When you open your credit card bill do you ever get a shock? You gape in disbelief and think, “I owe how much? Oh yeah, I forgot about that smart watch; why did I buy that thing?”
What if you got a bill from God: how much would you owe? No doubt you would be in for a much bigger shock. There would be uncountable line items on that bill, ones you had long since forgotten. I got thinking about such a bill when I read this:
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.” (Matthew 18:23-24)
We miss the point of this unless we know that ten thousand talents is a bill of roughly $6 billion! And the guy who owes that much is a servant to a king. Consider the vast difference in authority and status between the two. Heap on the $6 billion debt, and then zero in on these words: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to…” There’s your bill.
You can see how inadequate religious attempts to pay the bill are. Some require bringing a sacrifice. Others assign various acts of penance after you confess a short list of sins. It is literally hopeless to attempt to square accounts with God by such piddly measures, especially since the bill grows greater each day.
Although it is hard for us to fully understand, only God could settle up for us, by forgiving the debt, as the king in that parable did. When you forgive a debt, that means you accept the cost. God’s method to zero out our accounts was foretold by Isaiah and fulfilled by Jesus.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)