INTRODUCTION: What a relief! We have studied our way through the
poor, the mourning, the meek and the hungry. Finally we come to an
attribute that sounds good without needing an extended explanation!
Let's see what we can learn about mercy!
I. WHAT DOES MERCY MEAN?
A. Turn with me to Matthew 5:7. Read.
B. If someone said to me, "you are a merciful
guy," I would
consider that a compliment. How about you? Would you like
people to consider you to be merciful?
1. What is your definition of mercy?
C. Is it mercy to give someone a break who deserves it?
D. Is it mercy to give someone a break who
does not deserve
E. Should mercy be shown to those who take
1. How much advantage?
For example, should we show mercy
a. Wife beaters?
b. Child molesters?
(1) I tried to list these in order of
increasing harm. My thought was that if
someone took your life, they would have taken
more advantage than beating you. Do you agree?
(a) Hold that thought as we look at a
II. CHRIST'S STORY ABOUT MERCY.
A. Turn with me to Matthew 18:23-27. Read.
What do you think
Jesus means when He says, "the kingdom of heaven is like [this
story I'm going to tell you?]" (I think He is saying that He
is giving us a lesson about eternal life. If we aspire to go
to heaven, this story applies to us!)
B. Who is settling accounts in this story?
(The king, not the
1. If this story
is about us, who does the king
2. We learn that
one servant of the kingdom owed the king
10,000 talents. Do you have any idea how much money a
talent represents? (It is about $250,000 -- adjusted for
a. How much money is 10,000 talents? (My poor math
tells me that 250k x 10k = $2,500,000,000! Two and
one half billion!)
3. What does
this number alone tell us about this
4. Would anyone loan you 2.5 billion?
a. How about 2.5 billion without collateral? (This
servant must have been special. Certainly he was
no ordinary servant. No one would loan me 2.5
billion -- especially without collateral! So this
servant was rich and influential. He was the Donald
Trump of the time.)
the servant want to see the king? (No! He
"was brought"(v.24) to the king.)
6. Would you
rather be dead, than be sold, along with
your family, as slaves?
7. What if you
were one of the most prominent, wealthiest
families? What if you had a home in Europe, in Asia, in
Brazil and a couple in the U.S.? (The fall is so great,
the humility so large, I imagine that he would rather
8. What does
the servant ask for? (Patience to pay the
whole thing back.)
9. Does the king
give him what he asked for? (No. The
king canceled his debt. He did more than he asked!)
a. Why would you cancel a debt when you could get
the 2.5 billion back with time? (The king
apparently felt he could never pay or had a very
C. Remember this parable starts out, "the kingdom
of heaven is
like ... [this story.]" (v.23) Does this mean that the kingdom
of heaven is composed of people who forgive?
1. Who is doing
the forgiving here? (The king! The
kingdom of heaven is composed of a king who forgives 2.5
2. Who is the
forgiven servant in the kingdom of heaven?
(Us. Donald trump is us! Ephesians 2:1 tells us we were
dead in our sins. Ephesians 2:12 tells us we were without
hope and without God. We had a 2.5 billion dollar debt
and no realistic way to pay it back.)
D. Would you call this king merciful?
1. Is the servant worthy?
2. Had he taken
advantage of the king? How much
advantage? (2.5 billion worth of advantage in the end.)
E. Let's read on. Matt. 18:28-30. A hundred
denarii is a few
thousand dollars. A denarii was worth about 8 cents in the 1st
century AD, but was a day's wages for a laborer. So, adjusted
for inflation, let's say a denarii is about $50.00. So this
debt is $5,000.
1. What does
the fellow servant request? (The same thing;
more time to pay back the debt.)
2. Does the forgiven
servant give him more time? (No. He
throws him in jail where he has no opportunity to pay
back the debt.)
a. What else does the forgiven servant do that shows
he is a "less than friendly" kind of guy? (He
chokes his fellow servant. He was entitled to
money. He was not entitled to physically abuse the
b. Is the king entitled to abuse his servants? (Yes.
