Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 6 Study # 4
December 7, 2008
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
1901 ASV Translation:
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Teacher, say on.
41 A certain lender had two debtors: the one owed five hundred shillings, and the other fifty.
42 When they had not wherewith to pay, he forgave them both. Which of them therefore will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, He, I suppose, to whom he forgave the most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
- I. Luke's Statement Re: Jesus' "Answer".
- A. He had deliberately told his reader(s) that the Pharisee "...spoke within himself saying...". This almost has to mean that he did not speak aloud.
- B. Thus, his record that Jesus "answered" does exactly what the Pharisee had said would happen "...if He were a prophet...": He knew "who and what sort of person" it was with whom He was dealing.
- II. Luke's Inclusion of the Pharisee's Name.
- A. At this point, Jesus is recorded as addressing "Simon" by name.
- 1. This was not technically necessary for Luke's record.
- a. In that setting Jesus could have simply looked at the Pharisee until He caught his eye and then said what He wished to say to him.
- b. Even if Jesus had used the Pharisee's name, it was not necessary for Luke to record it because Luke could have recorded something like, "And Jesus said to the Pharisee, 'I have something to say to you...'."
- 2. Thus, the use of the name does bring with it the overtones of that "name".
- a. We have already had some significant exposure to the name "Simon" in Luke's record.
- 1) Without any "introduction" to "Simon", Luke told us in 4:38 that Jesus went from the synagogue to "Simon's house ... and Simon's wife's mother" was ill with a great fever. There is nothing obvious in this story to indicate "why" Luke wrote as if he assumed his reader(s) would know the person to whom he referred, or "why" he referred to him as "Simon" instead of his more well-known name, "Peter".
- 2) In Luke's next reference to a "Simon" (5:3) Jesus enters into one of the boats that was at hand where He was speaking and it is identified as "Simon's". As this particular story unfolds, Luke tells us enough about "Simon" for us to understand that he was a proud fisherman who thought that he knew his business well enough to not wish for anyone to tell him how to take care of it. But Luke also does a rather notable thing when Jesus proves to "Simon" that he isn't as "smart" as he thinks he is; he tells us that "Simon Peter" fell down at Jesus' feet and implored Him to "depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
- 3) Then, in 6:14 we are told by Luke that one of Jesus' chosen "apostles" was a man named "Simon" whom He renamed "Peter" (which explains 5:8's use of the double appellation after the fact). However, in this same context, there is another "apostle" whose name is "Simon" who was called "Zelotes" (6:15). This one is not "renamed" by Jesus, but does have another "name".
- 4) These prior records, taken together, give us a significant impression: if you are called "Simon", you are likely to think more of yourself than you ought (for even "Zelotes" implies a certain "sureness" of attitude that is not to be turned aside easily).
- b. Luke's record of the "Pharisee" falls directly into this "impression", for the man clearly thinks too highly of himself and too little of Jesus.
- c. In a far more distant context, Genesis 29:33 tells us of the origins of this "name" and it is tied directly into the attitude of Leah that Yahweh has "heard" that she is is hated and, therefore, has responded by enabling her to "out-perform" her "loved" sister. As Moses developed that issue, he tells us in Genesis 34:25 that "Simeon" was a vengeful and violent man who took advantage of men who were too sore to defend themselves. Significantly, "Simeon" goes unmentioned in the "Blessing" of God upon the tribes of Israel in Deuteronomy 33.
- d. The overall impression is that there is something terribly wrong with "Simon" in the direction of "performance superiority" and, perhaps, "cowardly vengence".
- B. The issue for "Simon" was absolutely fundamental: Who would love him more?
- III. Jesus' "Story".
- A. It is deliberately addressed to one who very confidently pursues his hypocrisy.
- 1. Simon said to Jesus, "Teacher...".
- a. This "appellation" was one of the "respectful greetings" that the Pharisees lusted after (Luke 11:43).
- b. This "appellation" was clearly contradicted by "Simon's" behavior toward Jesus: thus, it was just one more example of his hypocritical duplicity as one of those who defined life in terms of self-exaltation.
- 2. Luke records Simon's response to Jesus with a word that he only uses in his gospel five times, but uses in Acts twenty-six times (this is a total of thirty-one of the fifty-seven times it is used in the New Testament). This word is used in contexts where a fairly important issue is involved. Online Bible says it is related to "light" and "to bring to light" and defines it in terms of "making one's thoughts known". It may well be that Luke meant, "And he revealed himself when he said, 'Teacher, speak.'"
- B. It is about the reaction that is caused by the "grace" one receives from another.
- 1. Jesus sets the stage in terms of "debt", or "inescapable obligation".
- 2. He deliberately contrasts the level of obligation by using the term for what Matthew 20:2 sets as a rather typical "wage" for a day's worth of labor in a vineyard. One owed 500 such units of money and the other owed 1/10th of that. This would be the equivalent of 2 years' labor in a 5-day work week as opposed to two and a half months (the difference between, say, $72,000 and $7200).
- 3. He puts forth the "problem": neither has "of himself" the wherewithall to "restore" to the creditor what is inescapably owed.
- 4. Then He introduces the "grace" factor and says the creditor simply cancels both debts.
- 5. His "question" is this: Which of the two will "love" the creditor "much"?
- IV. Simon's Response.
- A. "I suppose that the one to whom he showed the greater grace (would "love" him "much")."
- B. Jesus claims that he is "correct".
- 1. On the face of it, Jesus seems to have been very simplistic. What other answer was even probable?
- 2. At that same level of "obviousness" is Jesus' extremely critical point.
- 3. However, Simon's hesitation ("I suppose") indicates that he probably felt like he was being led somewhere he might not want to go. It may also be a measure of his thinking that "love is not that simple" or that "that kind of 'love' doesn't last very long" or some such notion. However, in a "you owe me" culture wherein leverage over others is a fundamental tool of self-will, this kind of "love" is actually at the very foundations of function. According to Daniel 11:39 this will be one of the most primary of the methods of the antichrist who is to come. This means that it is a "tried and true" method. Thus, Jesus' use of this "principle" is one of those "universally recognized" principles that will allow no one to be able to claim, "I didn't know" when the Day of Accounting comes. In other words, it is fundamental to this universe that "gracious" treatment in the face of "obligation" generates, at the very least, the obligation of "love". With this Peter agreed in 2 Peter 1:9. The only "problems" in the application of the principle are two: if the level of the original obligation is very small, the resultant "love" will also be; and if the level of appreciation of the "grace" extended is very small, so also will the resultant "love" be. The two are, obviously, related, but there is a real difference in them. There is a difference between what one owes and what is one's perception of what he owes. But there is also this question: was Jesus teaching that God intends to "create" a sense of "obligation" by being gracious? Does "grace" come with a "hook"? Are the words of the ancient hymn, "O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be" true ? Well, Paul did write that he was a "debtor" in Romans 1:14 and that "woe is me if I preach not the gospel" in 1 Corinthians 9:16. There is this, however, which must be recognized if not understood: "Love" has its own sense of "obligation" and "bondage" has another: the two are not the same.