The Walk – “Relationship with Jesus is Rooted in the Gospel”
Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 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, 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, 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. 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. 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.” – Luke 7:36-50
The story of Simon the Pharisee and the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume in Luke 7:36-50 is one of the classic stories from the life of Jesus. It beautifully reveals the dynamic at work in the heart of someone who follows Christ. It’s not what a lot of people think. Actor Bruce Willis was once quoted in USA Weekend. He said: “They [organized religion] used to hang the whole thing on one hook: If you don’t do these things, if you don’t act morally, you’re going to burn in hell.” I imagine that is close to what a lot of people think Christianity is about.
But what does the Bible actually teach? Look again at the story from Luke 7:36-50. Look at, and listen to, Jesus as portrayed in this story.
1. What is it that Jesus values most in the woman?
2. What does Jesus reveal about the relationship between love and forgiveness?
Looking at verses 41-42 what was different about the two men in the story Jesus tells? What did they both have in common?
Based on the question of Jesus in verse 42, what is the story really about?
One thing this story shows us is that Jesus wants us to follow him because of our love for him and that love for him comes from the grace he gives us in the gospel. 1 John 4:19 says: We love because he first loved us. Throughout this story what Jesus identifies in this woman is the same source of power or devotion for discipleship that we saw in the life of Peter in John 21. I wonder how well we understand that? How well do we understand the way in which what we call the gospel, the good news, not only gets us into a relationship with Jesus as our Savior but empowers us to live as followers of Jesus who follow him because of our love for him? Take a moment to pray today that God will help you to grasp the greatness of his forgiving grace so that you will respond to him with authentic love.
If you don’t already have a Bible in a good modern translation, buy one. I will mostly be using the New International Version (NIV) for this class but there are other good translations like the English Standard Version (ESV) also. If you can afford a good Study Bible you may find the notes very helpful. If you do not own a bible ask the church or whoever is doing this study with you to help you get one.
This week’s memory verse is John 1:12 – Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
Begin reading the Bible. The first assignment is to begin reading the gospel of John. Take your time, read at your own pace and don’t worry about what you don’t understand at first. Focus on what you do understand. Listen to the Scripture personally as if you are witnessing what is happening and John and Jesus are speaking to you about these things. Ask yourself “What am I to make of all of this? What does it mean to follow Jesus? Write down your questions, thoughts and insights as you read.