The unmerciful debtor
“Then came Peter and said to him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven’ “ (RSV, Matthew 18: 21,22)
The Parable of the Unmerciful Debtor takes us behind the scenes of the court of an Eastern King. Over each of the provinces into which the Kingdom was divided there had been appointed a high official. His chief duty was to see that the King’s subjects duly paid their taxes and that the money so collected passed into the royal treasury. Such a position, involving each year a vast sum of money, furnished a dishonest governor with an opportunity for embezzlement on a grand scale.
One day the King decided to go into the provincial accounts, and discovered there a discrepancy too enormous to be concealed. The governor in question, who had evidently carried on in a wild and reckless fashion, was found to be the equivalent of some two million pounds short, a debt so colossal as to be utterly beyond his ability to pay. The King, who had his own way of dealing with such cases, ordered the man, his family and his property to be sold and the resulting proceeds to be paid into the Royal Treasury.