Pentecost 15 2020 Proper 19
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
September 12, 13, 2020
Genesis 50:15-21, Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35

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            How many times have you sinned?  Today? This week?  This year?  Over your lifetime?  If each of your sins was a brick, how many bricks would you have piled up?  Every sinful thing you have done is another brick in the pile.  Every sinful word you have spoken in anger or hatred or lies is another brick.  Every sinful thought you have is another brick in the pile.  The bricks rain down on your pile and it grows and grows by the minute, the hour, the day, the year, the lifetime.  If every sin you have ever committed is a brick in the pile, how big is your pile of sin?

That is a lot of bricks; a lot of weight.  It is a great burden.  That is an insurmountable pile of bricks.  What do you do about that load of sin? 

            This world is a kingdom of sin; the kingdom of the Devil.  In this kingdom of sin it is a dog eat dog world.  Sin is everywhere and so, it seems, sin does not matter.  In this kingdom people get what they can get for themselves regardless of what it costs others; money…power…sex.  They blame and they hate and they seek revenge.  They live by the motto, “do unto others before they do it to you.”  In this kingdom there is pride in sin. There is boasting in sin.  This is normal life in the Kingdom of Sin with its ever growing piles of sin reaching up toward the sky.  The debt to God continually increases. 

Now, all people have an inbred sense of right and wrong.  In the Kingdom of Sin if someone becomes concerned about sin, they may try to do something about it.  They may try to make a deal with the gods.  They may try to excuse their sin or rationalize their sin or try to come up with their own way to work off the sin and pay the gods off.  But their gods are fiction and their sin debt is insurmountable.  It cannot be paid off.

            We see this in our Gospel lesson this week.  A servant has an overwhelming debt to his master.  To repay 10,000 talents the servant would have to work 60 million days.  The master calls the servant in, Matthew 18:25-26 (ESV) 25And 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. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’[1] Patience?  Waiting 60 million days would be a lot of patience.  The man owes more than he could pay in 2,000 lifetimes.  There is no way the man can pay, but out of pity the master forgives the servant’s debt.  That huge, unpayable debt is erased.  It is wiped away.  Forgiven.

            That servant is you.  You owe God an insurmountable debt because of your sin.  You have that enormous, growing pile of sin.  You know you cannot pay this debt and you cry out for mercy and God has mercy on you.  God the Father sends Jesus to pay the price for your sin.  Jesus gives up everything on the cross to ransom you from sin, death and the devil.  Jesus is stripped of everything.  He gives up His dignity, His blood, His breath, His life, all to pay your debt.  Jesus forgives your sin. 

So the question is, how much of your sin does Jesus forgive?  How many bricks of your sin does Jesus remove?  How many are left for you?

            Jesus takes away all your sin.  Jesus removes all your sin and declares you to be righteous, innocent and blessed which means you are righteous, innocent and blessed.  Jesus takes you from the Kingdom of Sin; the Kingdom of the Devil, and brings you into the Kingdom of Heaven.  He takes you from darkness to the light.  Jesus delivers forgiveness to you in His Word, in the waters of baptism, in the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion. 

In the Kingdom of Heaven your sin is gone; all gone.  Not one sin left.  Not one brick left of the giant pile.  This is a miracle of God.  Jesus, in His great mercy, forgives you all your sins.  Remain in Christ.  Hold onto His gift of mercy and live your life in the Kingdom of Heaven.  In this Kingdom, forgiveness reigns…love reigns…mercy reigns.  Love God and love your neighbor.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Forgive others as God has forgiven you.  Cling to the mercy of the cross and have mercy on others.  Forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive.

            Forgiven means God is not going to hold your sin against you.  We say forgive and forget.  The “forget” part does not mean that God has no knowledge of your sin. The “forget” part means God no longer holds that sin against you. 

            And what does it mean to forgive?

            Sometimes when a person tells you they are sorry for something they did to you the response might be, “It’s okay.  No big deal.”  Sometimes things are no big deal, but saying this can make you believe that to forgive someone is to say that what they did is okay.  That is certainly not what forgiveness means.  When Jesus forgives all your sins He does not say that your sin is okay.  He is whipped for your sin.  He is crucified for your sin.  He sheds His blood for your sin.  He dies for your sin.  Your sin is not okay.  But it is forgiven.

            Forgiven means God is not going to hold your sin against you.  We say forgive and forget.  The “forget” part does not mean that God has no knowledge of your sin. The “forget” part means God no longer holds that sin against you. 

God has great mercy on you in Jesus. Hold on to that mercy and let go of bitterness and revenge.  Cling to the cross of Christ and forgive others even when they don’t deserve it.  Forgive them.  And this means you promise to not hold their sin against them.

            Forgiveness is easy to say… and hard to do.  It is easy to receive… and hard to give.  Forgiveness is very difficult…incredibly difficult.  Your natural reaction when someone hurts you is hurt them back, worse. That is the name of the game in the Kingdom of Sin.  We see the servant in Jesus’ parable doing this very thing.  He is shown great mercy, but falls right back into the Kingdom of Sin. The unmerciful servant lets go of the master’s mercy and grabs the club of revenge to exact repayment from a fellow servant.  The servant gives up His place in the Kingdom of Forgiveness in order to get what he has coming.  And, sadly, he does indeed get what he has coming…eternal punishment.

            This world is a kingdom of sin, but you have been transferred to the Kingdom of Heaven.  The rules are different.  The Kingdom of Heaven is ruled by forgiveness.  Live in the Kingdom of Heaven with all of your sins taken away; every last brick gone. As someone who has been forgiven all your sins, it is necessary for you to forgive those who sin against you.  If you cannot forgive someone, you need to repent of that sin, confess that sin, and receive forgiveness, and forgive.

            Peter knows about forgiveness but he thinks there should be limits.  Peter’s question to Jesus prompts the parable of the unmerciful servant.  Matthew 18:21 (ESV) 21 Then Peter came up and said to [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”[2] 

            Forgiving someone seven times is a lot; foolish really.  Once or twice, okay, but seven times.  That is absurdly generous.  It is absurdly generous, but Jesus says it is not enough.  Matthew 18:22 (ESV) 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.[3]  Jesus tells Peter that absurdly generous forgiveness is inadequate.  Forgiveness in the Kingdom of Heaven is much more than that.  Forgiveness in the Kingdom of Heaven is more because forgiveness in the Kingdom of Heaven is forgiving like Jesus forgives. 

            Jesus forgives you all your sins.  Jesus forgives you in a way that is beyond absurdly generous.  How many times has Jesus forgiven you for that same stupid sin?  It is more than seven times.  It is more than 490 times.  Jesus keeps on forgiving you.  Jesus’ forgiveness of you does not make sense.  But He keeps on forgiving. 

You live in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Hold onto God’s mercy.  Give up on revenge.  Release your bitterness.  Forgive. Promise to not hold it against them. Forgive others as God forgives you because, in Christ, you are righteous, innocent and blessed. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

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