New Testament · Parables · Simple Truths

Parable Surprises – The Unequal Debts

This parable speaks of debt, and a few parables use this topic, since it was a common condition in the first century. A bit later in the career of the Lord He uses this topic in a somewhat lengthy parable of a man being forgiven a humongous debt. It is one of the more disturbing parables I can think of. But I am getting ahead of myself (again!).

Let’s take a look at

The Parable of The Unequal Debts

Luke 7:41-43

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

As mentioned in our introduction, we have a number of questions that will provide guidance in understanding each of these parables. Let’s review and delve into this parable.

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

According to Luke 7:36 and following verses, a Pharisee by the name of Simon invited Jesus into his home for a meal. Simon had also invited “others” to the meal according to Luke 7:49, and of course there was that instigator, that sinful woman.

When did the Lord give this parable?

During the Lord’s Galilean ministry, which was in His first year of public ministry.

By the way, I have recently found an interesting graphic of a timeline of the ministry of the Lord Jesus here. The website supplies this information. Visit to check the info out. I hope it is useful for your review and information.

Where did the Lord teach the parable?

Simon the Pharisee likely lived in the region of Galilee, near either the city of Capernaum or Nain. Both these cities were on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Why did the Lord give this message?

Simon asked a question. Under his breath! If’n I ask a question under my breath, I surely don’t expect anyone to respond. I usually do this type of complaining in order to justify my own bias’s. Jesus would take this opportunity to help Simon understand a basic truth, that had great implications.

I think if he had closed the door to his home and the woman couldn’t get in, everything would have been different. Of course I am being waggish at this point. But it raises a question in my mind. How did a woman, whom the general audience and Simon had disdain for, enter into the home?

Simon invited Jesus into his home, but the woman wasn’t invited. She entered the home of a Pharisee to bless the Master. What utter audacity! This is totally unexpected.

And what is more, Simon didn’t rebuke the sinful woman, but muttered under his breath, saying to himself that Jesus surely isn’t a prophet since this “sort of woman” was touching him.

It is truly warped what religion does to those engulfed in it. For a sinful woman to touch someone, to become “an issue” is beyond me.

Lets recap. A woman dowsing Jesus feet with ointment gave offence to a Pharisee, who had little estimation of who Jesus was. (It seems Simon thought of Jesus as simply a failed prophet!)

What was the message for the original audience?

Jesus responds to Simon’s thoughts in telling this story. Remember now, that Simon is thinking Jesus is simply a failed prophet, a prophet who is lacking in the basic understanding of the moral character of a woman, and is failing in keeping Himself “pure”.

Jesus tells a parable about two debtors, the sinful woman and Simon. The sinful woman owed 10 times the amount of debt than Simon. Of course, during the parable, Simon would not have recognized that he was the one owing a debt, but that will come later in Jesus explanation of the parable to Simon.

Both debtors were in debt. To the moneylender. Who is this moneylender Jesus? Looking back on this parable, we all have the privilege’s of knowing the “punchline”, but Simon is not wary of this yet. He is still in a fog!

This is the power of a parable, since it takes us out of the story until it is too late. This is what I call the Nathan principle, since Nathan the prophet did this so well with King David when he asked of judgment on the rich man who took the poor man’s sheep.

Both debts were forgiven by the moneylender, and a simple question was asked.

Who loves more?

Simon was a careful Pharisee, for he said “I suppose…” I am thinking the light is starting to dawn on Simon. This woman obviously loves Jesus.

The reactions of the two debtors reveals their estimation of the Son of God, their understanding of who this Jesus is. This estimation of who He is, is what fuels each of their reactions to the Messiah.

The audience finally get it. Who forgives debt / sins? A failed prophet? You can think that Simon, but it doesn’t change reality. The woman understood, that sinful woman!

What is the message for us today?

If I were there in Simon’s place, as he was “getting the point”, I would be preparing myself for a shaming.

My lack of love to Jesus would have been based on my wrong estimation of Him.

Simon thought He was a failed prophet, but the parable and His explanation makes it clear who Jesus is. Jesus is the Great Moneylender. The One to whom we all owe debt. If we could be honest with ourselves, like the woman, sinful as she was, and realize our debt, and the scope of forgiveness He provides to us, we would simply love Him and seek ways to show it.

This parable speaks to us as to our estimation of who this Jesus of Nazareth is. Is He a failed prophet, a misguided teacher, a good man?

What is your estimation of this Man named Jesus?

Who do you say He is?

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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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