Pray: To open your time together.
Read: Ephesians 2:8-9; Matthew 18:23-35
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
In his letter to the church in Ephesis, Paul gives one of his clearest articulations of the Christian faith, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Paul makes clear that grace is purely an outflow of God’s love for us as part of God’s divine nature. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace and there is nothing we can do to separate us from God’s love. Our role in this relationship is to receive God’s grace through faith that what God says is true is truly true and what God has done for us through Jesus is truly enough. No addition. No subtraction. Only faith.
Jesus shares a parable with his disciples about God’s capacity to forgive, and in response to his forgiveness, God’s expectation of our capacity to forgive others. Read Matthew 18: 23-35 out load together. There are three main characters in this story: the master, the man with the great debt, and the man with the small debt. Consider the story from each of their perspective. See the questions below for some ideas of how to process this story.
Perhaps the most difficult part of this parable is how the story ends. Jesus is clear that unforgiveness will not be tolerated in His kingdom. While the intensity of the master’s anger toward the man with a great debt can steal the focus of the story, we must remember the purpose and context in which Jesus is teaching. Just before telling this parable (see Matthew 18:15-21), Jesus and the disciples are discussing how to deal with sin in the church, and Peter asks the obvious question, “How many times must I forgive someone who sins against me? Is seven times enough?” Jesus replies, “not seven, but seventy-seven”. The grace God offers us, and in turn, expects from us is an extravagant grace. No wonder He treats it with such intensity when it is cheapened and abused by those He has forgiven.
Do you think of grace as a gift from God? When you consider God’s gift of grace for you what effect does that have on the way you see God, yourself, and the world around you?
As you read Jesus’ story from Matthew 18:
What does the king experience in the story?
What does the man with great debt experience in the story?
What does the man with small debt experience in the story?
What is the point Jesus in making in the story?
What does the story tell you about God’s character?
How have you embodied each of these characters from the story at different times in your life?
Spend some time praying for one another. For those who need to repent of the way they have cheapened God’s grace, make time and space for confession and repentance. Be sure to remind one another of God’s extravagant grace for this moment.