Matthew’s gospel records six parables in Matthew 13 that start, “the kingdom of heaven is like. . .” Three more gospels of the kingdom appear later in Matthew. In this post, we will look at the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35), which starts, “the kingdom of heaven is like a king . . .”
The parable immediately follows Peter’s question about forgiveness. According to typical rabbinic teaching, forgiveness was unnecessary after the third offense. Peter asked if he needed to forgive seven times. In other words, Peter asked if forgiving more than twice as much as other rabbis required is good enough.… Read the rest
Sunday school children always get to learn about Zacchaeus, a short man who had to climb a tree to see Jesus. We see that no one liked Zacchaeus much and found Jesus’ interest in Zacchaeus rather offensive. But Jesus proclaimed that salvation had come to him. It’s salvation, not the tree climbing, that makes Zacchaeus worth knowing about.
In Luke 19:1-10, Jesus is passing through Jericho. The people of the city knew he was coming and lined the road into town to welcome him. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, too. He was the chief tax collector, so nearly everyone hated him.… Read the rest
What is the unforgivable sin? It doesn’t take thorough Bible knowledge to come up with the answer “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”
Google “unforgivable sin” and you will find various explanations. They stick close to the original context and don’t compare it with other scriptures. Most of them reassure people that if they fear they have committed it, it’s a good sign they haven’t. If anyone wants God’s forgiveness, it means they have enough regard for the Holy Spirit to desire fellowship with God.
But I have been teaching my Sunday school class about the Lord’s prayer. It contains the petition, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 ESV)—the only petition in the prayer with a built-in condition.… Read the rest
David made some strong claims for himself in 2 Samuel 22:21-25:
21 “The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I have not done evil by turning from my God.
23 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.
24 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.
25 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight. (NIV)
All of us who have ever read it know our own hearts and question whether we could make such a claim.… Read the rest