When asked by Peter how many times he should forgive someone who wrongs him, Jesus tells a parable about a servant who, after having been forgiven a debt worth billions of dollars, cruelly throws a colleague in jail over a debt of a few thousand (Matt 18:21-35). The reader’s reaction to this story is one of shock, disbelief — it’s simply unimaginable that the servant could be so hard-hearted; surely, we are bound to think, a man in his position would be like George Bailey, kissing everyone in sight.
That intuition is right, but that’s the power of the parable, not a flaw in its telling: because the sad truth is that we all are that unforgiving servant. We owed an unpayable debt, which was freely paid by God the Son, and instead of kissing the earth in gratitude, we keep a niggling record of the wrongs done to us, and demand their full satisfaction. The man in the parable is insane, because we’re insane.