The Tale of Two Debtors




By Kevin W. Bounds


  1. A Jewish man stepped in and watched a part of [Adolf] Eichmann’s trial and burst into tears. Some next to him said, “Your anger must be unbearable.” He said, “No, it isn’t anger. The longer I sit here, the more I realize I have a heart like his.”[1]
  2. We ALL need forgiveness for our depravity. Mark Twain quipped, “We are all like the moon. We have a dark side we don’t want anybody to see.”[2] How true it is! However, some refuse to see their own Charles Swindoll records,

Webster says depraved means, “marked by corruption or evil, perverted, crooked.” It’s important that you understand this is an internal disease; you can’t detect it from the outside. Most folks don’t look depraved. Most of us do a masterful job of covering it up. But never doubt that underneath, deep down inside, there is this disease that eats away at us and pollutes our thoughts and our words (intellect), our relationships (emotions), and our actions (will). [3] 

  1. In Luke 7:36-50, we are given a tale of two debtors which illustrates the need we ALL have for mercy and grace. This sermon will examine the debtors, the debt, and the dispensation in the parable spoken by Jesus. It is important that a parable lays alongside , in this case, it is the story that is unfolding at the banquet of the Pharisee.


  1. There has been much debate concerning how many times Jesus was anointed. There are four records in the Gospels (Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Lk 7:36-50; Jn 12:1-8). My opinion is Luke’s account is an earlier anointing of Jesus. There were three anointing events (Matthew and Mark being the same event). Warren Wiersbe writes, “Do not confuse this event with a similar one involving Mary of Bethany (John 12:1-8), and do not identify this woman with Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2) as many continue to do.”[4]


The Debtors [41]

“A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii and the other fifty.”

The Pharisee

  1. What can we know about this person from this text? The first thing is that his name was Simon (40).
  2. Although he was a Pharisee, it is possible he invited Jesus to his home because he was curious about Him. This would explain the internal turmoil he was having about Jesus allowing this woman to touch Him (39).
  3. He was blind to his sinfulness, the woman’s worth as a human, and who Jesus was!
    1. A perfect illustration of this man’s attitude can be seen in Luke 18:9-14. [CITE]
    2. Simon the Pharisee was the perfect example of what Jesus spoke of near the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:1-5). [TURN]
  4. Wiersbe writes, “The parable does not deal with the amount of sin in a person’s life but the awareness of that sin in his heart.”[5]
    1. How much does it take to be in debt? Or sinner?
    2. Simon had a sin of the spirit, and the woman had a sin of the flesh. The Apostle Paul writes, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (KJV 2 Cor 7:1).
  5. We ALL need forgiveness!


The Woman

  1. Although many have argued that this woman was a prostitute, it cannot be confirmed by this passage. However, it is a good speculation.
  2. Why did this woman approach Jesus? If you look at a harmony of the Gospels, right before this moment, Jesus declared

“[28]  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [29]  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. [30]  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (KJV Matt 11:28-30).

  1. It is evident in this passage that whatever her past, she was convicted of it. However, it is a thought that if she were a “working woman,” her precious gift was more than likely purchased with her profits. Even her very best offering was tainted. All she could give Jesus was the best of her sinful past.


The Debt [42]

“When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both.

So which of them will love him more?”

  1. We ALL need to be graciously forgiven!
  2. It is noteworthy that forgiveness comes before the love. The writer of First John states, “We love, because He first loved us” (NASB 1 Jn 4:19).
  3. The Apostle Paul explains this in Ephesians 2:1-10. [TURN]


The Dispensation of Grace [48-50]

 “And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

  1. What right did Jesus have to declare her forgiven? This was not the first time Jesus has made such a statement (see Luke 5:21).
  2. What saved this woman; her faith or works? [READ VERSES 44-48] One Bible scholar writes, “We are not saved by faith plus works; we are saved by a faith that leads to works.”[6]
    1. Paul writes,

[4]  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, [5]  He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, [6]  whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, [7]  so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (NASB Tit 3:4-7).

  1. How did this woman know her faith saved her? God told her! He tells us too!
    1. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18 (NASB)
    2. [38] “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, [39]  and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39 (NASB)



  1. We ALL need forgiveness!
  2. Richard Hoefler’s book Will Daylight Come? Includes a homey illustration of how sin enslaves and forgiveness frees.

A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target.

As he came back to Grandma’s backyard, he spied her pet duck. On impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead.

The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

            After lunch that day, Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.”

But Sally said, “Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn’t you Johnny?” And she whispered to him, “Remember the duck!” So Johnny did the dishes.

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing Grandma said, “I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally smiled and said, “That’s all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it.” Again, she whispered, “Remember the duck.” Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, finally he couldn’t stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he’d killed the duck.

“I know, Johnny,” she said, giving a hug. “I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”



[1] Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson,1998), 155.

[2] Ibid., 155.

[3] Ibid., 156.

[4] Warren Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2007), 160.

[5] Ibid., 160.

[6] Ibid.,160.



Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Nashville, TN. 1998.


Wiersbe, Warren. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament. Colorado Springs, CO. David C. Cook. 2007.