Sermon 3015. The Two Debtors
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 1906.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JULY 14, 1867.
"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the one owed one hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they hadnothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him more?" Luke 7:41,42.
[Other Sermons on various parts of this Parable, are as follows: No. 2,768, Volume 48-DEBTORS AND DEBTORS; No. 1,739, Volume29-BANKRUPT DEBTORS DISCHARGED and No. 2,127, Volume 36-LOVE'S COMPETITION]
IT is not wise to compare ourselves with our fellow men. It is comparing one incorrect standard with another and is very aptto mislead. Still, as men will do this, as they will sail upon this tack, we will, for the moment, do the same with the viewof correcting some of their mistakes.
I. The very brief Parable before us suggests four thoughts upon which we will dwell for a few minutes. The first is that THEREARE DIFFERENT DEGREES IN OUR SINNERSHIP-some owe five hundred pence and others only fifty.
It would be very incorrect to say of all men, that they are alike sinful. That they are all guilty is true, but that theyare all equally guilty is not true. There are persons who would contend very earnestly for this distinction because they claimto be among the better sort of sinners. They claim that they are not one tithe as guilty as many whom they know and that,in comparison with more grossly vicious persons, they are all but innocent! We will admit that, my excellent Friend. We willadmit-not all, perhaps, that you would like us to admit-but we will at once allow that you are not so guilty as others. Wewill also admit that all sins are not alike degrading. There are vices, especially those which pollute the body, which manifestlylower men to the level of beasts, or worse than that, and we would not, for a moment, insinuate that our young friends whohave been educated in the midst of godliness and have been preserved from any taint of vice, are so degraded by sin as drunksand revelers, the profane and the debauched.
Moreover, we are persuaded that the penalties of sin will differ and that, albeit all the wicked shall be cast into Hell,yet there will be degrees in the anguish of that lost state. Our Master has Himself told us, "That servant which knew hisLord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knewnot, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomever much is given, of him shallbe much required." There are great criminals whose punishment shall be more intolerable than that of others-and there areothers, who have not sinned to the same extent, who, though justly punished with God's wrath- shall not endure it to the sameextent as those who have plunged more deeply into iniquity.
Thus we are prepared to admit that there are differences in sin, differences in the consequent degradation of sinners, anddifferences in the punishment due to sin. Our own conscience, common sense and right judgment teach us this, yet notwithstandingthe admissions, I want to put a few plain questions to you, dear Friends, who think that you are among the fifty-pence debtorsand who look down with some sort of disdain upon those who owe five hundred pence! And, first, let me ask you this question-Areyou quite sure that you are the lesser sinners. Are you certain that you are to be reckoned among the fifty-pence debtors?Remember that we must always judge sin not merely by its outward appearance, but by the motives and character of the personcommitting it-and also by the circumstances under which the offense was perpetrated.
Will you not all admit that a sin committed against light and knowledge is far worse than a sin of ignorance. If a man shouldoffend against the law of the land, not knowing it to be the law, his offense would not be as gross as that of
another man who, understanding what the law is, deliberately sets himself in opposition to it. It may be that some of thoseupon whom you have looked down as owing God five hundred pence may have been without the light that you have had. Probablythe most of them never had the privileges that you have enjoyed. Did not your godly mother pray over you from your very birth?Did not your anxious father diligently instruct you in the way of salvation? You have read the Bible, you have a tolerablyclear notion what is right and what is wrong, so you have sinned in the light-you have sinned knowing it to be sin. May not,therefore, your little sins, as you think them to be, really be more heinous in the sight of God than those apparently greatersins which others have committed without the same degree of light and knowledge that you have had?
Further, must not sin also be measured by the violence which a man has to do to his conscience in order to commit it. To somepersons, no doubt, from their early habits and even from their very constitution, I will not say that sin becomes inevitable,but certainly they glide into it almost by nature and without being conscious of any restraint-or the restraint is so littlethat they scarcely feel it. I know that there are some of you who, happily, had to pull and tug against the bit and bridlebefore you could live as sinners. Conscience has so sharply pricked you and made you so uneasy in your course of life, thatyou have had to wrestle with your own conscience as a man struggles with his adversary. You have had to clutch conscienceby the throat and try to throttle it and if you could have done so, you would have stifled, once and for all, that warningcry which became a constant nuisance to you. You could not sin with such pleasure as others could because your consciencewould not keep silent, so, may not those minor offenses of yours which have been committed, notwithstanding the alarms ofyour outraged conscience, have had in them a heinousness which does not apply to the sins of others who have not had to contendagainst this inward monitor when plunging into sin?
