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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.
The bearing of this is best seen in connection with the circumstance calling it forth. Jesus had accepted a Pharisee's invitation to dine. In the house, while reclining Oriental fashion at a table, a woman of blemished character approached Jesus from behind, and began to kiss his feet and wipe them with the hair of her head, and anoint them with precious ointment. The Pharisee, who knew the character of the woman, watched the proceeding with some considerable contemplations. He was undecided in his mind as to the true character of Christ.
He had evidently asked him to dine for the purpose of getting a closer view of him than he could get out of doors or in the synagogue, and this incident of the woman taking such liberties with him unrebuked, exercised him unfavourably. The argument going on in his mind was, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him." The parable was Christ's way of meeting this argument, for he not only knew who and what manner of woman the woman was, but he knew what was passing in the Pharisee's mind, though the Pharisee was not aware of it.
Christ's application of the parable was that the very character of the woman was the explanation of her affectionate attention -- so different from the Pharisee's cold courtesy. Her greater love was the result of the forgiveness of her many sins. "To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." On reflection, it will be found that this principle goes beyond the individual case that called forth its enunciation.
It supplies the key to the plan on which God is guiding the earth to its everlasting place in the universe. That plan is the permission and the cure of evil, with reference to the supremacy of His declared will in the minds and actions of men. It is a distressing process while it lasts: as Paul testifies, and we all know from experience:
"The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." But enlightened intelligence is enabled to endure it in view of the other testified fact, that the affliction is "working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." But for the evil, the good never could have been appreciated as it requires to be -- in humility and gladness.
The prevalence of sin provides the occasion also for forgiveness of sin; and forgiven sin opens the way for love and joy. The multitude of God's glorified children could never have sung the thrilling strains of the gladsome song heard in vision by John in Patmos, if there had not first been a population requiring to be washed from their sins by the blood of the Lamb. It required the reign of sin, misery and death to prepare the way for that glorious song, and all the unutterable glories it represents in detail:
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and wisdom, and riches and honour, and glory and blessing.... Thou hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue and people and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth."