Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Imagine a World 8

ImagineaWorld.jpgThe parables of Jesus summon us to the edge of the world in order to imagine a world that can only be called “kingdom.”

One scholar says Luke 7:41-43 is one of the treasured religious possessions of the Western world, while I’d say it was originally Eastern! Still, he’s onto something. It’s brief enough for me to quote in full:
7:41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. 7:42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 7:43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

As always, context shapes intent and impact: A Pharisee is being picked out by Jesus for his unforgiving attitude toward a sinful woman who is showing extravagant love toward Jesus. Simon is cornered by the words of Jesus, but what we need to do something special: instead of pointing our finger at Simon, instead of joining in on the fun and guffaws of those around Simon (who surely must have said, “Ouch!” or something like it), we are to identify with the woman and to take pity on Simon. We are to make sure we are not like Simon. 

Imagine a world, Jesus is saying, where the religious prigs show compassion, mercy and love toward the biggest of sinners. Imagine a world where we are united by our gratitude for forgiveness instead of our triumph over those who have sinned so much.

Imagine a world, then, where the grace of forgiveness overwhelms all sins but that same forgiveness has the grace to transform us into people who, unlike Simon, welcome the sinner and take joy in the sinner’s extravagant love.

[Stories With Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus

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posted August 24, 2010 at 6:43 am

Thanks for this prophetic series of posts.

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Jeff Stewart

posted August 24, 2010 at 8:18 am

“…canceled the debts of both…” – Most assuredly *not* Western.

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posted August 24, 2010 at 8:27 am

“we are to identify with the woman and to take pity on Simon”. I think this is a good reminder. I realize I can be judging the “Simons” in this world when I look at it solely as Jesus “zinging” them, which really points to my “inner” Simon. The Good News is God’s extravagent grace offered to both who need forgiveness – regardless of the size of the debt.

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posted August 24, 2010 at 9:40 am

I just heard this parable as an illustration of “agape” on Sunday. It is a powerful image of divine love which receives both sinner and religious elite. It is also a picture of the crazy politic that we (the ekklesia) are called to embody.

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derek leman

posted August 24, 2010 at 10:21 am

Thanks for sharing these. I think we need to read and reread Jesus’ words and stories of his life. Your reminders are part of the reading and learning for hundreds (or thousands) of people who need to know Jesus’ way and thanks for the work you do.

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posted August 24, 2010 at 10:45 am

Jeff (2), lol! that’s a laugh or cry point you have there!
It always helps me to think about how much of my life has been and continues to be supported by the undeserved kindness of God. It develops love for God in me like little else.
I remember reading Peterson say one time that the pastoral vocation is often seeing the grace of God in people’s lives and helping others to see it as well. Amen. We have all been forgiven huge debts. We all enjoy immense kindness day after day. Too few see it, and I’m amazed at my own tendency to forget or fail to see.

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Stephen Mook

posted August 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm


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Tom Smith

posted August 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Sometimes I’m Simon other times I’m the woman. I’m very thankful for the constant – Jesus.

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