Yet again, dear Friends, may not example sometimes have a great deal to do with sinl When I see some of our young people incliningto be drunks, I am very sorry and I blame them. But can I wonder at their conduct when I see how many parents train up theirchildren as if they really intended to make drunks of them-tempting them to drink and giving them their first taste of thatwhich becomes a cause of stumbling to them? I do not see how, if it were the objective of some parents to make their boysdrunks, they could act otherwise than as they now do! I have heard a workingman say to his son, when he has passed him a jugof ale, "Take a drink, my lad," and he has looked quite pleased when the boy has taken a deep draught. And then he has takenhim to the gin palace and let him mingle freely with the evil company usually found in such a place! So, is there any wonderthat the boy becomes a drunk? Can a father blame his son for swearing when he is, himself, a blasphemer? No. And I say thatpeople who have thus been in the midst of sin from their very childhood, may not, after all, be such great sinners as otherswho have had the very opposite example set before them-and yet have committed these sins contrary to all the training of theirearly childhood. Some of us cannot recollect a fault on the part of our parents. Honestly looking back upon the private lifeof my father and mother, I cannot recall anything in their example which it would have been unsafe for me to imitate. Wellthen, if I have sinned, I have sinned against a parental example which I ought to have followed and, therefore, there mustbe more guilt in my fifty-pence sin than in the five-hundred-pence sin of others who have not had such an example as I had!
Do you not think, too, that circumstances greatly affect the comparative enormity of sin?? If a thief steals a loaf becausehe has starving children crying at home, would you give him the same punishment as you would award to another man who stealswhat he really does not need and who seriously injures the man he robs merely for the greed of gain? You all make distinctionsas to the motives which prompt to various actions-if you find that the motive, in one case, although not right, was more excusablethan in the case of another-you judge the first one the more leniently. How do you know, my dear Hearers who resisted thecalls of Divine Grace last Lord's-Day, that you were not more guilty than that man who was not here but who reeled home thatsame night, intoxicated? You came into direct contact with God's mercy and you resisted it-and that is more than the poordrunk did! And as to some of you seat-holders who are constantly here, yet still remain unconverted though we have entreatedyou to lay hold on Christ-I will not say it, but I almost think that your resistance of those continued invitations of Gracemay have in it more of moral guilt, in the sight of God, than some of those offenses for which men are shut up in prison andare execrated by their fellows! Many people do not regard sins against God as being so heinous as crimes against men, yetthey are even more so! And it is one of the marks of our common moral conduct that while a man may not be greatly offendedif you call him a sinner, he
would be very angry if you called him a criminal! That is to say such a man thinks there is not much amiss in having offendedGod, but he thinks it would be a dreadful thing to have broken the laws of his fellow men!
If you think these things over seriously, I should not wonder if anyone of you who at first said, "I am a fifty-pence debtor.I thank God that there are differences between sinners and that I am not so degraded as other men are"-should have to say,"It makes very little difference to me after all. It is true that I have never been a thief, I have never committed an actof unchastity, I have been an honest, upright, respectable member of society, yet, as I have not believed in Jesus Christand turned from sin, I may be among those who were apparently first, who shall be last, while some who seemed to be last,shall stand far before me." I shall notbe sorry, dear Hearer, if that is the point to which you come. Indeed, I shall ratherbe glad, for it will be a more hopeful position for you to occupy than that which you once felt was your right place!
II. Having thus shown you that there are degrees in sin, I shall now pass on to show you that THERE IS AN EQUALITY IN THEBANKRUPTCY OF BOTH THE GREAT AND THE LITTLE SINNERS.
