Matthew 18:23-35 (MSG Version)
“The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
“The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
“The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’
“The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
“The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
You may recognize the verses above, at least in part, but do you see how they tie together? The passage from Luke is the well-known announcement made by the angels to shepherds of the birth of Jesus Christ. The passage from John is part of a conversation that Jesus had with His disciples telling them that He would soon be leaving them, but that He would send to them the Holy Spirit as a “friend” for them.
They are both announcements of some kind, introductions to a new personality. Luke introduces the infant Jesus, the “Savior who is Christ the Lord”. John introduces the Holy Spirit, the “Friend”, the “Comforter” (as put in some translations) to Christ’s followers. But beyond the personalities they introduce, they are announcements of a relationship. A relationship between God and human beings. As used in the Gospels, the words Peace and Joy indicate the connection that is made between individuals even if they are separated physically by distance. It is this same connection that God extends to us, the followers of Christ. This is a radically new relationship between human beings and God.
What relationship do you turn to when you want to find Peace and Joy?
What is there in that relationship that allows you to feel Peace and Joy?
Do you find those things in your relationship with God?
Both the shepherds and the disciples would have understood that they are being invited into a new relationship with God, and with each other. To Jesus, there was no differentiation between our relationship with God from our relationship with others. In every practical aspect, He saw them both as the same thing, the one relies on the other for its source of connection. This is NOT an easy thing, we never find in Jesus an EASY path of discipleship. However, here in John, Jesus offers his life and His ministry as an example how to make this relationship real, he asks us to carry that ministry on in our lives and relationships; not only that, He offers us His Spirit as a friend to help and guide us down the Road.
Please pray this prayer with me:
Holy Spirit we invite you to Come, in peace and joy, and fill this room with the presence of Christ. Help us to see our connection with each other, with those that are here in this place, and those who cannot join us today and are separated by distance. Through those connections, help us realize our relationship with You. Make our relationship with God more real through our relationships with each other. Amen.