Luke 7:36-50: 11 Lessons from the Parable of The Two Debtors

Are you looking for the best lessons we can learn from Luke 7:36-50, the Two Debtors parable? If yes, then you came to the right place. In this post, let us go deeper into what the parable of the two debtors means and what it can teach us today.

The parable of the two debtors is mentioned in Luke 7:41-43. However, to get a better context, you need to read Luke 7:36-50.

It is easy to simply read through this story and not get the deep meaning and insights from it. Thus, it is a must that we stop for a while and take a look at the parable of the two debtors.

In this post, you will learn more about the following:

Luke 7:36-50: 11 Lessons from the Parable of The Two Debtors
Luke 7:36-50: 11 Lessons from the Parable of The Two Debtors

Luke 7:36-50: the parable of the two debtors verses

To get a better picture of the parable, let us read Luke 7:36-50:

36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”

And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

The parable of the two debtors summary

The parable of the two debtors is found in Luke 7:41-43. The story was given by Jesus Christ (properly known as Yahshua the Messiah) during his meal at the house of Simon the Pharisee.

Lessons from the Parable of The Two Debtors
Lessons from the Parable of The Two Debtors

The story begins when a Pharisee, whose name is Simon, invited Jesus to eat with him in his house. While Christ sat down to eat, a woman from the same city approached Him with an alabaster flask of fragrant oil. The woman was known to be a sinner in their place.

The woman then started weeping. She approached Yahshua and washed His feet with tears. Then she wiped her tears with her hair. She then kissed the feet of Christ and anointed His feet with the fragrant oil she was carrying.

Simon the Pharisee then spoke to himself saying that if Jesus was indeed a prophet, He wouldn’t let this woman, popularly known as a sinner, touch him.

This is where Christ told the parable of the two debtors.

The parable of the two debtors is about two individuals who have a debt to pay. The first person owed five hundred denarii while the other owed fifty denarii.

Both of the two debtors were unable to pay their debts. Thankfully, their creditor forgave them of their debts and freed them from the obligation to pay him back.

After giving the parable, Christ posed the question to Simon, between the two debtors, who will love the creditor more. Simon correctly answered that it is the one who has the bigger debt.

Christ confirmed that Simon gave the correct answer. From there, the Messiah explained to Simon how the woman loved Him so much. He showed how the woman was different in terms of how Simon and the woman treated Him.

At the end of the story, Christ forgave the woman’s sins. This left the people around Him to ask what type of man He is that He can even forgive sins.

Christ then gave the woman a final message that would forever change her life.

Comparison of the Gospel narrative

When you read the four gospels, you will find stories similar to Luke’s account in Matthew, Mark, and John.

Matthew account 

Luke 7:36-50 seems to be similar to what we can read in Matthew 26:6-13:

6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Mark’s account

In mark 14:3-9, we read:

3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

John’s account

Also, in John 12:1-8:

1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

Reading through all these verses can be dizzying. So, I recommend you get yourself a “harmony of the Gospels” book. For example, Gospels Side by Side is a great book for you to easily compare the Gospel narratives.

For now, let me give you a general overview of the similarities and differences of the Gospels regarding the story of the anointing of Christ.

All Gospels, except Luke, talk about the story of the woman who anointed Christ’s feet during the “passion week.” This means that the story happened during the final events leading to Christ’s arrest and eventual execution.

Luke didn’t mention that the anointing of Christ was part of His inevitable burial. In Luke and John, the woman is said to have anointed Christ’s feet. However, in Matthew and Mark, the story said that the woman anointed Christ’s head.

There are also other differences to know more about. For example, the place. Luke didn’t mention in which city the story happened but only which house. In John, the story happened in Bethany and Lazarus, Martha, and Mary was there and Mary was mentioned to be the woman who anointed Christ. 

In Mathew and Mark, the woman was unnamed and the story happened in the house of Simon the leper, which seems to be a mistranslation. Other sources, it should be Simon the potter.

In Matthew, Mark, and John, there was a complaint that the expensive oil should have been sold and given to the poor.

Overall, Matthew, Mark, and John could be talking about the same story. Luke couldn’t possibly describe Mary as a known sinner.

Who is the woman in Luke 7:36-50?

When it comes to Luke 7:36-50, a lot of discussions revolved around the woman’s identity. Who is this woman? What was her life background? Where did she come from?

If you read Luke 7:36-50, the Gospel writer doesn’t specify who this woman was. However, one thing we can be sure of is that this woman was a known sinner in an unspecified city in Galilee.

Some Bible scholars believe that this woman was a prostitute. This can be a possibility, but we really can’t tell for sure. Some people, especially Catholics, assume that this woman was Mary Magdalene. However, this can’t be supported by the Scripture.

Now that we have discussed the background of the story surrounding the Parable of the Two Debts, it is time for us to discover its many lessons. 

