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Two Notable Miracles -- Luke 7:1-18
“Now when He had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die, and when he heard of Jesus he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, Lord, trouble Thou not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof: wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee, but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth: and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things He marvelled at him and turned Him about, and said unto the people that followed Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick. And it came to pass the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and much people. Now when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother and she was a widow; and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited His people. And this rumor of Him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about. And the disciples of John showed him of all these things”- Luke 7:1-18.
In this wonderfully precious seventh chapter of Luke we have four very striking illustrations of the grace of God in Christ overleaping all boundaries and flowing out to meet the needs of troubled hearts. The centurion was a Roman, not one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to whom Christ was sent (Matthew 15:24). The widow’s son was already dead and the body was being carried to the burial-place. Only divine power could avail. All human hope was gone. The bewildered disciples of John were troubled because the Kingdom did not immediately appear. In grace Jesus showed them the signs of the Kingdom so as to confirm their faith and that of their teacher, now in prison. Last of all, the poor woman who found forgiveness at His feet was a sinner of the streets, despised by the self-righteous, but just the one for Jesus, who had come, not to seek out the righteous, but to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). It is abounding grace throughout-grace that delights to give, and asks nothing in return, but which produces gratitude and loving service on the part of the recipient. Jesus never wrought miracles to gratify curiosity or to compel the amazement and admiration of carnal worldlings. Every putting forth of His power was with the distinct objects in view of glorifying God and ministering to human need. His heart of compassion went out to men in their sorrows and distresses, and it was His joy to speak the word of healing and to deliver the troubled soul. He could not be indifferent to what sin had wrought, and so He came to destroy, or undo, the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8). He did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them (Luke 9:56), that men might be at their very best for God.
When we speak of anything as miraculous, we mean that it is beyond the power and ability of the natural man. A miracle is the putting forth of supernatural power, and as found in Scripture, is always to alleviate human sorrow or distress and as a manifestation of divine authority. Jesus was accredited as the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel by the mighty works which He performed.
In the present portion we have, first, the healing of a Roman centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10); and then the raising up from death of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-18). We shall consider these in their order as here set forth.
We are told that as Jesus entered into Capernaum, after preaching the great sermon, a portion of which is preserved for us in the previous chapter, and a fuller record given in Matthew 5:0 to 7, He was met by a deputation of Jewish elders, who came to Him on behalf of a military officer, a centurion, whose servant (to whom he was greatly attached), was seriously ill. Matthew tells us the centurion himself came (Matthew 8:5), but we can readily understand that the elders presented his case to the Lord, as representing him. The discrepancy exists only in the minds of men who seek for some fancied evidence that Scripture is not wholly inspired by God. The case was urgent. The young man was already in a dying condition.
The elders pressed the claim of the centurion by declaring “He was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” It is significant that in recent years a synagogue of evident Roman construction but with distinctly Jewish ornamentation has been uncovered among the ruins of Capernaum. It is a thrilling sensation to stand on the dais in that ancient building and reflect that possibly one’s feet are resting on the very stones where the holy Saviour’s feet once stood! This was my privilege some years ago.
A centurion was a captain of one hundred men, in the Roman army. This officer had a servant, a bondsman, whom he loved and who was at the point of death. It is evident that this centurion was a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. He had heard of Him through his friends and, probably, had listened eagerly to His gracious messages. He had witnessed His works of power and he was convinced that Jesus was more than man. Though himself of a more exalted station in life than Jesus, he nevertheless recognized Christ’s superiority, and so he sent messengers pleading for mercy and help, not arrogantly demanding attention. His faith was a cup of joy pressed to the lips of the blessed One who was despised and rejected by so many whom He sought in love to save.
