Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 7:40 - 7:42

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Luke 7:40 - 7:42


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DISCOURSE: 1502

THE INSOLVENT DEBTORS

Luk_7:40-42. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee, and he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor, which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.

PARABLES are well calculated to convey reproof in the most convincing, and at the same time in the least offensive, manner. Nothing could exceed the beauty and efficacy of Nathan’s parable to David: that also in the text was admirably adapted to the occasion [Note: Here the occasion should be briefly stated.].

I.       The parable itself—

It presents to our view three important truths:

1.       We all, though in different degrees, are debtors unto God—

[There is not a man on earth who has not violated the law of God: but, though all are guilty in his sight, some are far more so than others [Note: See the text.]. The profane and profligate sinner is doubtless worse than the more decent moralist. We must not, however, compare ourselves with others [Note: 2Co_10:12.], but try ourselves by the standard of God’s law; and if we bring ourselves to this test, we shall find no cause for boasting, even though we may have been preserved from gross offences.]

2.       No man, however little he may owe, can discharge his own debt—

[If we could obey the law perfectly in future, our obedience would no more compensate for our past disobedience, than our ceasing to increase a debt would discharge a debt we had already contracted: but we cannot fulfil all that is required of us, or indeed perform any one action that is absolutely free from all imperfection. How then shall we discharge our debt, when, with all our care, we cannot but daily increase it? Nor will repentance obliterate our offences against God’s law, any more than it will those committed against human laws. If therefore neither obedience nor repentance can cancel our debt, we must confess that “we have nothing to pay.”]

3.       But God is willing freely to forgive us all—

[There is no such difference between one and another as can entitle any one to a preference in God’s esteem, or procure him a readier acceptance with God. Every one who truly repents and believes in Christ [Note: The parable was not intended to set forth the doctrines of redemption, but merely the effect which a sense of great obligations will produce. And, if we would infer that we have no need of faith in the atonement, because the parable makes no mention of it, we must infer also that we may be forgiven without repentance, since there is no mention made of that.], shall surely obtain mercy: no recompence or composition is required to be offered by us [Note: Isa_55:1.]. On the contrary, an attempt to offer any to God would absolutely preclude us from all hope of his favour [Note: Gal_5:4.]. None can be accepted who will not come as bankrupts; nor shall any who come in this manner be rejected [Note: Isa_1:18; Isa_55:7.].]

Such being the import of the parable, we proceed to,

II.      The improvement that is to be made of it—

Our Lord evidently intended to reprove Simon, while he vindicated both the woman’s conduct and his own. Hence it seems proper to improve the parable,

1.       For the conviction of self-righteous Pharisees—

[Persons who think their debts small, feel little love to the Saviour themselves, and are ready to censure those who do love him. While they approve of zeal in every thing else, they condemn it in religion. But this disposition shews that their seeming piety is mere hypocrisy. If they had any true grace, they would delight to see Christ honoured, and to honour him themselves.]

2.       For the vindication of zealous Christians—

[We would not plead for a zeal that is without knowledge: but such a zeal as this grateful penitent discovered must be vindicated, though the whole world should condemn it. Are there any then who weep at the Saviour’s feet, and who seek by all means in their power to honour him? Let them go on boldly, yet modestly, fearing neither loss nor shame in so good a cause; and let them know, that he, for whom they suffer, will soon testify his approbation of them before the assembled universe.]

3.       For the encouragement of all penitent sinners—

[Our Lord, both in the parable, and in his address to the woman, shewed that no sinner, however vile, should be spurned from his feet: he even declared to her accusers, and revealed to her own soul, that he had pardoned her sins. Henceforth then let no man despair of obtaining mercy at his hands. Only let us acknowledge to him our inability to pay our own debt, and he will say to us, as to the woman, “Depart in peace, thy sins are forgiven thee.”]