And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?…
I. First, let us think of THEIR BANKRUPTCY. This was their condition. They were unquestionably in debt. If they could have disputed the creditor's claim, no doubt they would bare done so. If they could have pleaded that they were never indebted, or that they had already paid, no doubt they would have been glad to have done so; but they could not raise a question; their debt could not be denied. Another fact was also clear to them, namely, that they had nothing to pay with. No doubt they had made diligent search; they had turned out their pockets, their cash-boxes, and their lockers, and they had found nothing: they had looked for their household goods, but these had vanished piece by piece. Now there are certain temptations to which all bankrupt sinners are much subject. One of these is to try and forget their spiritual estate altogether. Another temptation to a man in this condition is to make as good a show as he can. A man who is very near bankruptcy is often noticed for the dash he cuts. There are some men of like manners; they have nothing that they can offer unto God, but yet they exhibit a glittering self-righteousness. Another temptation which lurks in the way of a bankrupt sinner is that of making promises of what he will do. And thus do sinners too. Another temptation is, always to ask for more time — as if this was all that was needed. Settle this business before you attend to anything else. Take care that you face it, like an honest man, and not as one who makes the best of a bad story. One thing more: it will be your wisdom give up all attempts to pay, because you have nothing to pay with.
II. Our second head is, THEIR FREE DISCHARGE. "He frankly forgave them both."
1. In this free discharge I admire, first of all, the goodness of the great Creditor. What a gracious heart He had! What kindness He showed! He said, "Poor souls, you can never pay Me, but you need not be cast down because of it, for I freely cancel your debts." Oh, the goodness of it; Oh, the largeness of the heart of God! I was reading of Caesar the other day. He had been at fierce war with Pompey, and at last he conquered him, and when he conquered him he found among the spoil Pompey's private cabinet, in which were contained letters from the various noblemen and senators of Rome who had sided with him. In many a letter there was fatal evidence against the most eminent Romans, but what did Caesar do? He destroyed every document. He would have no knowledge of his enemies, for he freely forgave them and wished to know no more. In this Caesar proved that he was fit to govern the nation. But look at the splendour of God when He puts all our sins into one cabinet, and then destroys the whole.
2. Then, observe the freeness of it. They did not stand there and say, " Oh, good sir, we cannot pay," and plead and beg as for their lives; but He freely said to them, "You cannot pay, but I can forgive."
3. Furthermore, this debt was fully discharged.
4. A very effectual forgiveness too.
5. An eternal discharge.
III. I now beg your very special attention to the last point, and that is THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THIS BANKRUPTCY AND THIS FREE DISCHARGE. It is said, "When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both." There is a time when pardon comes, and that time is when self-sufficiency goes. A sense of spiritual bankruptcy shows that a man has become thoughtful; and this is essential to salvation. Next, when we come to feel our bankruptcy, we then make an honest confession, and to that confession a promise is given — "he that confesseth his sin shall find mercy." The two debtors had owned to their debts, and they had also openly confessed, though it must have gone against the grain a bit, that they could not pay. Under conviction a poor soul sees the reality of sin and of pardon. My dear hearer, you will never believe in the reality of forgiveness till you have felt the reality of sin. I do believe that the Lord will give us our quittance when we have got to our last farthing, and not till then, because only then do we look to the Lord Jesus Christ. Ah, my dear friends, as long as we have anything else to look to, we never will look to Christ. That blessed port into which no ship did ever run in a storm without finding a sure haven is shunned by all your gallant vessels: they will rather put into any port along the coast of self-deceit than make for the harbour which is marked out by the two lighthouses of free grace and dying love. We are emptied to be filled. When we cannot give, God can forgive.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?