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Forgive us our trespasses

To think about the importance of forgiving people who have done wrong by us, for their sake as well as our own.

by Jenny Tuxford

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To think about the importance of forgiving people who have done wrong by us, for their sake as well as our own.

Preparation and materials

  • In class, read the story of the unjust servant in Matthew 18.21–35.
  • Discuss with the children any times when they have done something wrong. Did they apologize? Did they mean it? Did they feel that they were forgiven?
  • Have they needed to forgive someone? Did they truly forgive and forget? How did they feel afterwards?
  • The first poem may be acted out while other children say the lines. Alternatively you may prefer a series of tableaux.
  • Characters: Narrator, King, Accountant, Obadiah (the unforgiving servant), Matthew (another servant), and two Guards.
  • Display/project the words of the Lord’s Prayer for the children to say together at the end.


Jesus told a parable about an unforgiving servant. We would like to act it for you.

The unforgiving servant

Scene 1: The King’s palace

King (to Obadiah)
You are a servant and I am your King,
Pay what you owe – and I mean everything.

Watch my lips, hear what I say,
The time has come for you to pay.
Ten thousand talents is quite a sum,
So cough up now – you’ve had your fun.
There’s interest too, if you want to live,
Now empty your pockets, it’s your turn to give.

Give me some time and I’ll pay up, you’ll see,
I beg you, O King, have mercy on me!

You owe us plenty and we need the dough,
So pay up or off to prison you’ll go.
You have a family, or so I’ve heard tell,
We’ll sell your wife and your children as well.

This matter is serious, my King, I agree,
But I beg you again – have mercy on me! (goes down on knees)

Can I forgive you? I find that I can,
I think you will find I’m a generous man.
And you are a fortunate man, you know,
I’ll forget your debt – you’re free to go.

Give thanks! Alleluia! Amen and praise be!
I’ll not be forgetting your kindness to me!

Scene 2: A prison cell

But the very same minute this madman is free
He comes shouting and screaming and looking for me!
He grabs me and chokes me, going berserk.
I yell, ‘Leave me alone to get on with my work!’

But he’s red in the face and he’s covered in sweat,
He shouts, ‘Pay what you owe me and settle your debt.
You owe me some pennies,’ he says, prodding and poking.
‘A few pence?’ I laugh. ‘You have got to be joking!’

‘I owe you so little I’m sure it can wait!’
But he clutches my throat, his eyes filled with hate.
I cry out for pity, ‘Have mercy on me!’
But he laughs in my face. ‘You’ll suffer,’ says he.

So here I am telling you good folk my tale,
From the inside of this cold and comfortless jail.

Scene 3: The King’s palace


King, you know the servant you pardoned today?
Just wait ’til you hear what I have to say! (whispers in the King’s ear)


No! He didn’t! The miserable rat!
You don’t mean? He did? Well, I’m not having that!
Bring him here to me at once!

(Guards march out and fetch Obadiah and Matthew, who stand before the King.)


Oh, you unworthy servant, what did you do?
You should have forgiven him as I forgave you.
(Turns to the Guards) Take this merciless man and lock him away.
Beat him up soundly and force him to pay.

(Guards lead Obadiah away. He is pleading and begging for mercy.)

Time for reflection

Jesus is saying that just as God forgives us time after time, so we should forgive other people every time they hurt us. Spend a few moments thinking about how hard that is. Who do you find it hardest to forgive?

Listen to the words of the prayer we’re going to say together. They include forgiving those who hurt us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever.


‘A new commandment’ (Hymns Old and New, 4)

Publication date: March 2010   (Vol.12 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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