His only option was to forgive the debt

Flying a kite here…

During a Bible study exercise, I had a thought…

Which lead to some deeper thoughts…

Which lead to an idea…

As a class, we investigated Luke 7:36-50, or the narrative of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman, at a Pharisee’s party. We had a great discussion.

But, my thoughts flowed to a minor detail in the parable that Jesus gives to answer Simon’s internal struggle with Jesus’s love for this sinful woman.

Here’s the parable: “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, 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?”

Straight forward. However, I find it interesting that the only option the moneylender had was to forgive the debts. In another “moneylending” parable (Matthew 18) if a person could not pay a loan back, another option would be to throw them in prison.

In this parable, and with this moneylender, however, the prison option didn’t seem to be on the table.

So here is the logic of the moneylender: “these folks owe me money, they can’t pay me, I’d better forgive their debts.” What? Are you serious?

Jesus assumes the reaction of both former debt owners would be love, one more than they other, but love nonetheless.

Observation: God appears to be building his kingdom in unusual ways. Forgiving debts, hoping for love to be returned. Trusting relationship and the power of sheer grace. Perhaps the world will only be changed if someone has the guts to something unexpected.

Jesus enters Jerusalem to ransom God’s creation, on a donkey with a group peasants, singing a song of rescue (parodying Pilate’s entrance into Jerusalem with a warhorse and legions of soldiers). Jesus condemns the Temple instead affirming its primacy. Jesus allows himself to be crucified by the Romans, instead of running them off in an epic war.

Looking at it objectively, we’d probably consider this to be pathetic news.

When his tomb was found empty, all of his friends called it good news.

Because, as our Eastern Orthodox friends say, the whole cosmos came out of the tomb with him.

“If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? / But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” – Psalm 130:3-4



One thought on “His only option was to forgive the debt

  1. Interesting thoughts…….Perhaps the money lenders had money to give because of their generous hearts. Their hearts were not filled with greed and God blessed them because of it. It is completely opposite of what we see daily which makes it such a great story.

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