These two servants are theoretically equals. But
the king is not the equal of the servant.)
3. Notice the
irony. The king gives the forgiven servant
more than he asks. The forgiven servant gives his fellow
servant less than he asks. And the king is entitled to
inflict more harm than a fellow servant.
F. Read vv. 31-34. Who blows the whistle on
servant? (Verse 31 "The other servants.")
1. Why do the
other servants blow the whistle on the
forgiven servant? (They are outraged at the disparity in
III. APPLICATION TIME
A. Tell me about your debt to God?
1. What do you owe Him?
2. What did He give you?
a. Did He give you your life?
b. The life of your spouse?
c. The lives of your children?
d. The lives of your parents?
3. What did you
cost Him? (Didn't He give His only Son's
life for your life and the lives of those you love most?
B. Remember that I asked you to "hold that
thought" some time
ago? The thought that you were holding was that someone who
takes your life, takes the most advantage of you.
1. Did you take
God's life? (Actually, you did not "take
it." And, you did not mean to take it. He gave it. He
meant to give it. But the cost is the same. He died for
our sins. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 3:25.)
C. What is the definition of mercy that we
draw from the
example of the king in the parable? (To forgive more than we
are asked to forgive.)
1. What is the
lesson of the parable? (That the servant
who was forgiven much, refused to forgive, and refused to
forgive considerably less than he was forgiven.)
2. Should we
forgive wife beaters? Child molesters?
a. If, as you agreed before, these are "lesser
crimes" than murder, and if, as you agreed before,
you cost God His life, then are you bound to
forgive these lesser crimes?
D. Re-read Matthew 18:33-35 and Matthew 5:7.
teaching the same principle?
1. Do they reach
the same conclusion? (No! The "end" of
Matthew 5:7 is mercy. The "end" of Matthew 18:34-35 is
2. How can the
king who showed more mercy than he
was asked to give, now torture his servant?
3. What lesson
is there in this? That if someone we
forgive, does not forgive others, we should torture them?
(No. The question about wife beaters, rapists and
murderers that I asked earlier are very difficult if you
have been through an experience involving one of these
crimes. The difference I see that is reflected in our
parable is that God has the authority to punish. God
establishes the state (Romans 13:1-5) and God has
authorized the death penalty for some crimes.
(Deuteronomy 17). Jesus does not indicate that the
"fellow servants" in our parable (Matthew 18:31) sinned
by telling the king about what happened. I think we can
take comfort in the state punishing crime. However,
whatever the state does, God calls on us to forgive the
most heinous crimes against us.)
4. This morning
I ask you to just take a second and
consider the terrible crime you have committed against
E. Now friends, is there anyone who you have not forgiven?
Anyone against whom you hold a grudge? Anyone to who you have
not shown mercy? God gave you your life, the life of your
spouse, the lives of your parents and the lives of your
children. You all deserved to die -- forever. Compare what
God has given you (and forgiven you) with the "injury"
inflicted upon you by the person you have not forgiven. The
disparity is so great, even your "fellow servants" realize the
injustice of your attitude. "Blessed are the merciful, for
they will receive mercy."
1. What do you
think Jesus means in Matt. 18:35 when He
says, "forgive your brother from your heart?"
a. Have you forgiven your brother "from the heart"
when you say, "I'll forgive, but I'll not forget?"
2. Unless we
are willing to overlook insults,
overlook offenses, overlook personal injustice, we do not
understand what Jesus has done for us.
His forgiveness, gave you your life.
His forgiveness gave your husband, your wife, life.
His forgiveness, gave your children their lives.
His forgiveness, gave your parents their lives.
He is a great and merciful God who is looking for
merciful followers! "Blessed are the merciful, for they
will be shown mercy!"
IV. NEXT WEEK: "THE PURE IN HEART," Matthew 5:8. Study!