In light of the slave’s great debt and inability to pay, his master had ordered him and his wife and children and all that he had to be sold in order that satisfaction might be made for the debt; what was the slave’s response at this settling of accounts? What several indications do we see in Mat 18:26 that the man was truly repentant? What was it that prompted the slave’s repentance, and what does this teach us about our evangelism efforts and what brings people to their senses and moves them toward repentance? See Psa 119:120, Luk 15:14-17, Act 17:30-31. Although the man said he would repay everything, was it even possible for him to do so? In what way do his words reflect the great deception of men in regard to their sin? Although impossible for him to repay, what do his words reflect about the sincerity of his repentance, and what do they teach us about the heart attitude of those who are truly repentant? Can one be truly repentant who wants only to have his debt forgiven but expresses no desire to make right what is wrong? Cf. Luk 19:7-9, 2Co 7:9-10. Although he was unable to ever repay his past debt, in what way would the slave’s repentant attitude at least have led him to reform his ways from recklessly acquiring even more debt as a liability to his master? How is this like us in regard to the debt of our past sin and repentance?
What was the master’s response to the humbled attitude and repentance of the slave? See Mat 18:27. What is compassion? Note that the Greek word splangchnizomai means literally to be moved in the inward parts, in the splangchnon, which were understood to be the seat of emotions; see Act 1:18 where it is translated as bowels, 2Co 6:12, 7:15, Phil 1:8, 2:1 where it is translated as affection, and Col 3:12, Phm 1:7,12,20 where it is translated as heart. We tend to think of emotions negatively; what does the master’s compassion teach us about God having and being moved by His emotions? See also Gen 6:6, Psa 78:40-41 for God being grieved and pained, Exo 20:5, 34:14 for God’s jealousy, Num 22:22, Deut 4:21, Heb 3:10, Mat 18:34 for God’s anger, Psa 149:4 for his pleasure, Joh 3:16 for His love, Isa 1:14, Mal 1:3, 2:6, Rev 2:6 for His hate, etc…; should we then understand that emotions are inherently bad? As there is a need when we come to the Lord to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and sanctified in both spirit and body, is there any less need to be sanctified in our emotions? See 1Th 5:23 and observe that one’s soul is that inner part of man that includes the emotions. Does being sanctified in our emotions mean that we cease to have or experience emotion, or that we begin to experience them in the same way and for the same reasons God does? What examples do we have of compassion as a defining characteristic of the nature of God? Gen 19:16, 2Ch 30:9, Neh 9:27-31, Psa 25:6, 51:1, 103:4,13, Pro 28:13, Isa 55:7, Luk 15:20. How was that compassion exemplified in Jesus? See Mat 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34, Mar 1:41, Luk 7:13. What then is the importance of being sanctified in our emotions to be filled with that same compassion? See 1Jo 3:17. In Scripture, who seems to be most guilty of lacking compassion: those who are religious or those who are non-religious? Cf. Mat 9:10-13, 12:7, Luk 10:30-33. What special warning does this offer us as Christians? What is the great danger of ignoring the mercies of the Lord and hardening our hearts against the continual outpouring of His compassion? See 2Ch 36:15-17, Isa 13:18, Jer 13:10-14, 16:1-5, 21:7, Rom 2:4-8.
Consider again the indebtedness of the slave and the vast sum that he owed; what portion of the debt did the master forgive? See Mat 18:32. How is this very different from creditors with a human nature like our own? What does it teach us about how even the most heinous and numerous of sins may be pardoned? See 1Ti 1:12-16, Isa 1:18. What does it teach us about the Lord’s great mercy, love and compassion towards even the most wretched of sinners and his willingness to extend forgiveness because He wants all men to be saved (1Ti 2:4) and it is not His will that even a single little one perish (Mat 18:12-14), if only they will express a willingness to turn towards Him? See Luk 15:20, 17:4. What is the connotation when Matthew writes that having compassion on the slave the master released him? See Mat 27:15,17,21, Act 16:35-36, 28:18. In what way is the obligation of a burdensome debt that one is unable to pay like a prison? When it says the master released him so he was free from the obligation of his debt, does that mean that he was free from his duties to his master? Rather than loosening the bonds of service to his master, what result ought the master’s actions have had upon the slave’s obedience and future dealings with others? Cf. Mat 18:33. How is that to be like us? What must be the result to have so great a debt forgiven but treat it so lightly as to be unchanged and continue recklessly acquiring even more debt as if it were a small thing? See Mat 18:34, Rom 2:4-5, Heb 2:1-3a, 10:26-31.
1. The lord of that servant, when he might justly have ruined him, mercifully released him; and, since he could not be satisfied by the payment of the debt, he would be glorified by the pardon of it. Matthew Henry.↩