Jesus immediately started for the centurion’s home, but on the way was met by other messengers, who, speaking on behalf of their soldier friend, said, “Lord trouble not Thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter my house.” Note the difference. The elders said: “He is worthy.” He himself insisted: “I am not worthy!” He was one who had taken his due place of repentance as an unworthy sinner before God. Realizing something of the true nature and character of Jesus he said, “Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee; but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.” As a military man he explained that he could speak with authority and his soldiers would be obedient. Surely Jesus could speak in the same way and rebuke the disease that threatened the life of his servant!
Such an expression of trustful confidence gladdened the heart of our Lord. He marvelled at the man’s simple faith-a faith such as He had not found in Israel. Nothing glorifies God like confidence in His Word. In response to the centurion’s faith, the apparently dying man was instantly restored. This was faith indeed! He did not feel that the personal presence and touch of Jesus was needed to heal the dying servant. He recognized the fact that “where the word of a king is, there is power” (Ecclesiastes 8:4), and he was sure that Jesus had that authority, and that a word from Him would bring health to the one who was so ill.
Faith’s reward is sure. When the messengers returned to the house, they found the servant well, and inquiry proved that the change for the better had come at the very time when Jesus spoke the word (Matthew 8:13).
But a greater evidence of His power was soon to be given. On the following day Jesus went with His disciples to the nearby city of Nain, the ruins of which are still to be found in Galilee. A large throng followed them, doubtless stirred by what had taken place the day before, and hoping to see some other great wonder wrought by Jesus; nor were they disappointed. As the crowd drew near the village, they saw a funeral procession wending its way to the cemetery. They soon realized it was the funeral of a young man, whose widowed mother was the chief mourner. As Jesus drew near, His tender heart was filled with compassion as He beheld the evidences of her grief. He bade her cease weeping; then touching the bier on which the corpse lay, He said with authority, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise!” Immediately, in response to that voice which shall one day awaken all the dead, the young man opened his eyes. Life returned to that cold body. To the amazement of all, he sat up and began to speak. How graphically Luke describes it all, and what a stirring of heart there must have been in the breasts of the many on-lookers as Jesus “delivered him to his mother.” Who can dry tears like Jesus? Some day He will wipe away all tears from the eyes of His redeemed (Revelation 21:4), for He is God as well as Man. When He bade the widow dry her tears, He did not merely seek to soothe, but He was about to work a miracle that would fill her heart with unexpected joy.
It was such a demonstration of divine power as they had never known before and they glorified God, declaring that a great prophet had risen up among them.
The news of this mighty miracle went abroad through all Galilee and Judaea, even coming to the ears of John the Baptist, who was pining in prison because of his faithfulness in rebuking King Herod’s wickedness.
Thus God had borne witness to the claims of His Son, who in grace had come into the world to be the Saviour of sinners.
It has pleased God to honor our faith, because faith is that which honors Him. Faith takes Him at His word, and counts the things which are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). But it is not faith that does the work. It is but the means which God uses to unloose His unlimited power. Faith is the hand which lays hold of Omnipotence. As Man on earth, our Lord was the pattern Man of faith and He taught faith to others. He chose, in this scene of His humiliation, to live in daily dependence upon the living Father (John 6:57). Thus the works of power He wrought were those which the Father gave Him to do (John 14:10). In rebuking disease and death, and in saving from sin those who sought His grace, He was manifesting the heart of God toward a needy world. His concern for the life and health of mankind was but the expressed desire of God the Father, that all men who believe in Him might be at last delivered from the effects, of sin. It is not always His will to grant perfect; health now, but faith can firmly trust Him in every circumstance.
Christ's Endorsement Of John The Baptist -- Luke 7:19-35
“And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto Him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto Thee, saying, Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour He cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind He gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard: how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. And when the messengers of John were departed, He began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. And all the people that heard Him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? And to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of Man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children” - Luke 7:19-35.
During the early part of our blessed Lord’s ministry, John the Baptist was arrested by order of King Herod because of his faithfulness in seeking to press upon the conscience of that wicked monarch his vileness and corruption, particularly in connection with his adulterous relation with his brother’s wife, Herodias. For months John was allowed to languish in prison.
