In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Debt. We love it and we hate it. It is occasionally necessary because of the twists and turns of life, but it has become our constant companion. For we have been ensnared by its seductive embrace, and fallen in love with its easy ways. And thus, we all know how unforgiving debt lenders are. They may give you occasional interest or payment relief not wanting you to default on what you owe them, but they will not forgive your debt.
No. He is merciful. That is his nature. That is Our Lord’s point in this parable: His heavenly Father is like this merciful master who was moved in his guts by the plea for mercy of this woefully inadequate servant.
God is mercy therefore He is merciful and freely forgives the debts owed Him. He acts according to His nature. We, having been mercied by Him, and as His people are required to do mercy, and walk with Him in His ways. (Micah 6:8)
This is why our Lord`s graciousness is so miraculous, so unfathomable. We sinners by birth have had our very nature forgiven, and where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation. Thus, not only has our nature been forgiven and the debt it owes paid, but that debt paying has killed your sinful nature and replaced it with Christ in you. You now desire to be like God: merciful, compassionate, walking humbly with your God in faith. Nonetheless, as long as your sinful flesh lives here below your old nature clings to you coming back when you least expect it. Raising in you the constant expectation of debt repayment. “Those people—be they your kids, your fellow church members, those folks who never come here, or give money, or do any of the work, yet call this their church—they haven’t paid their debts. They haven’t given their due. They owe me. They owe the church.” Or maybe your mercilessness is more theologically nuanced and so you say, “They owe God a debt of gratitude for all His mercy.” And you are probably right in your judgement of them. But your judgement also applies to you. For who is being ungracious? We claim we are standing up for the honour of those who have been defrauded, or not been properly paid or remunerated, but what we are being is stingy. Merciless. The opposite of what God requires. When we ourselves have been forgiven an impossible debt and yet we hang on to the petty debts others owe us by rights God threatens to hand you over to the torturer to pay the debt you owe Him.
You are now His own. You belong to Him. To live in His kingdom in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness for He has taken over you debts and all your affairs. Which means he has charge of you. He oversees you. Kills your old slave nature and puts His life in you, which fights against your old dead, sinful, merciless desires. He drowns them at the font. Absolves them with His Word. Strengthens the true you against them with His blood. For you belong to Him who purchased you from your own inborn nature with His own flesh. Out of the love He has for you which comes not just from the heart but the very essence of God Himself.
Which means the cross, the spear wound into His guts, from which flowed blood and water are His very essence. The core of the Triune God: which is mercy for you and all mankind richly flowing from His water and blood. The great price which has paid your unpayable debt.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON