The Difference Between a 50 Sinner and a 500 Sinner

3-circles41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:41-50, ESV).

In this parable, Jesus is the moneylender, and the debtors are metaphors for sinners. A denarius equivalent of one day’s working wage for the common man. So, one owed about 15 month wages and another owed just over a month-and-a-half’s worth.

In this parable, the woman was a 500 sinner, Simon a 50 sinner.  Jesus does not say that Simon’s sins were less, he is saying that the woman understood the gravity of her sin-debtedness, and Simon did not.  Therefore, the woman loved Jesus more than Simon did because (1) she saw the weight of her sin, and (2) she saw the grace of the Savior.

Kent Hughes in his commentary talks about how many try to submit the currency of our own making in order to gain favor with God:

  • Integrity: “God, I work with compulsive liars. The only honest man I know is myself. Surely I’m acceptable.”
  • Domestic currency: “In this X-rated world, my life is a wholesome G. I’m faithful to my wife. I love her and my children. I am a good husband, father, and son. I reckon that’s all I need.
  • Social currency: “I’m truly color-blind. My money (lots of it!) goes to the needy. I volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. I really do care. The world needs more people like me, and so does heaven.”
  • Church currency: “I live at the church. I’m there everytime the door is opened. I’m on 15 teams. My goodness will surely be accepted.”

The moral to this parable is that we are all broke and in a massive amount of debt that we cannot repay.  The woman realized that she could never pay what she owed—so God paid it all through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus.  Simon saw himself in comparison to other people and didn’t think Christ had to work that hard to pay for his sins. He was in ministry, went to seminary, and considered the expert.

Yet Christ tells us that we are broke, something Simon missed.

Where are we in this story? Do we see our great sin but God’s greater grace? Or do we believe that Christ’s death was only for the bigtime bad people?

Whether you are a 500 sinner or a 50 sinner depends on how you see your sin.  If you see it as no big deal, you’re a 50 sinner and your love for Christ will be smaller.  But if you are a 500 sinner, and see His grace? Nothing can contain the immensity of your love for Jesus.

Jesus is enough to rescue you and pay your debt.


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