According to tradition, this was the castle of Machaerus, a stronghold in the wilderness of Judaea overlooking the Dead Sea. There is no positive proof, however, that John was there incarcerated. Machaerus is quite a distance from Tiberias, where Herod held his court and where John was brought to be beheaded. At any rate, wherever he was confined, it must have been for him a strange ending to his great ministry. He who had been used to speak to thousands and who had presented the Lord Jesus to them as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world, now seemed to be neglected and forgotten. Doubtless, there would come to him from time to time rumors of the great miracles that Jesus did, and reports of His discourses, but there was nothing to indicate that He was actually presenting Himself to Israel as the promised Messiah. Whether John himself began to entertain doubts as to this, or whether it was simply his disciples who were perplexed, we cannot now say, but we are told in this passage that John called unto him two of the disciples, and gent them to Jesus, inquiring “Art Thou He that should come, or look we for another?” Could it be that Jesus, like John himself, was simply another forerunner of the true Messiah, or was He actually the promised King, and was there some reason for which He refrained from asserting His authority? These were the problems involved in John’s inquiries.
When these men came to Jesus, they asked Him according to John’s instructions. We do not read that He gave any immediate answer, but He permitted them to look on as He healed many of various diseases and plagues and cast out demons. He also gave sight to some that were blind. These were the visible tokens of His Messiahship and should have counted far more than any words in proving that He was truly the expected One. After John’s disciples observed the evidences of His power, Jesus told them to return to John and tell him of the things they had seen and heard: how that “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” What more could Messiah do so far as ministering to the needs of men? Jesus added, “Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” That is, He meant those who would not be stumbled by His failure to assert Himself in the way that many in Israel expected Messiah to do.
No sooner had the messengers of John left than the Lord began to speak to the people concerning His forerunner. In a most appreciative way He insisted on the greatness of the ministry of this devoted man. There is something here that should be very precious to our hearts. We are all inclined, at times, to feel that we have been neglected and forgotten, and the Lord does not always speak words of endorsement directly to us, but we may be assured of this: if we have sought to be faithful to Him, He always approves us before His Father and the holy angels. John himself could not hear what Jesus said to the multitude. If he could have done so, it would, no doubt, have been a great encouragement to him, but he was left in ignorance of this for the time, in order that his faith might be more firmly established.
The Lord inquired, first of all, “What went ye out into the wilderness for to see?” And then suggested an answer to the question. “A reed shaken with the wind?” John surely was not that. He was a strong, fearless messenger of the truth, not turned aside by any opposition. “But,” continued the Lord, “what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment?” Was John like many of the leaders in Israel, one who looked upon his office as a lucrative profession and profited by it, and so lived in luxury, and dressed magnificently in order to impress the people? Such men had access to kings’ courts and were honored by enjoying the favor of rulers. But it was otherwise with this wilderness preacher. Again the Lord puts a question. “But what went ye out to see? A prophet?” Immediately He adds, “Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.” A prophet is one who speaks directly for God. He is not merely one who foretells future events, but he is one who speaks forth divine truth in the energy of the Holy Spirit. This indeed characterized John the Baptist.
The Lord then definitely identified John as the one whose coming was predicted in Isaiah 40:3. He declared, “This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.” Whatever John’s doubts or those of his disciples may have been, if any, as to the Person and ministry of the Lord, because He did not immediately ascend David’s throne, Jesus Himself leaves no possible doubt in the minds of those who were prepared to receive His Word, as to the identity of John himself.
He was the one whose coming had been foretold over seven hundred years before he appeared. It was given to him to herald the advent of Israel’s Messiah, God’s Son, the world’s Redeemer.
Because of this special privilege granted to John, the last of the prophets, Jesus added, “I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and all the rest of the prophetic brotherhood, looked forward to the coming of Messiah, but it was given to John alone to actually present Him to Israel and proclaim Him definitely as the long-expected Deliverer.
