“A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50 Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one he forgave more.”
Five hundred denarii would of been about 20 months wages for someone and 50 denarii would of been about two months wages. Both debtors owed the creditor something they had no means to pay back. The first debtor owed 10 times as much as the second debtor. The creditor realized that neither of them could repay what they owed him so he forgave both debts, but weight of the debt would’ve weighted more heavily upon the one who owed ten times as much.
We may resonate with the woman today, weeping at the feet of Jesus, so full of thankfulness that our tears are many because we realize we have been forgiven much. But maybe we can more readily resonate with Simon. We know we are forgiven but we are not moved to tears like the woman. We are thankful enough to open up our house to Jesus, but not so moved that we would weep at His feet. Like Simon, we could forget a very important part of this parable—that no matter how big the debt, neither party could repay it, and therefore the result for both is the same. The woman realized that without Jesus she could not be forgiven. Without Jesus, Simon’s fate—as is ours—is the same as that woman’s fate. We would live in eternal separation from our Creator and loving Father if He did not send Jesus to forgive us our debt. No matter the amount, as Jesus reveals in this parable, we have no way of making up the debt. No amount of good works, no amount of good behavior, no amount of comparison or justification would enable our debt to be paid.
Forgiveness that Jesus has purchased for us is not something a human can earn. Both debtors needed grace. Both Simon and the woman needed grace—a grace so amazing that nothing else would be sufficient to repay their debt.
Jesus was not asking for Simon to weep like the woman, although perhaps he should; Jesus was challenging Simon’s judgment of the woman and dishonoring of Jesus. What was alarming was the pride revealed in Simon. Judgment of others melts in the light of true forgiveness. If we realize what we have been forgiven, we won’t dishonor God Himself for the salvation He brings to others. Simon’s response could have been one of great jubilee that a woman who was considered to be living as a prostitute was now at the feet of a God Himself! What a miracle, what amazing grace! But instead, self-righteousness killed the party. Debt is debt. Simon needed to realize that his debt was fully paid, and that debt could not of been repaid by anyone else except Jesus. The woman’s debt might have been then times as much, but Simon’s debt, in the moment of judging another, perhaps went up ten times in interest.
God, we pray today that we would be filled with awe at the wonder of your forgiveness—that every debt, in light of your holiness, is a debt too big to repay. Therefore we come with truly grateful hearts to receive fully our freedom and to also celebrate and rejoice with others in their forgiveness by your grace.
Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. // Romans 2:1
// Pastor Josh Kelsey