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                        "THE PARABLES OF JESUS"

                      The Two Debtors (Lk 7:41-43)

INTRODUCTION

1. Do you appreciate what Jesus has done for you?  Does your service
   and devotion to Jesus demonstrate the true extent of your
   appreciation?
   a. If you are slack in your service, what does that indicate?
   b. If you wish you could be more diligent in your service, what
      would help to motivate you?

2. Answers to these questions are found in a parable and its setting
   that Jesus told on an occasion where He was invited to eat at the
   house of a Pharisee - Lk 7:36-50 

[As we continue our series on "The Parables Of Jesus", let's examine
the setting and parable itself that has become to be known as the
parable of "The Two Debtors"...]

I. THE PARABLE AND ITS SETTING

   A. THE SETTING...
      1. Jesus accepts an invitation to eat at a Pharisee's house
         - Lk 7:36 
      2. A woman "who was a sinner" (perhaps a prostitute) comes in...
         a. She brings an alabaster flask of fragrant oil - Lk 7:37 
         b. She first stands behind Jesus, weeping - Lk 7:38a
         c. She then washes His feet with her tears, and wipes them
            with her hair - Lk 7:38b
         d. Finally, she kisses His feet and anoints them with the
            fragrant oil - Lk 7:38c
      3. The host wonders whether Jesus could truly be a prophet, for
         if so He would know what kind of woman she was - Lk 7:39 
      4. Knowing what is in the Pharisee's heart, Jesus offers to say
         something - Lk 7:40 

   B. THE PARABLE ITSELF...
      1. A creditor had two debtors - Lk 7:41 
         a. One owed five hundred denarii
         b. The other owed fifty denarii (a denarius was equivalent to
            a day's wage)
      2. The debtors could not repay, yet the creditor forgave them
         both - Lk 7:42a

   C. JESUS FOLLOWS UP WITH A QUESTION AND APPLICATION...
      1. He challenges Simon (the Pharisee) with a question - Lk 7:42b-43
         a. "Which of them (the debtors) will love him (the creditor)
             more?"
         b. Simon's response:  "I suppose the one whom he forgave more"
            1) Does "I suppose" suggest a reluctance to respond on
               Simon's part?
            2) Could it be he has already begun to see the point of the
               parable?
         c. Jesus replies that Simon has properly judged the correct
            answer
      2. Jesus then makes the contrast between Simon and the woman - Lk 7:44-46 
         a. Simon gave Him no water for His feet, but she washed them
            with her tears and dried them with her hair
         b. Simon gave Him no kiss, but she has not ceased to kiss His
            feet
         c. Simon did not anoint His head with oil, but she anointed
            His feet with fragrant oil
         -- All of these things Simon should have done as a normal
            host, but he did not do it for the most important guest
            of all!
      3. Jesus drives the point home - Lk 7:47 
         a. The first part of this verse is difficult:  "...her sins
            which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much."
            1) Is Jesus saying that her love is the "cause" of her
               forgiveness, or the "proof"?
               a) Is she forgiven because she loved much? (that's what
                  it sounds like)
               b) Or is her much love the evidence of the forgiveness
                  of her many sins?
            2) Jesus does say that her "faith" saved her - Lk 7:50 
               a) That is, her faith was the cause for her being
                  forgiven
               b) And her love may have been a reflection of her faith
                  (cf. "faith working through love" - Ga 5:6)
         b. But the latter part of the verse, and the implication of
            the parable itself suggests that her love is the result or
            proof of her forgiveness
            1) "But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little"
               a) Just as one who receives little forgiveness, loves
                  little...
               b) ...so one who receives much forgiveness, loves much!
            2) "Her love was the result, and not the cause, of her
               forgiveness. Our sins are not forgiven because we love
               God, but we love God because they are forgiven (1 Jn 4:19).
               Such is the inference of the parable, and such the
               teaching of the entire NewTestament."
               (McGarvey's Fourfold Gospel)
            3) "For she loved much (hoti gapsen polu). Illustration
               or proof, not reason for the forgiveness. Her sins had
               been already forgiven and remained forgiven. But to whom
               little is forgiven, the same loveth little (Hi de
               oligon aphietai oligon agapi).  This explanation proves
               that the meaning of hoti preceding is proof, not cause."
               (Robertson's Word Pictures)
      3. If the woman's love is simply the evidence her forgiveness, as
         the parable suggests, then Jesus' next words were designed to
         further reassure her - Lk 7:48-50 
         a. "Your sins are forgiven."
         b. "Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace"
         -- Both statements simply confirm that her great display of
            love was properly placed, for she had indeed been saved by
            her faith

[While Jesus' words in Lk 7:47 are indeed challenging, the parable
and its setting teaches a simple truth:

      Those who have been forgiven of much are more likely to
      appreciate their salvation than those forgiven of little!

Let's expound upon this point as we seek to apply the parable to
ourselves...]

II. APPLYING THE PARABLE

   A. THIS PARABLE CAN PROVIDE GREAT COMFORT TO SINNERS...
      1. Many people who come to Jesus have really made a mess of their
         lives
      2. They know it, and the sense of their guilt is acute
         a. But this parable reminds us the Lord is willing to forgive
            no matter the debt!
         b. And the woman reminds us that as one's sense of guilt is
            acute, so their love will be greater!
         c. With a greater love, there will be the motivation for
            greater service!
      3. Just as with the apostle Paul, who did not consider himself
         worthy to be called an apostle - cf. 1 Co 15:9-10 
      -- So rather than wallow in your guilt of the past, allow the
         great forgiveness Jesus offers to motivate you to love and
         serve Him even more!

   B. THIS PARABLE REVEALS HOW WE CAN INCREASE OUR LOVE AND DEVOTION TO
      JESUS...
      1. Remember, the more cognizant we are of the forgiveness we have
         in Christ, the more we will love and serve Him
      2. There are at least two ways one can have an heightened sense
         of forgiveness
         a. One way is to have been forgiven of much, as in the case of
            this woman
         b. But another way is learn more about the nature of sin...
            1) I.e., how just one sin makes us guilty of all - Ja 2:10 
            2) I.e., how the wages of sin is spiritual death,
               separation from God - Ro 6:23; Isa 59:1-2 
      3. We cannot change the degree of our sinfulness prior to coming
         to Christ...
         a. But we can always increase the level of our understanding
            about sin!
         b. I.e., the more we learn about the terrible nature of sin...
            1) The more we appreciate the forgiveness we have in
               Christ!
            2) The more motivated we are by love to serve Him - 2 Cor 5:14-15

CONCLUSION

1. What is our devotion and service to Jesus like?
   a. Do we treat Him like Simon did?
   b. I.e., we invite Him into our lives, but really don't give Him the
      honor He deserves?

2. Could it be that we are more like the Pharisee than we care to
   admit?
   a. Failing to give Jesus the proper devotion due Him?
   b. Looking down in self-righteousness at people who we think are not
      worthy of Him?

3. If you find yourself with an attitude like Simon's, instead of one
   like the woman's...
   a. Remember that those forgiven most are capable of loving Jesus
      more!
   b. And that perhaps you need to reflect more on your true spiritual
      condition!

For it was to the sinful woman, and not to self-righteous Simon, that
Jesus said:
                       "Your sins are forgiven."
               "Your faith has saved you.  Go in peace."
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