John was the last of the Old Testament prophets. We are told elsewhere, “The law and the prophets were until John.” Following him we have the bringing in of the acceptable year of the Lord, the presentation of Christ Jesus as the only Saviour, who came to establish the kingdom of God on earth. It was given to John to direct people to the King and to stand, as it were, at the open door of the kingdom and invite people to enter; but he did not live himself to go into the new dispensation and so become a member of that kingdom in the form in which it has taken since Christ came into the world. And so Jesus said, “He that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
We need to remember that the terms “the kingdom of God,” as used here, and “the kingdom of heaven,” as used in Matthew, refer at times to two different aspects of the kingdom. They speak primarily of heaven’s rule established on earth. That kingdom was offered to Israel, but rejected by them. Nevertheless, the authority of the Lord was recognized and has been recognized by millions since, and these enter into the kingdom of God in its present spiritual and mystical form. John will have his part in the coming age in the manifested kingdom, but he had no part in the kingdom as now set up in the hearts of men, while the King is on the Father’s throne, awaiting His own second advent.
We have the results of John’s ministry set forth in Luke 7:29, where we are told that “all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.” That was a baptism unto repentance. It was the acknowledgement on the part of the baptized that they were sinners and deserved to die. In making this acknowledgment they justified God. Baptism itself had no part in their salvation. That could only be through the Lord Jesus Himself, whose great atoning work John proclaimed when he exclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” John never taught that baptism, as such, could take away sin. His baptism was only the outward acknowledgment of the fact that men were sinners and needed a Saviour. Great multitudes in Israel listened to John with appreciation and exercise of conscience, and so received the testimony of God against themselves and humbly owned their lost condition by being baptized of John. But it was otherwise with the majority of the leaders. The Pharisees and lawyers, we are told, rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. These proud, haughty legalists refused to take the place of lost, needy sinners, and so, would not stoop to a baptism which spoke of the necessity of repentance.
In the verses that follow, Luke 7:31-35, the Lord draws a vivid contrast between the conscience-searching ministry of John the Baptist and the message of grace, which He came to proclaim. He likens the men of the generation to children sitting about in the market-place. One group of them are trying to arouse the others to take part in some childish games. First they say, as it were, “Let us play wedding,” and they attempt a merry tune upon their pipes, but the others refuse to dance. Then the first group say, “Well, if you will not play wedding, let us play funeral.” And so they pipe out a doleful elegy. But the others refuse to mourn. The ministry of John was more like the latter. He came with a very solemn message, calling upon people to recognize the seriousness of their condition as sinners needing a Saviour, but the Pharisees and those of their group turned away with a sneer and said, “He hath a demon.” Jesus came with a more joyous message, mingling with publicans and sinners, as He proclaimed that grace and truth which offered salvation to all who would trust in Him; but the legalists turned coldly away, declaring Him to be a gluttonous man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But Jesus said, “Wisdom is justified of all her children.” That is, in the wisdom of God there is a time to stress the importance of repentance; there is also a time to stress the preciousness of the grace of God, and He will be glorified in both messages and in whatever servants He uses to give them forth.
Christ And The Sinful Woman -- Luke 7:36-50
“And one of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This Man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him: for she is a sinner. 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. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose he, to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet: but she hath washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest Me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss My feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed My feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And He said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace”- Luke 7:36-50.
How God delights to emphasize His grace to great sinners! It was always a matter of distress to the Pharisees that the Lord Jesus showed such a deep interest in those who were despised and outcast because of their wicked lives. His heart went out to them. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. I remember hearing a great evangelist say many years ago, “Oh, how hard it is to find sinners; I would be willing to go any distance to find a sinner who recognizes his need of a Saviour.” We read in Proverbs 20:6, “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” If you try to talk to most men about the Saviour and their need of Him, they will begin at once to tell you of their own merits. They try to make out a good case for themselves, covering their sins and insisting on their goodness.
