LUKE 7:36-50 FORGIVEN!
A Jewish leader invited Jesus to dinner in his house. Jewish hosts usually welcomed their guests with a kiss of greeting, water for their feet, and oil for their head. At a big dinner like this, Jewish hosts often allowed poor people to come in for food. They stayed quietly off to the side. During this dinner, a sinful womana came into the house.
What do you think the religious leader did to welcome Jesus? What do you think he did to welcome this woman? What do you do to welcome guests?
36 Now one of the Pharisees b invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.c 37 When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, d 38 and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet,e he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”“Tell me, Teacher,” he said. 41 “Two men 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 canceled the debts of both.f Now which of them will love him more?”43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.“ “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 – for she loved much.g But he who 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.” (Bible Gateway Version)
Vocabulary and Background Notes
a. There were signs that she was a prostitute: she lived a sinful life (37), and her hair was down (38).
b. The Pharisees were a Jewish group that thought a person could be right with God by keeping the Law exactly. They made up extra rules just to make sure they knew what to do. See TOOLS: WHO’S WHO, page 56.
c. For dinner parties, Jewish people would recline on couches or mats with their feet out to the side.
d. Perfume was an expensive gift. Alabaster was the usual material for a perfume jar.
e. Prophets faithfully delivered messages from God. Sin is not just what criminals do; it is disobeying or dishonoring God with our thought or action.
f. A Roman denarius was worth one day’s work. Canceling the debts meant they owed nothing. They could have gone to prison instead.
g. Or “…the great love she has shown proves that her many sins have been forgiven.” (Good News Bible)
1. Read the Bible text together including the footnotes.
2. Take turns describing the scene (WHO-WHAT-WHEN-WHERE).
3. Tell the story to each other. (WHAT IS HAPPENING?)
4. Read it again, to yourself this time. Pay attention to the people, especially Jesus. What are they like? How do they interact with each other? Underline information and talk about it.
5. Did anything surprise you as you read? Take turns asking questions about the story. Not all the questions need answers.
1. Why do you think this woman was crying?
2. Why do you think Jesus allowed her to do what she did?
3. Jesus compared forgiveness with the canceling of debt. How are these ideas related? Give examples from your own lives.
4. In Jesus’ story, which comes first, love or forgiveness? How does this help to explain the woman’s actions?
5. Jesus announced, “Your sins are forgiven.” Why was this so surprising? Discuss the opinion of the “other guests” and your own.
Make It Personal
1. Do you see yourself in any of these characters? (Have you ever had similar attitudes or experiences?)
2. Can you relate this situation to one today? What lessons are there in this text for our lives?
3. What have you learned about Jesus from this text?
Take It Home
When Jesus forgave this woman, he canceled her debt and her painful past. He gave her honor and sent her out to live in peace. Imagine yourself coming to Jesus. He knows what you are thinking and everything about your past. What would you say to him? What would you want him to say to you?
“Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:50