Neither of the debtors in the Parable had anything with which to pay his debt. And when God means to save a soul, He makesit realize that it has nothing with which it can discharge its debt to God. If any of you think that you can do anythingtowardssaving yourselves, go and do it! But Christ will have nothing to do with you on those terms! You must be brought to feel thatyou are helpless, hopeless, lost, ruined and undone-and that you cannot lift even a finger to save yourself-but that the Graceof God must do everything for you, from the first to the last! And unless you are thus emptied, and humbled, and laid lowin the dust before God, I see no sign that His Spirit is effectually working in you-
"While we can call one mite our own, We get no full discharge."
Both these debtors knew that "they had nothing to pay." There are some men who are conscious of a great deal of guilt whooffer to discharge their liability by their repentance. "Oh," says such a man, "I am very sorry for my sin and that sorrowwill surely make up for it. My tears shall flow freely and I will deprive myself of this pleasure and that! Surely that isall that is needed." But the man whom God means to save knows that his repentance cannot atone for his past guilt. If I getinto debt, it is no use for me to be sorry-that sorrow will not pay my debt! And as I am immeasurably indebted to God, mytears of repentance will not discharge that debt-
"Could my tears forever flow," they would not atone for sin! I hope you all realize the Truth of what I am saying, for ifyou do, it is a token for good in your case.
Some others, though they cannot pay the full amount of their debt, hope to make a compromise. They will do their best andleave the Lord Jesus Christ to make up the rest. They cannot offer to God perfect obedience, so they offer such obedienceas they can-and they trust that will satisfy Him. But a soul that has been truly awakened by the Holy Spirit knows that "compromise"is quite out of the question. The Divine declaration is, "Cursed is everyone that continues not in all things which are writtenin the Book of the Law, to do them." There is not a word about some things which are required and other things which may beexcused. My dear Hearer, I trust you are convinced that no half-obedience can ever be accepted by God! If you are to be savedby your own works, you must be absolutely perfect in thought, word and deed from the moment of your birth to the hour of yourdeath! One crack in the crystal vase of perfection spoils it-and you all know that the vase was not only cracked, but smashedto atoms long ago. Do not trust in your own righteousness, but confess before God that you have "nothing to pay" off thatterrible debt which you have incurred through sin.
Some men give their note of hand and promise to pay their debt. They hope they will be better in the future than they havebeen in the past. But suppose they are? They will then be no better than they are always bound to be-and how can that improvementdischarge their past debts? Try that plan on one of your tradesmen. You owe him, shall I say fifty pounds? Well, then, goto him and say, "I cannot pay what I owe you, but I will never get into your debt again." Will that promise take your nameoff his ledger? You know that it will not! And so, even if you could serve God perfectly in the future, that would not putaway your sins in the past! The fact is, these promises of yours are just like the paper money which represents no real securityand so leads to bankruptcy. You may build up a nice-looking structure with
promises of good works which you will do in the future, but it will all come tumbling down one of these days-and great willbe the fall thereof.
This is the only safe declaration for a man to make-"O God, I am deeply in Your debt and have nothing to pay! If You wouldsave me through my repenting, even then, if You did not enable me to repent, I could not repent, for my heart is hard as astone! Lord, will You not take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh? And, Lord, if I am to be holy in the future,it must be Your Grace which will make me so. I know that if I am ever to enter Heaven, I must be holy. And I also know thatholiness must be worked in me by Your Holy Spirit. Consequently, it cannot be any credit to me- You must have the credit ofit all. As for me, I am like the two debtors, I have 'nothing to pay'-nothing whatever! If You send the sheriff's officerto take me and put me in prison, and tell me that I shall never come out until I have paid the uttermost farthing, I mustlie there forever and ever, for I know that it is not in my power to meet even one in ten thousand of Your just demands. Ifyou should lay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet, my building for eternity must be found wanting. Pullit down, Lord, and then build me up as You would have me!"
