The Parables of Jesus
“Our Debt is paid in full.”
Have you ever been in debt? Of course, you have!
If you have a credit card and have a balance, you’re in debt. You’re in debt if you own a home and have a mortgage. If you have a monthly loan payment, then you’re in debt.
At one time or another, we’ve all been or experienced debt.
About ten years ago, my debt was high enough that my wife and I were getting ready to declare bankruptcy. We had gotten to the point where we couldn’t keep up with the bills, and our credit card debt was through the roof.
The day before I contacted a lawyer about what steps I needed to take to declare bankruptcy, a church friend came to see me. He had heard about my debt problem and told me that a group of people wanted to help. He asked me to get all my bills together and give them to a particular person, and they would be taken care of. The next day I handed over all my bill statements, and a check was written for each of them. My bailout was in the 10’s of thousands of dollars.
A great weight had been lifted from my wife’s and my shoulders. We were virtually debt-free, except for our household expenses.
My debt was paid in full.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus speaks many times about money and debt. In today’s parable, He uses it to convict someone of their lack of faith, sinfulness, and disrespect.
When reading the parable all by itself, you might think it’s strictly about debt. But you need to read the entire passage to fully understand what Jesus is saying in this parable.
“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,7:41 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day labor. and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50
It seems Jesus received many invitations to share a meal with others. This time it was a Pharisee named Simon who invited Jesus to dinner. It becomes evident very quickly that Simon is not a believer or follower of Jesus. If anything, He asked Jesus to His home to humiliate and test Jesus.
It seems odd that we find a woman who had lived a questionable lifestyle in the Pharisee’s home. But, back in Jesus’ time, doors were left open and people, like friends, family, and beggars, came in and out without invitation. So here we find a woman who had been sinful, who was now a believer. Somehow, she found out Jesus would be at Simon’s house and went there to show her love and adoration for Jesus.
Simon the Pharisee sees the woman (some writers believe it was Mary Magdalene), washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, drying them with her hair, and pouring perfume on His head. He voices his distaste for the woman to himself.
That’s when Jesus tells Simon the parable. If you haven’t figured it out, the woman is the person with the more significant debt, Simon is the one with the smaller one.
Jesus tells Simon the things he had not done up His arrival. Simon hadn’t washed Jesus’ feet, which was a tradition upon welcoming guests. He didn’t kiss Jesus hello, which is another tradition. And Simon didn’t pour oil on Jesus’ head, which is another act of hospitality. Many small items were neglected, but he was still wrong to neglect just because Simon didn’t like Jesus’ teachings.
The woman made up for everything Jesus’ host neglected. This woman was obviously already a follower and believer, so her sins were already forgiven. She came to Simon’s home to show her love and adoration for Jesus. Jesus tells her that her sins are forgiven and to go in peace.
The woman’s large debt was paid in full because of her faith and love of Jesus. We never learn what Simon’s post-story reaction to all this is, but you can be sure he definitely needed to do some soul searching.
Dear Jesus. Our debt is paid in full because of Your death and resurrection and our faith in you. Because of Your actions, our sins are forgiven as far as the east is from the west. Thank you for your undeserved love for us. Amen.