The Unmerciful Servant
“He saw a large crowd and had compassion on them… Then he began to teach them many things.” Mark 6:34
Jesus had been teaching His disciples when Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Peter suggested seven times. Jews considered it standard to show forgiveness three times (see Job 33:29-30), so Peter probably thought he was going above and beyond. Jesus answered Peter’s question by telling a story about an unmerciful servant.
In the parable, a servant owed his master ten thousand talents. A talent was equal to about 20 years of wages. Ten thousand talents represented a debt that could never be repaid. Faced with debtors’ prison, the servant begged for more time to repay the master. Instead, the master released his servant and forgave the great debt.
The same servant went out and confronted a man who owed him a hundred denarii—about 100 days of wages. The man begged for more time, but the servant refused and put the man in prison. When the master heard what happened, he was angry that the servant who had been forgiven a great debt did not show mercy to the man who owed a small debt. So the master put the man in prison until he could pay his debt. Jesus concluded the parable by explaining that God would react in the same way to anyone who does not forgive his brother.
We are like the servant, and God is like the master.
Nothing we do is enough to pay the debt we owe God and take away God’s punishment for our sin. Jesus came and died on the cross to pay for our sin and take the punishment we deserve. When we trust in Jesus, God forgives our sin completely. We can forgive others because God has greatly forgiven us.
As you talk with your kids, emphasize that God shows mercy to us so that we will show mercy to others—not just three times or seven times, but many, many times—not keeping count. We have been forgiven a great debt, so we can forgive others when they sin against us.
- Check this session’s Activity Page and Big Picture Card as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.
KEY PASSAGE: Mark 6:34
BIG PICTURE QUESTION:
- Why did Jesus tell stories? Jesus told stories to teach people about God.
BIBLE STORY: THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT
- Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone.
- Jesus told a story about a servant who did not show mercy.
- Jesus taught about God’s forgiveness.
- We forgive others because God has forgiven us so much.
FAMILY DISCUSSION STARTERS:
- How are we like the unmerciful servant?
- How is the king like God?
- Can you think of a time you needed to forgive someone?
Look for opportunities to remind preschoolers of the Bible story as you discipline their behavior this week. Share the gospel, explaining during times of correction how Jesus paid what we owe God.
NEXT WEEK “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37)