The Two Debtors

Scripture:  Luke 7:40-50

40 And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?" 41 "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet  my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." 48 And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" 50 And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Meditation: Jesus, in his customary fashion, never lost the opportunity to draw a lesson from an incident.  When a noted rabbi invited Jesus to dinner, a public sinner crased the party and washed Jesus' feet with her tears (see Luke 7:36-39). Her action upset the host who complained to Jesus. Why did Jesus put the parable of the two debtors before his "learned host", a rabbi and teacher of the people?  This parable is similar to the parable of the unforgiving official (see Matthew 18:23-35) in which the man who was forgiven much showed himself merciless and unforgiving. This man was completely callous because he could neither believe in love,accept it or give it. Who is to be pitied most? Those who cannot receive love or those who cannot give love? Jesus makes clear that great love springs from a heart forgiven and cleansed.  "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8), "for love is of God" (1 John 4:7). The woman's lavish expression of love was proof that she had found favor with God.  The stark contrast of attitudes between Simon and the woman of ill-repute, demonstrate how we can either accept or reject God's mercy.  Simon, who regarded himself as an upright Pharisee, felt no need for love or mercy. His self-sufficiency kept him for acknowledging his need for God's grace.  Are you grateful for God's mercy and grace?

"Lord, your grace is sufficient for me.  Fill my heart with love and gratitude for the mercy you have shown to me and give me freedom and joy to love and serve others as you have taught."

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(c) 1999 Don Schwager