The Two Debtors

Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his home for a meal. As He sat at the table, a woman, simply identified as a sinner came in. Some have tried to identify her as Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2), but the text does not infer this. Her name is not as important as what she did. Simon withheld some basic courtesies from the Lord—he did not wash His feet, give Him a kiss, nor anoint His head. However, the woman whom Simon called a sinner (Luke 7:39) did all of these for the Lord (Luke 7:44-46).

Having seen such a contrast between his host and this impromptu visitor, the Lord spoke a parable to Simon. He said:

There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One
owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when
they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave
them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him
more? (Luke 7:41-42)

Both debtors would have gratitude for the goodness of their creditor, but Simon answered the Lord rightly, the one who was forgiven the more would love him more. What he may not have expected was the application Jesus made of this parable.

The Pharisees were the epitome of pride and self-righteousness. Even in our text we see this. Simon judged himself better than the woman, a sinner, and the Lord, obviously not a prophet, since He allowed such a woman to touch Him. He was just like his fellows, who congratulated themselves on how great they were and perpetually extolled their own virtues.

Simon and the woman are both in the parable, they were both debtors before the Lord, whether it was acknowledged or not. The apostle Paul wrote,

…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
(Romans 3:23)

It may have been that the woman had a larger debt of sin than Simon. The Lord did say he sins were “many.” We don’t know how many sins Simon had, but we do know that he did not display the love that the woman did for the Lord. In response to her love, the Lord said,

…her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.
But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. (Luke 7:47)

Notice he does not say that Simon is forgiven. He hadn’t shown any love to the Lord at all. He showed contempt for the Son of God, casting doubt on who He was. The one who lives much is forgiven much; the one who loves little is forgiven little; and in Simon’s case, it may be that the one who did not love at all is not forgiven at all.

The other guests who sat at the table heard the parable and Jesus’ use of it, and wondered among themselves,

Who is this who even forgives sins? (Luke 7:49)

You may recall, in Mark 2:7 the Pharisees called Jesus a blasphemer (not verbally, but in their thoughts), because He claimed to be able to forgive sins. It does not seem that Simon’s other guests were of as harsh an opinion of Jesus as those who saw the paralytic raised, but His words certainly began a buzz among them.

Friend, what is your disposition toward the Lord? Do you love Him? How much do you love the Lord? How do you show your love for Him.? No matter how many or how grievous your sins are, they can and will be forgiven, if you exalt the Lord as King of your life. That is exactly what this sinful woman did.

She did not have a bucket of water from which she could wash His feet, and so she emptied her heart out before Him, pouring her tears upon His feet. She did not have a towel to dry His feet, so she used her hair. Such an act was consistent with a servant before her master. She adored Him, as seen by her perpetual kissing of His feet. And then she declared Him not only to be master, but also her King. The anointing of the feet was exclusive to royalty. She claimed Him, the King of kings and Lord of lords to be her’s. Will you make the same claim to Him?

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