Last week we looked at the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It's one of the most famous parables that Jesus told, but it's not the only one that Christians believe tells them more about God. Jesus told this story, like the Parable of the Good Samaritan, as an answer to a question. His follower, Peter, asked him "Lord, when my brother sins against me, how many times must I forgive him?"
Things to understand - Peter here is using 'brother' like Jesus used 'neighbour' in the Good Samaritan, he doesn't mean literally just your brother. 'Sins against me' means does something wrong against you, like steals from you or tells lies about you.
Here's what Jesus said back, according to the Bible in the Book of Matthew; have a watch of this dramatisation of the story Jesus told:
Here's how the story is written in the International Children's Bible:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when my brother sins against me, how many times must I forgive him? Should I forgive him as many as 7 times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive him more than 7 times. You must forgive him even if he does wrong to you 70 times 7.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who decided to collect the money his servants owed him. So the king began to collect his money. One servant owed him several million dollars. But the servant did not have enough money to pay his master, the king. So the master ordered that everything the servant owned should be sold, even the servant’s wife and children. The money would be used to pay the king what the servant owed.
“But the servant fell on his knees and begged, ‘Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.’ The master felt sorry for his servant. So the master told the servant he did not have to pay. He let the servant go free.
“Later, that same servant found another servant who owed him a few dollars. The servant grabbed the other servant around the neck and said, ‘Pay me the money you owe me!’
“The other servant fell on his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me. I will pay you everything I owe.’
“But the first servant refused to be patient. He threw the other servant into prison until he could pay everything he owed. All the other servants saw what happened. They were very sorry. So they went and told their master all that had happened.
“Then the master called his servant in and said, ‘You evil servant! You begged me to forget what you owed. So I told you that you did not have to pay anything. I had mercy on you. You should have had the same mercy on that other servant.’ The master was very angry, and he put the servant in prison to be punished. The servant had to stay in prison until he could pay everything he owed.
“This king did what my heavenly Father will do to you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
This is an important parable for Christians as Jesus at the end of the story tells his followers that the King in the story is like his heavenly Father - God. There are three main characters in the story - the king, the unforgiving servant and the servant who owes the unforgiving servant.
Two things for us to do. First, what does this story teach Christians about what God is like? How do you know?
The second - we've been looking at folk tales which teach a moral, and that's what this parable does as well. This story is thousands of years old - do you think you could write a modern version that teaches the same lesson?