Readings in Luke Continued – No.30
Lk 7:41,42 “Two men 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 cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Within the Christian life there are some things that are so obvious that you almost wonder why we can’t see them. Having been a Pastor for many years I know that the greatest thing that people struggle with is a sense of being unloved, and yet the very heart of the Christian faith is all about being loved by God. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (Jn 3:16) There it is in one of the best known Gospel verses, and that is reflected in the New Testament Gospels and letters again and again, yet it seems that in the Christian life there is often uncertainty and doubt and wonderings about whether ‘God loves me’. One of my favourite verses is Paul’s “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) because this is Paul’s rhetorical question that might be put, “With God for us, who can be against us?” God is FOR us! Everything about His activity in the Bible shows that, God is FOR ME. So why don’t we realise this? I suspect the answer is found in this little story that Jesus told Simon the Pharisee.
Remember, from the previous meditation, Simon had been looking down on this woman who was a sinner and who had come and wept over Jesus and then anointed his feet with perfume. Jesus presents this little scenario to make a point to Simon. It’s a very simple and obvious scene and Simon doesn’t have a problem seeing it: “Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.” (v.43) In fact you would have to be a bit dense not to see it.
Two debtors, one with a big debt and one with a little debt. When the debts are cancelled who is the more grateful? Obvious isn’t it? So why do we still feel unloved? The answer has got to be, surely, that we don’t appreciate the wonder of what has happened to us, the greatness of that for which we have been forgiven. If we did, then we would surely realise how much we have been loved?
Is it possible that we think our sin, and our old sinful life wasn’t very bad? Do we rationalize it and say, “Well I wasn’t a very bad person!” Yet somehow we came to a crisis and came to Christ in repentance and were ‘born again’. Somehow we realised that where we were wasn’t good and we needed God’s help and forgiveness, but perhaps we’ve never really realised the fullness of our plight. Can we consider that for a few minutes, so that perhaps we might become like the grateful, forgiven debtors – aware of how much has been done for us. Let’s remind ourselves of some basics.
We were sinners – it was part of our every-moment life, we couldn’t escape it. Our tendency was self-centredness and godlessness, and we constantly fell short of God’s standards (Rom 3:23). Moreover we were under the dominion of Satan, in the dominion of darkness (1 Jn 5:19, Col 1:13) and nothing we could do of ourselves could get us out of that. We were separated from God, (Eph 4:18) objects of God’s wrath (Eph 2:3), and sin working in us was bringing death (Rom 6:23). Indeed it is clear from Jesus’ teaching that our outcome was going to be hell, total separation from God in eternity. To summarise, we were lost, separated from God, bound in Sin, driven by Satan and condemned for eternity. THAT was our state, and that was the ‘debt’ that Jesus released us from.
But if it was left to the negative side, that would have been enough surely to stir gratefulness and love within us, but that is only one side of it. It isn’t that we have been merely forgiven our ‘debt, once the debt has been forgiven, we have received from God an incredible ‘bank account’ that provides for the rest of our lives. We have been forgiven and cleansed of our sin, the power of sin and of Satan has been broken, we have been adopted by God so that we can call ourselves children of God (1 Jn 3;1,2), and He has placed His Holy Spirit within us to be our source of contact with Him, that brings guidance, help, direction, wisdom, and assurance. But then we find that God has a purpose for our lives (Eph 2:10 ) and we now have received eternal life and have a place with Him in eternity as His children.
Now maybe you have never taken in the truths of these last two paragraphs and if that is so then I recommend you read and reread and take in the truths that are there and even ask the Lord to help those truths impact your heart so that you are never the same again! When we consider what we have been FREED FROM (our past lives and the judgement that hung over them) and FREED TO (our glorious eternity that starts now with Him) we can never say again, “I’m not sure if God loves me, because past, present and future have all been put right for us by what Jesus did on the Cross, by dying in our place to make us right with God. We are now inheritors, receivers of all the good Jesus has achieved.
When we truly receive and understand these things our lives will be transformed, and part of that transformation will be how we view other people. No more will we view others through the eyes of Simon the Pharisee, criticising and condemning, but realising that we had been just like them in reality (don’t be deceived by thinking that “my sins weren’t as bad as theirs” – all sins are the same in eternal effect as far as God is concerned!) we can have compassion and understanding and be ready to love and bring forgiveness. This is life-changing stuff, and if it isn’t, we just haven’t ‘seen it’. Perhaps we saw it in the past and have grown to take it for granted. If that is so, ask the Lord to bring the truth and the reality of these things to you afresh. When He has done that, you will live a life of gratefulness, thankfulness – and compassion. Be blessed!