Friday, July 11, 2008

The parable of the two debtors

The parable of the two debtors

Scripture

"...Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said..."

Luke 7:40-43

Observations

* This parable is only found in Luke.
* The context and setting of this parable being told is when Jesus is reclining at the table of Simon the Pharisee, and he was approached by a "sinful woman" who wet his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair and poured perfume on them. Simon was disgusted by this and questioned the legitimacy of Christ as a prophet because he allowed a prostitute to touch Him. The parable is Jesus' response to Simons disgust.
* Jesus has used the reaction and thoughts of someone as an opportunity to teach through illustration. It is interesting to read verse 39 and then 40 because Jesus responds directly to Simons thoughts which demonstrate that He was indeed a prophet.
* In the parable the creditor was within His rights to take the advantage of the law against them. He chose not to.
* The parable is about forgiveness, and the way that us sinners respond to having our sins forgiven.
* As He often does, Jesus uses the illustration of debt to tell about our sinfulness. As with all of Jesus' parables about debt (sin) the person owing is unable to pay back the debt and the debt is cancelled for free.
* In this parable both people had their debts cancelled, but one responded with more love than the other.
* The one with the big debt and the one with the smaller debt both needed the debtor to cancel the debt because they were unable to do it themselves.
* A denarii was about a days wages: the people in the parable owed 50 days wages or 500 days wages. Calculating by average Aussie wages it is $AUD6250 or $AUD62,500. In other words they both owed a crap-load of money.
* The response to forgiveness in the parable and in the context setting is to love the one doing the forgiving.

Discussion
This parable is a very brief illustration for the benefit of at least two people- the pharisee and the woman. The pharisee learned that love is an appropriate response to forgiveness and that the more someone is forgiven the more they love. The prostitute learned of the amazing and limitless love and forgiveness of sin that she was able to recieve from God through Jesus.

There are sooooo many parables that teach us that sin is a debt, and us sinners owe God big time. For the debt of disobedience to God's ways and law, we become liable to the penalty. The parable seems to teach us that some people are deeper in debt to God, through sin, than others are: The parable says it- "...One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty..."

Whether we are a so-called upright citizen (like the pharisee) or a known slut (like the prostitute), if we sin a little or a lot, we still owe a debt we cannot pay. The parable says it "...Neither of them had the money to pay him back..." Money can't pay our debt, nor will doing rad things from here on in.

"...so he canceled the debts of both..." God is willing to forgive us sinners, on His terms, no matter how much we have sinned. If we repent, and believe in Christ, our sin will not be held against us anymore.

The more we realise how much God has forgiven us, the more we will love Him.

Application
Not one of us is debt-free, we all owe God a price we can never pay ourselves. If we try to pay the debt ourselves, we will fail and find ourselves still owing God when we stand before Him on Judgement day. If we have our debts cancelled by Him (through trusting in Jesus Christ for our salvation and repenting) we will not only be debt-free on judgement day but we will be creditted with Christs righteousness.

We all are in debt to God, and if we realise how much God has cancelled that debt we will love Him. Love is obedience from here on in.


Prayer
God I know I unable to pay for the debt that I have accumalated through my sin. Please forgive me my debt, I trust Jesus for my salvation. Help me to always remember how much I have been forgiven and what it cost you to forgive, so that I never lack reverence, obedience, repentance and love.
Amen

1 comment:

Scott said...

Insightful Nick. And the parable is such a great precursor to the ultimate act of forgiveness in His own death for our sins. The thought occured to me that when we minimize our own wretchedness- we minimise our potential ability to love Him.
God - help me to always live in that awe-filled sense of your majesty and my deep awareness of my own weakness- That you may be glorified in my life.