In the Word of God, you will find that as long as people try to justify themselves, God cannot help them. But when they recognize their need and own their guilt, He can save them.
I have drawn attention before to the fact that in this Gospel we read of several instances where the Saviour dined out. Luke, who is presenting Jesus as the perfect Man, shows Him to us at the dinner-table. There is no place where a man relaxes and manifests his true character as when he is at the table with good friends around him and good food before him. Our Lord did not turn down invitations, even though He knew there was some ulterior motive in inviting Him. So here He accepted this Pharisee’s invitation and went to his house for dinner, and had hardly reclined at the table before this interesting situation took place.
We need to remember that it was not customary for the Jews to sit up at the table in chairs like we do. The table itself was generally in the shape of a horseshoe and the guests reclined at the outside of the table, on couches. One took his place and reclined, supporting himself on his right elbow, and served himself with his left hand. Thus, servants passing about could readily wash the feet, which were farthest from the table.
Right there outside the door, a poor woman is looking in. I have no question but a number of those in the house knew who she was. She had no character, was despised by everyone, and yet she wanted to see Jesus and to seek relief from her burden of sin. Her heart was distressed and she longed for deliverance and for cleansing. We look down, perhaps, on those in sin and say, “Thank God we are not like them.” But we little realize how close some of them are to the kingdom of heaven; closer than those who are self-righteous. She was an immoral woman. All down through the centuries respectable people have looked down on her kind as they looked down on her. But we need to remember that there never was a fallen woman unless some man had caused her wretched condition. He who is responsible for the poor woman’s condition is accepted as a member of good society, while she who has fallen is outside. Jesus said the publicans and harlots would go into the kingdom of heaven before the hard-hearted Pharisees.
I imagine this woman was thinking, “If I could only get to Jesus, He would understand, He would know how to deal with me.” Possibly, the servants were keeping their eyes on her. But she was waiting and watching and perhaps the moment the servants’ backs were turned, in she slipped and there she is down on her knees at the couch where Jesus’ exposed feet were. She burst into tears, and realizing her need of cleansing, she began to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and to dry them with her beautiful hair. With that lovely hair, which perhaps had lured others into her house of shame, she was now wiping the feet of Jesus. Impulsively she began to kiss His feet. This annoyed the Pharisee. Jesus perceived the thoughts of this man. “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This Man, if He were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him; for she is a sinner.” I wonder how he knew so well. He knew her character. He knew the life she had lived. The Pharisee would have passed her by. Jesus did not shrink from her. He never does from any sinner. He did know what manner of woman she was who touched Him. But that was why He welcomed her. He came to redeem sinners. It rejoiced His heart when such came to Him in repentance.
He read every one of Simon’s thoughts, and He knew all her thoughts. She was thinking, I am not worthy to come here, and yet He will surely do something for me. Jesus turned to Simon and just as though Simon had spoken out, He answered him: “Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.” And Simon said, “Master, say on.” Jesus answered, “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other, fifty.” Five hundred pence does not mean very much to us if we think of it in our own pennies, but according to the standards of those days it meant a great deal of money. There are some men who realize that they are great sinners and have broken the law of God and they feel hopeless-these are the five-hundred-pence sinners. But there are others who say that they are not very wicked, they know they have not always obeyed the law of God, but did not intend to do wrong; they have failed here and there, but in the main they are very good. These are the fifty-pence sinners.
