Sunday, May 08, 2011

Understanding Biblical parables: The Unforgiving Servant

Understanding Biblical parables: In which kuri gives you the benefit of his vast half-vast Biblical knowledge by explaining the parables of Jesus for the modern reader.

This week we'll cover the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (also known as the Parable of the Ungrateful Servant, Unmerciful Servant, or Wicked Servant).

The parable

Jesus sez:

Poster from the 1992 movie version
"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

"When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed." (Matthew 18:23 - 34, NIV)

The meaning of the parable

This parable is a straightforward morality tale. Through it, Jesus teaches us the profound truth that two wrongs make a right. The king had canceled the servant's debt, but when he got angry, the king not only went back on his word, he had the servant tortured. Thus we learn that lying to people and hurting them is OK if they've done something we don't like.

Follow me on Twitter
Friend me on Facebook
Ask me a question on formspring


  1. No! The real lesson is that it's okay for the Lord to forgive and then de-forgive someone, but we have to forgive everyone.

    Just another way in which we're expected to keep to a standard that God doesn't personally feel the need to adhere to. See also: murder, abortion, genocide.

  2. You have to read between the lines. The King (aka God) is a drug dealer. The two servants are smaller drug dealers who are both employed by the King. At the root of the violence is some premium quality cocaine. I'll let you develop the details for the rest of the story.

    The moral: If you steal God's sh** he'll kick your ass and sell your wife and kids to the highest bidder.


What do you think?