EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
7:36-50 None can truly perceive how precious Christ is, and the glory of the gospel, except the broken-hearted. But while they feel they cannot enough express self-abhorrence on account of sin, and admiration of his mercy, the self-sufficient will be disgusted, because the gospel encourages such repenting sinners. The Pharisee, instead of rejoicing in the tokens of the woman's repentance, confined his thoughts to her former bad character. But without free forgiveness none of us can escape the wrath to come; this our gracious Saviour has purchased with his blood, that he may freely bestow it on every one that believes in him. Christ, by a parable, forced Simon to acknowledge that the greater sinner this woman had been, the greater love she ought to show to Him when her sins were pardoned. Learn here, that sin is a debt; and all are sinners, are debtors to Almighty God. Some sinners are greater debtors; but whether our debt be more or less, it is more than we are able to pay. God is ready to forgive; and his Son having purchased pardon for those who believe in him, his gospel promises it to them, and his Spirit seals it to repenting sinners, and gives them the comfort. Let us keep far from the proud spirit of the Pharisee, simply depending upon and rejoicing in Christ alone, and so be prepared to obey him more zealously, and more strongly to recommend him unto all around us. The more we express our sorrow for sin, and our love to Christ, the clearer evidence we have of the forgiveness of our sins. What a wonderful change does grace make upon a sinner's heart and life, as well as upon his state before God, by the full remission of all his sins through faith in the Lord Jesus!
Frankly forgave - Freely forgave, or forgave entirely without any compensation. This is not designed to express anything about the way in which God forgives sinners. He forgives - forgives freely, but it is in connection with the "atonement" made by the Lord Jesus. If it was a mere "debt" which we owed to God, he might forgive, as this creditor did, without an equivalent. But it is "crime" which he forgives. He pardons as a moral governor. A parent might forgive a "debt" without any equivalent; but he cannot pardon an offending child without regarding his own "character" as a parent, the "truth" of his threatenings, the good order of his house, and the maintenance of his authority. So our sins against God, though they are called "debts," are called so "figuratively." It is not an affair of "money," and God cannot forgive us without maintaining his word, the honor of his government, and law - in other words, without an "atonement." It is clear that by the creditor here our Saviour meant to designate God, and by the "debtors," sinners and the woman present. Simon, whose life had been comparatively upright, was denoted by the one that owed "fifty" pence; the woman, who had been an open and shameless sinner, was represented by the one that owed "five hundred." Yet "neither" could pay. Both must be forgiven or perish. So, however much difference there is among people, "all" need the pardoning mercy of God, and "all," without that, must perish.
40-43. Like Nathan with David, our Lord conceals His home thrust under the veil of a parable, and makes His host himself pronounce upon the case. The two debtors are the woman and Simon; the criminality of the one was ten times that of the other (in the proportion of "five hundred" to "fifty"); but both being equally insolvent, both are with equal frankness forgiven; and Simon is made to own that the greatest debtor to forgiving mercy will cling to her Divine Benefactor with the deepest gratitude. Does our Lord then admit that Simon was a forgiving man? Let us see. See Poole on "Luke 7:40"
And when they had nothing to pay,.... Neither the lesser nor greater debtor; for though not alike in debt, yet both insolvent: man has run out his whole stock, which the God of nature gave him, in his original creation and primitive state; and is become a bankrupt and a beggar, is poor, wretched, and miserable; he has no money, he has nothing to offer for a composition, much less for payment; he has no righteousness, and if he had, it would be nothing to pay with; since that itself, even in perfection, is due to God, and cannot discharge a former debt: sin being committed against an infinite being, is in some sense an infinite debt, and requires an infinite satisfaction, which a finite creature can never give; and he is therefore liable to a prison, and that for ever: but behold the wonderful grace of God, the creditor!
he frankly forgave them both: their whole debts, without regard to any merits of theirs, which they could not have, or any motives in them, or any conditions to be performed by them, but purely of his sovereign will, free grace, and rich mercy, though not without regard to the satisfaction of his Son; which by no means hinders the frankness of the pardon, or obscures the grace of it, but increases and illustrates it; seeing this satisfaction is of God's own finding out, providing, and accepting; and is at his own expense, and without money and price, to the debtors:
tell me therefore, which of them will love him most; or "ought to love him most", as the Ethiopic version. The Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, leave out the first part of this clause, "tell me". And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?