We are all equal here-"there is no difference." You respectable ladies and gentlemen are on a level with the worst villainsin the land! My Lord, you are no better off, in this respect, than a chimney-sweeper! Your Majesty, even you have no preference,in this matter, over the poorest woman in your dominions! If you are to be saved-high and low, rich and poor, you great andmighty ones, and you despised and abandoned ones-so must all bow together here as you will have to lie in earth's common grave!So must you bow down in one common lowliness of mind before your God, whose debtors you all are, confessing that you have"nothing to pay"-not a single rusty farthing of goodness in the whole human race! Jew and Gentile must bow together beforeGod, crying, "Guilty, guilty, GUILTY! We are guilty, everyone of us and we have nothing to plead in answer to the demandsof Your righteous Law. And even this confession, itself, is forced from our lips because we cannot help feeling that it is,alas, but too true." We are all equal here.
III. Passing on to the next point, we observe that when Sovereign Mercy dealt with these two debtors-the fifty-pence man andthe five-hundred-pence man-IT PUT THEM ON A LEVEL, AGAIN, for their creditor "frankly forgave them both."
The man who owed the five hundred pence could turn to the other debtor and say, "I am out of debt, my Brother!" And the otherone could say to him, "Give me your hand! I cannot say any more than you can, but, glory be to God, I cannot say any less,for I, also, am out of debt! I could not pay my fifty pence, so I could have been shut up in the debtors prison-and you couldnot pay your five hundred pence, so you, also, could have been kept in prison. And though I did not owe as much as you did,yet I owed more than I could ever have paid, so let us together bless the name of the Lord who has frankly forgiven us bothbecause His only-begotten and well-beloved Son has redeemed us from going down to the Pit by paying all our debt on Calvary'sCross."
There is one word that I want you to especially notice-"He franklyforgave them both." By that I understand that he forgavethem altogether because he willed to do so and not because of any reason in them why he should do so. Once and for all, hefully cancelled all their debts. And now, just as if they had never been in debt at all, he could not arrest them for debtand they had no cause to be afraid that he would do so, for he had no legal claim against them for he had, himself, by anact of Grace, forgiven them all that they owed-and they were, therefore, clear. Ah, my dear Hearers, your hearts must leapfor joy if you know that God has forgiven all your past sin! Sometimes, when we get to talking about the perfect pardon whichwe have received from God, some people say, "How egotistical, how presumptuous you are!" Well, we will be egotistical andpresumptuous in that sense-and the more we are so, the better will it be! Anyone who has believed in Jesus is wholly forgiven!Against me, if I believe in Jesus and against you, if you believe in Jesus, there is no sin recorded in God's Book of Remembrance!It is all blotted out! If you could turn the pages over, you would not find a single entry of the sin of a Believer. In God'ssight, if I have trusted in Christ, I am as pure as though I had never sinned, for I have been so washed in Christ's preciousblood that not a spot or wrinkle remains upon me! And you, too, Believer, are not half-pardoned. Christ is not half a Saviorto us, but a whole Savior! And the pardon which God gives to us is a full and final pardon. He does not forgive us upon conditionthat we do not go back to the world. He makes no such condition and He will not let us go back. He forgives us outright, andputs the whole of our sin away forever. He receives the prodigal back into His bosom and bids him sit at the table and feastwhile the music and the dancing make glad his heart!
Do you know, dear Hearer, that you are forgiven? "Oh," says one, "I would give all I have to know that." You may know it.If you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, that is a sure proof that you are pardoned. And you may live and you ought to live ina constant realization of perfect pardon through the precious blood of Jesus. There may have come into this place one whowould not like his name to be known, or his character to be described. He has gone very, very far into everything that isevil. But he is now standing at the foot of the Cross and he is looking up to the Crucified Christ and he can say, "My trustis in Jesus only." There is probably also here a young man whose life, from his youth up, has been most excellent-nobody couldever detect a flaw in his moral character. He, too, is looking upon the wounds of Jesus, and he also can say, "My trust isin Him alone." Now, these two persons are equally pardoned! That great sinner has no more against him in God's Book than thatexcellent youth who is also forgiven-"He frankly forgave them both"-nor forgave one of them fully and the other only partially,but, "He frankly forgave them both."
