This Bible study focuses on a passage in the Gospel of Luke in the New Testament.
Stories that Make You Think:
To understand that the relationship we have with God is based on his mercy and forgiveness toward us; the more we understand of our condition and of God’s love for us in that condition, the more we are overwhelmed with gratitude toward him.
In Jesus’ time as well as today, people enjoyed getting together for an evening of dinner and conversation. The passage we are going to discuss tonight takes place at a dinner party. In your culture, do friends like to get together for dinner? What is a typical dinner party like in your country?
Before we read about the dinner party Jesus attended it’s important to understand some things about the culture of Jesus’ time. Jesus was invited to a dinner party at the home of a religious leader called a Pharisee. Apparently, this Pharisee had heard that Jesus was a famous teacher and had invited Jesus to dinner to learn some more about him. Pharisees were noted for keeping the Jewish ritual law down to the last detail. They believed they could become unclean or impure in God’s eyes by having contact with sinners, people who did not obey God’s laws.
Guests coming to dinner would have walked in sandals on dusty streets. A gracious host would have a servant wash a guest’s feet on arrival. Olive oil would also be poured on the guest’s heads as a pleasant gesture. Our host in the story did neither of these things for Jesus.
Dinner was served at a low table. The guests did not sit in chairs; rather they reclined on their left side and ate with their left hands. The table was often in a courtyard open to the street. Neighbors not invited to dinner could stand and listen to the dinner conversation. The open atmosphere made it possible for the sinful woman in the story to approach Jesus during the dinner party.
1. What is your opinion of the Pharisee, the host in the story? What kind of person is he? What is important to him? What is his opinion of the sinful woman? What is his attitude toward her?
2. What is your opinion of the sinful woman? What kind of person is she? How did Jesus interpret her action? What do you think her daily life must have been like? What do you think could have motivated her to brave the scorn of the religious people in order to show her devotion to Jesus?
3. What is your opinion of Jesus? What is he like? What is important to him?
4. What is the story or parable that Jesus tells to the Pharisee? What is the meaning of this story? What do you think Jesus wants the Pharisee to learn from this story?
5. The author does not tell how the Pharisee reacted to Jesus’ words. What do you think reaction would have been?
6. Jesus tells the woman that her sins are forgiven. The other guests say to themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” What are these people thinking about Jesus? What does their question imply? Who has authority to forgive sins?
7. Jesus says to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” What does faith mean. How has the woman demonstrated faith or trust in Jesus? What do you think Jesus meant by his statement?
8. What did you learn from this story? Based on this story, how do you think Jesus would want people to live? What do you think Jesus would say is the way to have a good relationship with God?
Close with a prayer asking God to help us to understand who we are and who he is so that we, like the sinful woman, can know how wonderful he is.