Best Lessons from the Parable of The Two Debtors
Best Lessons from the Parable of The Two Debtors

Lesson no. 1: Jesus confirms that He is a prophet 

For many of us, when we think of Jesus or Yahshua, we rarely equate Him to a prophet. However, we see in the Gospels how Yahshua is called and considered a prophet.

Here are some examples:

Matthew 21:11

11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” 

Luke 7:16

16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” 

John 4:19

19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.”

John 6:14 

14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 

John 7:40-41

40 Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” 

This is an important aspect of the story we are talking about today. Simon questioned the integrity and reputation of Christ when he said to himself in Luke 7:39:

“This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

As a Prophet, Christ was able to discern and read the heart and mind of Simon. This led to the parable of the two debtors.

Lesson no. 2: Christ is more than just a prophet

Now, here’s where Christ leveled up His identity. Instead of simply just another prophet, He became a God by demonstrating His power to forgive sins (Luke 7:47-48).

No one can forgive sins, but God, and since Christ forgave the sin of the woman, it only confirms that Christ is not a mere man and prophet, but He is indeed the Messiah, a God in flesh.

Lesson no. 3: We are all debtors because of sin

We read in the parable of the two debtors the amount of their debt in Luke 7:41:

41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.”

According to scholars, one denarius is equivalent to one day’s wage of a common worker. So, if you think of it, the first debtor owed more than a year’s wage while the other owed more than a month’s wage.

Even if the second debtor has fewer debts, both of them are not able to pay back the money they owed. 

In the ancient world, indebtedness was a huge social problem that has plagued not just the poor but even the rich. 

That’s why, when the temple was taken over during the revolt against Rome, a lot of people destroyed the record of debt.

So, by giving the parable of the two debtors, the audience of Jesus can easily relate to the magnitude of the problem of the two debtors. 

It was a huge burden on their finances. People can easily understand how it feels to live in debt and the overwhelming feeling of relief once you’re free of debt.

In short, the parable of the two debtors is a great way to get people’s attention and better understand the point Christ was making.

In effect, we are all debtors. Because of our sins, we have created in us a spiritual debt, so great that we can’t pay it back.

Sin is a debt and we, as sinners, are debtors. When we break God’s commandments, we accumulate debt that demands the penalty of death.

By ourselves, we can’t get out of this debt made by sin. It takes God’s goodness, mercy, and grace for us to be saved from our debt.

Whether our debt is great or small, it is more than we can pay. We don’t have the ability to pay off our debt. That’s why we need God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Lesson no. 4: Christ lifts the status of women

During the first century, women were seen as inferior to men. They are considered to be second-class. Because of this, it is not difficult to see how many people look down on women, especially sinners. 

If it is true that the woman here was a prostitute, that would make it even worse for her to appear before Christ.

For a few moments, try to imagine yourself being present in the story when the woman was washing Christ’s feet.

Here was a woman who let her hair down in public. During Christ’s time, this was considered shameful and seductive, something that no moral and respectable woman would do. 

Aside from the hair, the woman also repeatedly kissed Christ’s feet. If it weren’t for her tears, people around her would have thought that she was seducing Jesus.

So, you can just understand Simon’s reaction and those who were present at that time.

With all the display of affection, what was the response of Christ?

His response was unexpected, at least for Christ’s antagonists. 

For them, they thought that the right response was to chasten the woman, stop her from washing Christ’s feet, and even condemn the woman.

Well, not for Christ.

Yahshua showed what most men in His time are afraid to do — that is to uphold the honor of women. 

Christ showed the men of His time the proper way of treating women with respect and dignity.

Jesus showed that women have an equal opportunity to be part of God’s kingdom just like men. 

For Christ, we are all the children of God when we follow Him, whether you are a man or woman.

Lesson no. 5: No matter how big your sin is, you can still be forgiven

I believe one of the most important lessons we can learn from this parable is that no matter how sinful your past is, you can still come before the Throne of God and ask for forgiveness.

The two debtors have different amounts of debt. The amount of debt didn’t stop the moneylender from forgiving both of them. For the moneylender, he didn’t care about the money. What he cared about the most is the attitude of repentance and willingness to be forgiven.

Here’s one thing that we must always remember:

There’s no sin so great that God can’t forgive.

Through the sacrifice made by Christ, we have been given the chance to come boldly to God and ask for forgiveness.

When we sincerely and genuinely ask for God’s forgiveness and we do our best to change, then the Most High will forgive us.

Don’t ever believe the lies that Satan whispers in your ears that you can’t be forgiven. That’s one of his satanic deceptions.

God is more than willing to forgive our sins and start a closer relationship with us.

Lesson no. 6: Jesus is the Discerner of the heart

No one can hide their thoughts and feelings from Christ. In Matthew 9:4, we read how Christ was able to know the thoughts of the scribes.