A Sunday School teacher was speaking to her class of two kinds of sin-sins of commission and omission, and we are responsible for both. She asked, “What are sins of commission?” The children replied, “They are sins we commit.” Then she inquired, “What are sins of omission?” One boy answered, “They are sins we meant to commit, and forgot to.” That is not it. But every time you fail to do the thing you know you should do, this is as truly sin as the evil things you did. The fifty-pence sinners have nothing to pay, nor have the five-hundred-pence sinners. Whether you realize it or not, whether you are a great sinner, or, as you imagine, you are not much of a sinner, the fact remains, that, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” How could you make up for your sins? That lie you told! You can never undo it! That time you took the name of God in vain! You can never atone for the wrong you did to God, and His Name. That time you fell into some great moral evil! You can never make that right, either toward God or to the one with whom you sinned. You have nothing to pay. You owe so much and you have nothing with which to pay it and you cannot settle it. What are you going to do about it? Jesus went on to say, “When they had nothing to pay, he (to whom they were indebted) frankly forgave them both.” That is just a picture of the grace of God in Christ. Through the work of Jesus on Calvary, God is able to forgive every sinner who comes to Him in repentance.
A story is told of an eccentric Irish nobleman who some years ago became converted, and whose salvation was the wonder of the countryside. He was so filled with the sense of the grace of God that he began to go around preaching, and people called him “the crazy nobleman.” On one occasion he posted notices to this effect, that he would be in his office from ten to twelve on a given day, and he would be prepared to settle the debts of everyone of his tenants who would come to him. Some of the folks could not read it and would ask someone else to read it to them. Many would not believe it. So they talked about it, and the days went on and finally that certain day arrived, and the people went down to his office. At ten o’clock sharp, the carriage pulled up in front of his office, and the nobleman got out and entered it with his secretary. Outside, the tenants talked among themselves as to whether he really meant it. They could hardly believe him. About half-past eleven o’clock, an old man and his aged wife came hobbling along, and the old man had a number of bills in his hand, and he asked, “Is it true that his lordship said he would pay our debts?” They replied, “Why don’t you go in and try it?” He was so anxious to be free of debt that he decided to do so. He and his wife went in to see if his lordship would pay their debts. Outside, people waited anxiously to see what would happen as he handed his bills to the landlord. His lordship told his secretary to total them up and give him a check. “Oh, my lord, thank you so much! I am over eighty years old, and now my wife and I can die with our debts paid. Now we must go out and tell the rest.” But the nobleman replied, “You took my offer by faith and because you believed me your debts are paid. The rest must do the same.” They outside waited and wondered why the old people did not come out. Finally twelve o’clock struck, the door opened and the nobleman stepped out, and the old couple followed. The others asked the old man if he had his debts paid. He said, “Yes.” Then they all crowded about pleading to have theirs paid also. But the nobleman said, “My friends, I gave you the opportunity to come, and I would have paid everything, but you would not believe me, so now you will have to pay them yourselves.” He then used this illustration as a basis to preach the gospel to them. If you will not come to Christ, then there is no one to blame but yourselves if you have to face that dreadful accounting day of judgment.
“And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.” Jesus said, “Yes, you have answered well. You are like that fifty-pence sinner, you did not think you had done much wrong, but when I came to your house, you did not do the things for Me that are done in ordinary homes. You did not have a servant wash My feet. But this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to wash My feet with her tears. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman hath not ceased to kiss My feet. Wherefore, I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” “And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.” Why were they forgiven? Because she washed the feet of Jesus? Because she wiped them with her hair? No, not at all. She did these things because she came to Him in repentance and this was an expression of her love for Him.
“And He said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.” Who can forgive sins but God only? “Who is this that forgiveth sins also?” they questioned among themselves. They did not understand that He was God manifested in the flesh. Ignoring them, Jesus turned to the woman and said, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” I think I see her hurrying back to her home, and saying to herself, “I must get everything cleaned up now. I must get those dirty pictures off the wall, and those vile books out of the place!” Perhaps some one saw her and noticed the different expression on her face and the change in her demeanor, and inquired the reason. She would say, the old life was ended and a new life was beginning.
That is what Jesus does for sinners. If you have never trusted Him before, will you trust Him now? Take Him as your Saviour and you will hear Him say to you, “Your sins, which were many, are all forgiven.”
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Luke 7". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16