When I invited Julia to eat lunch with me that day, she had initially ordered the cheapest thing on the menu.
(You might remember, Julia was a girl in her late teens who had grown up in a girls' orphanage but was now out on her own with her baby. In her recent experience, she struggled to have just the few cents needed to buy enough rice for a meal. I am sure she constantly worried if she would have enough for survival.)
The cheapest thing on the menu was far more expensive than plain rice and beyond her budget.
I, on the other hand, had seen the menu. The most expensive item was about $6, and I had three twenty-dollar bills in my pocket and, if that was not enough, I had a couple of credit cards. In other words, I felt confident in telling her she could order anything she wanted. I had it covered. I was good for it.
There are some who would look at Julia’s life as an unmarried mother, judge her and her actions, and call her a sinner. Perhaps they might even say she deserved to starve. With their limited understanding, they might say she was morally bankrupt, a bad girl, and stained for life. They are wrong.
The sad thing is Julia would probably agree with them.
In Matthew 18, Jesus tells his disciples of the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety and nine sheep to go and find the one astray and who rejoices when he finds it.
Peter, trying to understand, asked to know just how far this forgiveness would extend. The Savior told this story.
A man owed his king 10,000 talents of silver and was called on to repay. The debt was just and, according to the law, if the man could not pay, he and his wife and children could be sold into slavery to pay the debt. The man could not repay and begged forgiveness, asking for just a little more time to try to repay this impossible debt. But, just like that, the king forgave him of the debt.
How much is 10,000 silver talents? That is thirty tons of silver. At a laborer's wage in that time, it would take about twenty years to earn one talent of silver. Ten-thousand talents equal about 200,000 years of labor. The king forgave it just for the asking.
Why did Jesus use such a phenomenal sum in this story? I think he wanted to tell Peter, “You may worry and sweat to come up with a few cents to cancel your debt for your day’s rice. But you have a friend who loves you. He can cover your debt of pennies. He has enough to cover anything and everything on the menu, so just ask. Whatever your debt, He’s got you covered.“
So, those who might doubt if Jesus can truly cancel Julia’s debt of sin are judging God according to their own miserly petty judgmental standards. He can cover anything on today’s menu or tomorrow’s or the next day’s for as long as you live and as hard as you can sin. He’s got you covered.
So just ask.
Is it really that simple? Not quite, there is a catch. The parable goes on to say that to merit this unlimited love and generosity you must show love and generosity to others. Julia repeatedly has been willing to share her last bite of food with others. I think she’s covered.
I saw Julia just a few days ago. She is doing well. She has a good job. I don’t know if I would call six twelve-hour shifts a week a good job, but she does. She has gained weight and is probably just over 100 pounds now. We ate in the same restaurant. She ate the first large meal I ordered for her so fast I ordered another. She finished that as well.
I asked her how she would be spending Christmas Day. She beamed and said she had Christmas Day off and was going with her daughter to visit some friends who weren’t doing so well.
This blog post is twelfth out of a series of 12 Christmas stories by founder Rex Head. Read the other stories below.