“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Mt. 18:33)
I am writing this three days after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, and as bad as the initial news was, things only seem to have grown more terrible in the time since. Two more people have died, and two players were mixed up, which makes it obvious that the injuries to the survivors were much worse than I thought. Many lives are going to be changed forever.
I feel for the driver of the truck who collided with the bus. I can’t imagine the guilt he must feel. How can there be forgiveness for his part in this tragedy?
There cannot be forgiveness if one looks at life like the unmerciful servant in one of Jesus’ stories (see Matthew 18:21-35). In this servant’s eyes, forgiveness is earned. So, when his master, the king, demands payment for his debt of ten thousand bags of gold, the servant begs for patience and promises to pay everything back to the king.
The king has pity on the servant and cancels the debt. But the servant remains unchanged. Perhaps he thought that his promise to repay was what moved the king to forgive him, so in a way he had still earned and deserved his forgiveness. He did not realize what a great gift he had been given, so the king’s great gift had no impact.
This forgiven servant then turns around and throws in jail a fellow servant who begged for forgiveness over a much, much smaller amount. When his fellow servants report his despicable actions to the king, the king reconsiders his decision and orders that the unmerciful servant be thrown in jail and tortured until he pays back all that he owes, which is an impossible task. The unmerciful servant has chosen the path of unforgiveness for himself.
God’s first response to us is always one of grace and love. He is always willing to forgive our sins, cancel our great debts and not let our past failures and faults come between us and Him. However, like the king in Jesus’ story, God will let us choose the path of unforgiveness for ourselves.
Will God’s forgiveness have any impact on our lives? That depends on whether we realize how much we have been forgiven. Only when we remember that we have been forgiven much do we have generous forgiveness in our hearts for others. So far, I have not driven a truck that collided with a hockey team bus and resulted in many deaths, but God has forgiven me for many, many serious sins.
Therefore, we remember our sins, which are forgiven, to help us be generous in forgiving others.
Dear Jesus, please help me to remember always how You have generously forgiven me so I can, with Your help, generously forgive others. Please continue to be with all who are grieving the loss of loved ones because of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Amen.