Absorbing a Greater Debt

For three weeks I struggle to forgive. Though I know I must, I don’t want to forgive; I’m hurt and I’m angry and it’s no small offense. My relationship to the offender makes it a 100 denarii offense, hurting my feelings. The news given is a very real 100 denarii debt, making me angry.

As the first month of the new year unfolds, I begin to work on our budget for the months ahead. How am I going to cover this debt? This 100 denarii debt?

Forgiving is hard when the debt is so great. And I’m glad Jesus knows.

In the parable Jesus tells of the unforgiving slave, the slave owes his master a debt of 10,000 talents. A talent was the largest form of currency and represented about 6,000 days’ worth of wages. And 10,000 is the largest numerical term in Greek, so it literally means 10,000, but it is also used figuratively to express an uncountable number. Sort of like us saying gazillion. It was a sum so large, it could never be repaid. And the time had come for the master to settle accounts.

At this, the slave fell facedown before him and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you everything!’ Then the master of that slave had compassion, released him, and forgave him the loan. ~ Matthew 18:26-27

As the story comes to life in my mind, I am struck by the thought that when the master forgave the debt, the loss of the money didn’t suddenly vanish. The money still had to be accounted for.

The debt had to be absorbed.

I think again of my own budget and remember seeing the full loss of the 100 denarii debt in real numbers. How I plucked the keys and reduced spending in one category after another until the full weight of the debt was accounted for. Giving, saving, spending – all reduced until the full debt was absorbed.

The process was painful. The smaller the numbers dipped the greater my frustration grew. What the budget was forced to do, my heart is unwilling to do.

But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him 100 denarii. He grabbed him, started choking him, and said, ‘Pay what you owe!’ “At this, his fellow slave fell down and began begging him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he wasn’t willing. On the contrary, he went and threw him into prison until he could pay what was owed.  ~ Matthew 18:28-30

And I am the unforgiving servant.

Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ ~ Matthew 18:32-33

Yes. Yes, Lord. I should have mercy. I want to have mercy. Help me to forgive.

And I see 10,000 talents of sins. And I am the servant who owes an unpayable debt.

A debt that Jesus absorbed.

As He absorbed the pain of a friend’s betrayal, Jesus absorbed my debt.
As He absorbed the sting of the soldiers’ insults, Jesus absorbed my debt.
As His back absorbed the searing pain of the scourge, Jesus absorbed my debt.
As His forehead absorbed the crown of thorns, Jesus absorbed my debt.
As His hand and feet absorbed the thrust of metal going through them, Jesus absorbed my debt.
As He absorbed the excruciating pain of the cross, Jesus absorbed my debt.

I turn to my budget one last time and through tears I give thanks. For as each new month arrives, the debt will continue to be absorbed. And each month I will remember the debt that I cannot pay.

Yes, Lord. Yes, I’ll forgive. Both in my budget and in my heart, I’ll absorb the debt.

Because Jesus willingly absorbed the greater debt.

In hope,

About Shelli Bourque

An ordinary girl living by the grace of life in Christ. Adoring wife and mom. Lover of quiet places and uncluttered spaces. Beauty seeker and image maker.


  1. Karen says

    Thanks Shelli for the reminder. I needed that today.