Mar 11

Session 5 Recap: Zaspel, “Forgiving As Forgiven” – Matthew 18:15-35

2012 | by Michael Kelshaw | Category: Clarus 12

Editor’s Note: Michael Kelshaw is the Head Minister at Trinity at the Marketplace in Albuquerque NM. He is a member of the Albuquerque Chapter of The Gospel Coalition.  This post is a summary of Fred G. Zaspel’s message from Saturday evening, March 10, “Forgiving As Forgiven,” from Matthew 18:15-35.


On Saturday evening we had the great privilege of listening to Dr. Fred Zaspel preach on Matthew 18:15-35. He unpacked the passage under the title “Forgiving As Forgiven”. The title brings out the main theme of the passage, which is about forgiveness. Highlighting that at the heart of the gospel is the fact that our sins are forgiven, as those who are in the kingdom of God we are a forgiving people. Dr. Zaspel brought this out of the text in three ways.

First of all, the goal of forgiveness is reconciliation (vv. 15-20).

In other words, forgiveness aims at reconciliation. In (v. 15), Jesus shows that the goal, the objective in all of this, is to gain our brother. In the kingdom of God, forgiveness is the dominant note. God brings sinners into fellowship with Himself through the forgiveness of our sins. As those in Christ, we have fellowship with Him, and by His grace are able to forgive others.

The wonderful reminder here is that while we are rightly ready to go through all of the stages outlined in these verses, the reason that we attend to these steps is for reconciliation. We are to tell him his sin, in order to gain our brother.

Secondly, the cost of forgiveness is the payment of the debt (vv. 23-27). 

In these verses the king had to absorb the debt, he had to pay the debt himself. In (v. 27), in order to forgive the servant, the master had to pay the debt himself. In forgiveness the debt is paid by another, forgiveness demands substitutional payment of the debt. Here is the meaning of the cross of Christ, that Jesus stood in the place of sinners, absorbed the debt of others, and paid the debt in full. We stand before God with an incalculable debt that we cannot pay ourselves, and Jesus in our place has paid the debt in full. In order to forgive our brother, we have to absorb the debt, and make payment for it ourselves, and so Jesus is holding up His cross to govern the relationships in His kingdom.

The helpful reminder here is that as those who have been forgiven an immeasurable debt by Jesus in our place fully and freely, we are able to forgive others in that same way. No matter what it costs, it is nothing compared to the forgiveness that has been given us.

Thirdly, the demand of forgiveness is yet more forgiveness (vv. 21-23; 28-35).

Again, the gospel is the model. In order to be saved there is full pardon of our sins, and so as those in Christ, there must be no end to the forgiveness that we are willing to grant to our brother. In (v. 21) Peter asks, in essence, how much is enough. Jesus answers the question by driving home the fact that there are to be no limits on how much you forgive your brother, as He shows in (v. 22).

The important reminder here is that the mercy that we have received is the mercy that we will show to our brother. We delight in this mercy, and as those who have been forgiven an immeasurable debt, we can forgive others. So the people in the kingdom of God are a forgiving people.

Let us recall frequently that we are a people who have been forgiven an immeasurable debt, and in the grace of God are able to forgive others. Let us remember that this is part of living the cross-shaped Christian life.