NOTHING TO PAY
A RELIGIOUS CHURCH MEMBER AND A WOMAN IN SIN
Before we study the very interesting story of the two persons who visited one day in the home of a self-righteous religious church member whose name was Simon, let us read what the Lord Jesus said to a group of respectable, religious sinners who belonged to Simon’s class.
“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him; and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”
Perhaps we have all observed how the Lord Jesus Christ never said an unkind word to any truly penitent sinner while He was on earth. “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17. Truly Jesus was the friend of publicans and sinners. But He never spared the hypocritical self-righteous man. It was a company of such men, with their rulers, who had the Son of God nailed to the tree. Present day churches and synagogues abound with self-righteous men and women, with both hypocrites and spiritual bankrupts. Publicans, harlots and sinners are still hearing the truth of God: that “where sin abounds grace doth much more abound,” and in spite of all of the religious obstacles and hindrances, and the opposition and inconsistencies of self-righteous church leaders and the preaching of the false prophets in the pulpits, with their pseudo-Christ and perverted gospel, some of them are being saved. And occasionally, here and there, some of the Simon’s among the church officials are being saved; and once in a great while a modernist preacher hears God’s true message of grace and is saved.
Now for the very interesting story of Simon, the Pharisee, the woman of sin, and the Lord Jesus recorded in 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 wine 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 spoke 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 that he, to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, Thou halt rightly judged. And He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gayest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gayest 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 no 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:
We note the woman’s name is not given. After all, that is not so important inasmuch as there have been millions just like her down through the ages. And today there are still millions just like her, separated by sin from all loved ones, cut off from all decent society, disgraced and wrecked beyond repair by any human power. Some of them seem to be hardened beyond any consciousness of right or wrong. Perhaps they have heard somewhere along the line this wonder message from God:
Isaiah 1:18.“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord„ though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
For such a poor, ruined creature, for such a pitiable social outcast, for the vilest harlot this story should be read with more than passing interest. It is a wonderful story of grace. And it should also melt the heart of the self-righteous, self-centered, religious church member. But Alas! Their hearts are so filled with pride that their hearts are just as much hardened against Christ and God’s grace message as are the hearts of the publicans and harlots. “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:20-23.
We could find many sermons in this very interesting account of the visit in Simon’s home. It is interesting to contrast the attitude of the religious man toward the poor sinful woman with that of the One Who was called the Friend of publicans and sinners. There is not the slightest suggestion that the woman was for a moment conscious of the presence of the Pharisee until the Lord directed His messages to him. She was too much occupied with the Saviour.
Note the Lord’s statement: (in Luke 7:41), “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the, other fifty:” Here God is the Creditor. The sinful woman owed five hundred pence and the religious Pharisee owed fifty pence. It seems that the Lord was suggesting that the woman was ten times ‘as sinful as the man. But it is quite doubtful if the Lord actually believed that; for He well knew the great sin of self-righteousness and religious pride in Simon’s heart. It is also quite doubtful if Simon felt that he owed even the fifty pence. Self-righteous religious people generally keep all their debts paid, in their own estimation. Some of them think God is indebted to them for being so religiously good. On the other hand, the sinful woman would not have been offended if the Lord had fixed her indebtedness at five million pence; but rather would have agreed with Him. Simon undoubtedly would have fixed it even higher than that figure. The poor sinful woman knew that she was a bankrupt, so far as her Divine Creditor was concerned; that she had “nothing to pay”. She was seeking a gracious Saviour and she found the One Who was able to cancel her obligation. She found Him not only abundantly able, but altogether willing.
The Lord Jesus read Simon’s heart. There was no oral confession from the Pharisee. How his religious pride must have been wounded when the Lord included him with the woman, when He said, “they had nothing to pay”. It perhaps had never occurred to Simon that he had “nothing to pay”, that he too was a spiritual bankrupt. Not for one moment was he asking for cancellation of indebtedness or seeking for any grace. There are multitudes of religious people today who are trying to pay God with their religious deeds instead of accepting God’s grace. Not for one moment would they say with Paul, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.” Romans 7:18.
Note these words of Christ in the story: “He frankly forgave them both”. (Luke 7:42) Is the Lord actually teaching that no matter how much or how long a man or woman has sinned against Him that He will frankly forgive them all, if they come as did this sinful woman? Surely, if He does not forgive ALL, but just reduces the indebtedness, that will not help one whit. God does not take away sin on the installment plan. Hear the good news: “And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39.
The Lord was telling Simon and the sinful woman, as well as you and me, the truth of Isaiah 1:18 and Romans 5:20: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” “Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”
Let us again note this gracious truth as it is recorded in Colossians 2:13 and in Hebrews 10:17-19: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. Colossians 2:13. “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Hebrews 10:17-19.
Christ talked to Simon; but He looked at the woman. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh into the heart. “But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, And needeth not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” John 2:24-25. Just think of what Christ saw in that sinful woman’s heart and life! Just think of what He has seen in mine and yours! Did Christ condemn that poor penitent sinner? “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17.
What did Christ do,? He said first, “her sins, which are many, are forgiven”. And then, to her, He said, “here is a receipt for the five hundred pence that you owe.” “Thy sins are forgiven.” “Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.” Christ did not ask the woman how many times she had sinned, how many years she had been sinning, or how many different kinds of sins she had committed. He spoke of her sins as many; but they were forgiven. No matter how many sins any sinner has committed, the lord has full pardon and justification for the penitent who will trust Him To a penitent adulterous woman caught in her sin, Christ said, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more”. John 8:11. To the sinful woman of our story He said, “thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.”
Think of the marvelous transformation! Such infinite grace and Divine power! One moment she was a poor, condemned, guilty, spiritual bankrupt, “with nothing to pay”, and the next moment everything blotted out and the account settled. The woman left with pardon and peace instead of an accusing, defiled conscience! Such is the transforming work of the wonderful gospel of the grace of God!
Have you believed this gospel? Have you received forgiveness through Christ the Redeemer?
We may be sure that the conduct of that woman was entirely different after Christ spoke pardon and peace to her soul. Good behaviour, acceptable to our Heavenly Father, is always the fruit of salvation and not a factor in salvation. We can never be saved “by good works”; but we are saved “unto good works”. Ephesians 2:10.
“They that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:8. Christ have Himself for us, “that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14.
“Nothing to pay” can be interpreted two ways. Every member of the human race is a spiritual bankrupt in Adam and has nothing to pay for eternal life. But it is also true that nothing needs to be paid, because Christ has already paid in full.
“Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” Romans 4:8.
That blessed or happy man is the man who has been by faith to Calvary and had his guilty soul washed by the blood of the spotless Lamb of God