
FAMILY STARTING POINTS
- Why did Jesus tell stories? Jesus told stories to teach people about God.
- Jesus taught about God's forgiveness
- Why did Jesus tell parables? Jesus told parables to teach people about God and His Kingdom.
- God shows mercy to us so that we will show mercy to others.
Take-Home Activity Pages