My eyes glance here and there upon some of my Brothers and Sisters in Christ whose life stories remind me of the differencesthere are between them-and also of the likeness which Divine Grace has worked in them. There are some here whose tongues wereused in blasphemy not long ago. The drunkard's cup was often at their lips and the drunkard's language was their usual speech.But they are washed, cleansed and sanctified! And now there is no difference between them and those who were preserved fromwandering out of the path of morality. "No difference," did I say? Sometimes I think that there is this difference-that thosewho have sinned much and have had much forgiven, are the warmest-hearted among us, the most faithful and the most earnest.So that if we, in our earlier days, seemed to excel them, they now excel us and we almost envy them their holy joy and earnestlove to the Lord who has washed them from their many sins! Still, there is an equality between these two classes. They areboth alike pardoned, both washed in the same precious blood, both clothed in the same spotless righteousness, both equallyadopted into the family of God, both equally secured by the Everlasting Covenant and both equally have the indwelling of theHoly Spirit! And they shall both equally stand at the right hand of Christ, wearing the white robes, waving the palm branches,and they shall equally share His victory as they sing, "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,and has made us kings and priests unto God and His Father-to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
IV. Now, lastly, THERE IS ANOTHER POINT OF DIFFERENCE-"Which of them will love him more?"
It is quite certain that there are some Christians who love the Lord Jesus Christ more than others do. Some who love Him muchwhile others only love Him a little. Shall I describe those who love Christ only a little? If I do, some of you will be ableto recognize your own portraits. They come to the place of worship pretty regularly. They sing, but not too loudly, for theyare afraid of being too enthusiastic. They seldom come to a Prayer Meeting and only occasionally to the week-night service.They take just sufficient spiritual nourishment to keep them alive! I suppose they are afraid of taking too much, lest theirspiritual nature should become too vigorous. They do have family prayer-sometimes. They do pray regularly, but it is veryshort. It may be sweet, but it is certainly very short. They do some good in the world-at least, we hope they do. They couldcount on one hand all the souls they have ever brought to Christ and all the good works they have ever done for the Lord JesusChrist might be recorded on a very small scrap of paper. Some of them are wealthy and they heard a man ask them to give atithe of their income to Christ. They thought he was a fanatic-they never dreamed of doing such a thing as he urged, thoughthey do, sometimes, give a sixpence to the collection! They like other people to be earnest. They do not object to that unlessthose people ask them, also, to be earnest. These little-loved people have believed in Jesus, so they will go to Heaven-butsuch a change will have taken place in them that we shall scarcely know them.
I have seen whole congregations of this sort of people! I have preached to them-that was terrible work, I can assure you.I have gone home with the deacon and he has been a person of the same sort. He didn't care to know how the cause was gettingon in London. Indeed, he didn't care much whether it was getting on or not. As for revivals, if you only mention the wordin the presence of such Brethren, they say, "No good ever comes of them." These people have had little forgiven, so they onlylove a little. They were never very great sinners and never had any deep repentance so, in their own estimation, they neverowed Jesus Christ very much-they are a sort of superficial Christians who will be "saved, yet so as by fire."
You hardly need that I should describe those who love Christ much-those who delight to praise Him, to pray in His name andto do all in their power to make Him known to others-those who give to God's cause at no ordinary rate,
and help us to fight Satan in no ordinary way and to spread the Gospel of Christ in no common fashion! Last week some of uswere at a meeting at which there was present a dear Brother in the ministry, the very flame of whose eyes seemed to set usall on fire-and when we have heard him speak from this platform, the very place has seemed to shake under the power of hisfervent proclamation of the Truth of God and his impassioned prayers! A man who is thus all soul and all heart cannot preachlifeless, heavy, drugging sermons-and cannot bear to be with people who are dull, cold and heavy of heart. He feels that hehas had much forgiven and, therefore, he loves much. I could also tell you of some godly Sisters who have given almost alltheir living to the cause of God and of others who give all their time to God's service, having sacrificed everything elsethat they may devote themselves to the cause of Christ. These are they who love much.
We have differences even in the ministry. We have some Brothers who preach twice in the week, and they get so weary that theyhave to go away for a long holiday. But there are others who can preach 10 times in the week, or who, if they are not preaching,are visiting their people from door to door-and yet they do not die, but bless God that they have the strength thus to serveHim! As it is in the pulpit, so is it in the Sunday school, and so is it with all classes of Christians- there is a difference.Some seem to be all heart and others seem to have no heart at all. There are some who serve the Lord with their whole souland others who give Him just the odds and ends of their time and strength. I pray God to raise up among us many Brothers andSisters who shall be eminent for their Grace and consecration to Christ!
