Monday, November 7, 2011

He Paid a Debt He did not owe

Have you ever heard the song, "He Paid a debt" by Ellis J. Crum?
The first verse goes like this:

He paid a debt He did not owe;
I owed a debt I could not pay;
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And, now, I sing a brand new song,
“Amazing Grace” all day long,
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

Last week in chapel, the speaker was talking about the story Jesus told from Matthew 18. You know, the one about the unforgiving servant. He owed a lot of money, the king forgave the debt, and then he wouldn't forgive the man who owed him so little.  The chapel speaker was talking about it in terms that we would understand. Now, I don't know about you, but the terms "talent", "denarius", and "pence" don't mean much to me in relation to money. I mean, I knew the dude owed  a lot of money, but just exactly how much. 
Forgive all the math i am about to do. Skip past it if you want to. It doesn't really matter. The point will be clear at the end.
So, the average day's wage for a common labourer in Jesus' time was a denari. 
One talent is 6,000 denari. 
The man owes 10,000 talents.
10,000 X 6,000=60,000,000
This man owes 60 million denari, or 60 million days wages.
How many lifetimes would he have to work to pay this off?
As a Jew, he wouldn't work the sabbath, so he is working 6 days a week.

Let's assume he works 50 weeks a year (1 week for passover and one for the feast of tabernacle--or whatever). 
So he is working 300 days a year. So, 60 million days/300 days a year= 200,000 years 
this guy has to work 200,000 years. Let's suppose he works 60 years a lifetime.
200,000/ 60=3,333.33 lifetimes.
I never realized just how huge this debt was. I mean, I always heard a million dollars or something like that. Yes, that is a huge debt, but if you had a good job, saved up your money for  a long time, and had some help from family members, you could probably pay it off. 
Let's put his debt into today's terms. Back home, minimum wage is $10/hour. Let's work 8 hours a day, so therefore, $80 a day. If we are working 60 million days to pay it off, how much do we owe?
60,000,000 X 80 = 4,800,000,000. That's 4.8 billion dollars, in case you got confused by the zeros.
That is impossible to pay off. Not humanly possible unless you are Bill Gates.  I never realized just how huge his debt was.
Every sermon I ever heard preached on this topic quickly glanced at the debt the man couldn't pay, then moved on to the unforgiving part. 

When we look at this story, we generally notice the unforgiving and the unforgiven. What about the forgiver?
What about the king?

He's suddenly out 4.8 billion dollars.
There was no possible way this man could pay it. Not unless he had over 3,000 lifetimes to give in service. And that's assuming he can live rent free and not buy groceries. The king, without giving another thought, forgave and forgot the debt. He didn't hold it over this man. 
As you know, the King is God. And we owed a lot more than 4.8 billion dollars. We have nothing with which we could pay this debt. So Jesus Christ steps in and says,
"Hey! I love that person. I will give my life for them so they can live eternally, debt free." It's all His amazing love. Nothing that we could do could even begin to pay this debt. 
How great is God? I mean, seriously? He did this. He knew we couldn't, and He wants a relationship with us, so He steps in and takes care of our debt! Praise the Lord!!


  1. I am attempting to learn what artist might have recorded this song professionally. (Trying to get it for a friend.) Thanks and God bless, Roberta Potts

  2. I can only find one version of it on iTunes. It's by the Alton Howard Singers, and the album is called "Devotional Songs for Praise and Worship". I don't know if it's what you are looking for, but I hope that helps. There are also several versions/covers on Youtube. . . let me know if I can help you more! :)