The parables of Jesus summon us to the edge of the world in order to imagine a world that can only be called “kingdom.”
Parables are more than illustrations and more than stories making a point. Instead, they invite us into a storied world that has the power to transform the one who enters the storied world.
Jesus invites us to imagine a world where forgiveness shapes relationships. (Read the parable after the jump.)
Forgiveness, C.S. Lewis once observed, is a lovely idea until you have something to forgive. So true.
But a world shaped by forgiveness is a shalom and love world. So, kingdom world. So Jesus.
The debt in this parable is incredible, so the storied world invites us to imagine a staggering story. The “king” is not a simple analogy of God. Instead, we are to enter the story to hear the whole story, to see the whole story, and to let the wholeness impact us. God stunningly forgives us of staggering debt, and God disapproves of those who fail to live out graciousness and forgiveness toward others.
As Klyne Snodgrass puts it: “The kingdom comes with limitless grace in the midst of an evil world, but with it comes limitless demand” (72). [Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus]
Thus forgiveness not shown is forgiveness not known (also from Klyne).
We are called to forgive because we are called to shalom and love, and you can’t have complete shalom until you have reconciliation. Forgiveness is incredibly difficult at times, but it is always the goal of all those who follow Jesus into his imagined world of kingdom.