What is the best way to reach this point? Not to be great sinners, but to feelthat you are great sinners! To have a deep senseof your own sinfulness. If you have never plunged into open vice, be thankful that you have not done so, but regard your sinin the light in which I tried to put it in the earlier part of this sermon. Set a clear view of it till you are humbled, brokendown and crushed under its ponderous weight. Then go to Jesus Christ with this load of sin and, trusting in Him, know thatyou are forgiven through His atoning Sacrifice. And then there will be a potent motive within you which will give strengthto your entire life and put muscle, nerve, sinew and bone into your Christianity! Then will you sing-
"Love I much?I've more forgiven! I'm a miracle of Grace!"
God bless this message to those poor trembling souls who are deeply in debt through sin-that they may see God's way of forgivingthem through the merits and death of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. And may those who are forgiven much love Jesus much, andmay God bless you all, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LUKE 7:36-50.
Verse 36. And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee's house, and satdown to meat It was usually a suspicious circumstance when a Pharisee desired to be familiar with Christ. It might generallybe suspected that he wished to entrap Him. Yet, on this occasion, if there was no real friendliness to Christ, there was atleast the appearance of it. We see what our Savior did when the Pharisee gave Him an invitation- "He went into the Pharisee'shouse, and sat down to meat." The Lord saw there an opportunity for usefulness. He knew that He would have a good reason forspeaking personally to this Pharisee, who, perhaps, was one of the better sort. At all events, our Lord felt that it was rightfor Him to go into that house, even if they did watch Him and try to catch Him in His talk. If there was hypocrisy there,there was the more need for His Presence, as Jesus Himself said concerning His eating with publicans and sinners, "They thatare whole need not a physician; but they that are sick."
37, 38. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house,brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, anddid wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. She was not a sinner inthe ordinary sense of the word, but she was "a sinner" by trade, "a sinner" by profession. It always seems to me that in thisdescription of her, every word is emphatic. There is much meaning in every separate action of the woman and, even in her littlemannerisms, there is something that is instructive to us. Our Lord was reclining at His meal and His feet were turned towardsthe door, so that she had not to come far into the house before she reached His feet. And there she stood "at His feet." Thoseare blessed words, "at His feet" That is where we, also, should stand and weep. That
is where we should sit and learn. That is where we should wait and serve. That is where we hope to live and reign forever-"atHis feet."
This woman "stood at His feet behind Him"-as if she were unworthy to be looked upon by Him, but found it honor enough to bebehind Him, so long as she was but near Him-"at His feet behind Him, weeping"-with sorrow for her sin, with joy for her pardon,with delight in her Lord's Presence, perhaps with grief at the prospect of what yet awaited Him. And she "began to wash Hisfeet with tears." O sweet repentance which fills the basin better than the purest streams of earth could ever do! Then sheunbound her tresses-those nets in which she had, perhaps, caught many a man when she had hunted for the precious life afterher former sinful manner. But now she uses those tresses for something better, she makes a towel of her hair. That which washer pride shall now fill that humble office and even be honored thereby. "And kissed His feet." Oh, the tenderness of herlove and the strength of her passion-a sacred one, not born of earth at all-for that dear Lord of hers! She kissed His feetand then she poured upon them the precious perfumed ointment which had cost so much.
39. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spoke within himself saying. Well, what did he say? I think thatif some of us, taught of God, and let into the secret of eternal love, had been there, we would have whispered to one another,"What a change has been worked in that woman! There she is, weeping and washing the Savior's feet, when, but the other day,she was standing at the corners of the streets, in the attire of a harlot, plying her accursed trade." How greatly we wouldhave rejoiced to see her! But it is only Divine Grace that teaches us to rejoice over even one sinner that repents and Simonthe Pharisee appeared to know little or nothing of Divine Grace! He had, however, the good manners not to say aloud what hethought, but, "he spoke within himself, saying."