Now, in Luke 7:36-50, we see how Christ was able to discern the heart of Simon, the Pharisee. Christ knew the thoughts of Simon, which prompted the giving of the parable of the two debtors.

This should both encourage and frighten us. 

Encourage us because God and His Son know our innermost thoughts. If there are Beings who can truly understand us, it is Them. This should comfort us. If there’s no one who can understand us, we can turn to God and have the full confidence that they know what we are going through, what we are feeling, and what our hearts desire.

Now, this should also frighten us because there’s no thought of ours that will escape God’s attention. This means that if our thoughts are evil, we will receive judgment for that. We can’t hide anything from God.

Lesson no. 7: The more we are forgiven, the more we should love

It is quite interesting to note the main point of the parable of the two debtors.

Christ was pointing out that the one who was forgiven more will and should love God more.

Sadly, this is not always the case. This is what we have seen in Simon.

See what Christ said to Simon in Luke 7:44-46:

“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.

There’s a stark contrast between Simon and the sinful woman.

There are debtors when after being forgiven of their debt, would not be grateful, Instead, they become bitter in their hearts. 

Instead of saying thank you, they can’t say good words for the creditor who forgave them. Instead of being grateful, they complain. 

They would rather think of how they become indebted, focus on the difficulty they went through, and even justify that it wasn’t their fault they became indebted.

On the other hand, the first debtor who was forgiven more chose to show a humble heart. This is what the sinful woman did. She was humble enough to seek forgiveness, repent, and change her sinful ways.

Because she was forgiven more, her response was to love more. 

In general, the bigger the forgiven debt, the bigger the joy.

Imagine, if you are forgiven for a debt of $100 versus you are forgiven for a debt of $100,000. Which situation do you think would make you happier when you are forgiven? Naturally, the one with the bigger debt.

As an act of gratitude, we must respond with love since we have been shown love. We must respond with mercy because we are shown mercy. We must respond with grace because we have been shown grace.

Lesson no. 8: Humility is required for proper repentance

It is impossible to repent of our sin without humility. This is proven by the sinful woman.

If the woman is filled with pride, it is quite impossible for her to repent. That’s why we must always be humble, knowing how helpless we are without God’s grace.

A humble person is able to stoop down and do even the lowest of all jobs, just to serve God. 

A proud person finds it difficult to follow God. The Almighty needs to humble a person before He can be part of His Church.

So, the next time you ask for God’s forgiveness, be sure that you are filled with humility.

Lesson no. 9: Faith is needed for proper repentance

At the end of the discourse of the woman and Christ, we read this in Luke 7:50:

“Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Faith is believing that when God says we are forgiven, we are truly forgiven. We must stop condemning ourselves, but we must trust God that He has already given us freedom from the penalty of sin.

Notice, our faith must also lead to peace

Faith is so powerful that it produces various positive fruits in us. When we are faithful, we are not simply forgiven, but also we can live and go on with our lives with peace.

Lesson no. 10: We must see sinners as people who need forgiveness

When Christ was talking to Simon, there was something we must focus on. He said in Luke 7:44:

“Do you see this woman?”

For many people in the time of Christ, when they see the woman, they can only see her sins. They don’t see a broken human being who needs help, redemption, and forgiveness.

This is the reason that they found it too hard to help the woman. Instead of seeing her as a sister who needed help, they would condemn, despise, and ridicule her.

Even Simon, the Pharisee, thought that if he was in the situation of Christ, he should have chased away the sinful woman.

When people only see sins, reputation, and status, that’s when Christ sees the person.

Lesson no. 11: We are forgiven through grace

The cancellation of our debt due to sin is brought about because of grace. Grace is the unmerited favor that we receive from God.

It is not because of what we did that we receive grace and forgiveness, but rather it is the mercy and love of Yahweh and His Son, Yahshua.

There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s forgiveness. There’s nothing we can do to make up for the past sins that we have committed and most certainly for the sins we will commit in the future.

For this reason, because of God’s grace and goodness, the only logical response is for us to love Him back. We must stop in our sinful ways and start living a life pleasing to God.

God is graceful and is always ready to forgive. However, we must also realize that God is the God of justice and will not tolerate willful sinning.

Let’s start appreciating God’s grace by loving Him and others more than how much we have loved before.

Learn the lessons from the Parable of the Two Debtors

There’s no doubt: the parable of the two debtors teaches us numerous lessons that we can apply in our lives. 

With this parable, I hope and pray that you and I would understand better the mercy, goodness, and grace of God. Most importantly, learn how we must respond now that we have been forgiven of our sins.

Stories with Intent is a great book if you want to learn more about the parables of Christ.
Stories with Intent is a great book if you want to learn more about the parables of Christ.

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