“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:23-27).

While scholars differ in the precise amount represented by a talent, the point of the expression is that a staggering sum was owed. A talent was the largest denomination in the currency of the period, signifying that every sin against God is a great sin. He being who He is, and we being who we are, and sin being what it is, every sin is large, although the deed may be, by the world’s yardstick, very small. The essence of sin is rebellion against God and the enthroning of self as His rival: and all rebellion is rebellion, whether blatant opposition or sulkily refusing thoughts. Little rattlesnakes are still rattlesnakes with poison fangs as real as the most monstrous ones.

Do any of us realize the infinite number and the transcendent greatness of our sins against the Father? A recognized legal right is exercised by the master when he orders the man, having sinned, be sold as a slave. Yet we cry out for mercy, for we shall repay every penny. Easy to promise. How long will it take the penniless bankrupt to scrape together millions of dollars? No! It is impossible that we can repay. No future righteousness has the power to affect guilt of past sin. There is only one thing that can remove the writing from the page—only the blood of Jesus. We discover a king who, though in former words seemed so harsh with the law, now sounds incredibly merciful, for He not only cancels the debt but also sets us free!

Adapted from In His Presence