39. This Man, if He were a Prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that touches Him: for she is a sinnerYet "this Man" was a Prophet and He didknow "who and what manner of woman" that was who touched Him! More than that, He knewwhat manner of woman His Divine Grace had made her and how true, how pure was the love which she was then manifesting to Him!And He knew how deep was her repentance, how changed her heart, how renewed her entire life was. He knew all about her, butpoor Simon could not know "this woman" as Christ knew her.
40. And Jesus, answering, said unto him, Simon, I have something to say unto you. And he said, Master, say on. Christ oftenanswers people who do not speak audibly. He answers those who only speak in their hearts. So you who are silently prayingmay take comfort. If Jesus answers a Pharisee who speaks in his heart against Him, much more readily will He answer His ownpeople when they are speaking in their hearts to Him! It was a hopeful sign that Simon used a respectful title in speakingto Christ and that he was willing to listen.
41-43. There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when theyhad nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?" Simon answered andsaid, I suppose that he to whom he forgave more. And He said unto him, You have rightly judged. Now, dear Friends, I hopethat those of us who have had much forgiven are proving, by the warmth of our love, how right was this judgment on the partof Simon. If you have had much forgiven, be well to the front in every struggle on behalf of the cause of Christ! Be wellto the front, also, with your gifts for Him-bring your alabaster box and break it for Him. Wait not for anyone to ask you,much less to press you, to give to Him who gave His all for you, but, spontaneously, out of the love you bear to Him who hasloved you so much as to die for you, prove that you love Him most of all.
44. And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, See you this womanl Christ knew that Simon did see her, and that he hadjust been sneering at her in his heart. "See you this woman?"
44. I entered into your house, you gave Me no water for My feet: but she has washed My feet with tears, and wiped them withthe hairs of her head. "I became your guest and, therefore, as My host, the first thing you should have done was to give theordinary Oriental hospitality of washing My feet. 'You gave Me no water for My feet; but she has washed my feet with tears,and wiped them with the hairs of her head.'" What a changing of places there is now! The Lord has made the first to be lastand the last to be first! Simon thought himself far in advance of this woman, but now that Christ had explained their truepositions, I should think he began to see that the woman was far ahead of him.
45. You gave Me no kiss. Yet that was the Eastern custom in welcoming an honored guest.
45. But this woman since thee time I came in has not ceased to kiss My feet. "At best, you would only have kissed Me once,but this woman, since I came in, has never left off kissing My feet. With a sacred audacity of love, she has lifted My feetto her lips and kissed them again and again." So, see here again how the first is last, and the last first.
46. My head with oil you did not anoint: but this woman has anointed My feet with ointment. "That is a common custom in thecase of a guest of honorable estate, but you did not observe it. Yet this woman has poured upon My feet the most preciousform of perfume that could be procured anywhere."
47. 48. Therefore I say unto you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven,the same loves little. And He said unto her, Your sins are forgiven. There I see the clear run of the argument- that she isa woman who has had much forgiven by Christ and that is the reason why she loves Him so much. But often, when an inferenceis very natural and plain, the Savior leaves men to draw that one for themselves, while He draws another. He puts the sameTruth in another shape-"Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the sameloves little." I am afraid that there are many professed Christians who must have had very little forgiven them, for theylove Christ very little. This seems to be the age of little love to Christ. There are some few who love the Master intensely,but oh, how few they are! Some persons think they are only very little sinners and we are told, nowadays, what a little thingsin is, and what a little place Hell is, and what a very short time the punishment of sin will last! Everything is accordingto scale and it must be so in religion! As you diminish the guilt of sin and the punishment of sin, you also diminish thesense of obligation in being saved from sin. Consequently, you diminish our love to Christ and we shall gradually get lessand less, I fear, unto the old scale, the old balance! The old shekel of the sanctuary shall once again be used by us.
49. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this that also forgive sins "Who is this whocan thus absolve from guilt?
50. And He said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace. "Go home, good Woman, do not stay here and be botheredby these people." And oftentimes that is the best advice that we can give to new converts. There is a theological controversyraging and the jargon of the different schools of thought is being used by one and another, but, do go home, good Soul. Youneed not trouble about controversial matters. Your sins are forgiven you. Your faith has saved you. If you know that, youknow as much as you need to know just now. Go home and be quiet and happy. "Go in peace."