Explore the Bible Study: Loved

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Do you believe life is full of second chances? Most of us have been given a second chance at some point in our lives. When we admitted we made a big mistake, there was a person in our lives willing to see past that mistake and to help us move forward. That individual’s offer of forgiveness, assistance in moving forward, and opportunity to prove ourselves, caused us to appreciate and love that person in a deeper way. This should also be the response we have to Christ’s forgiveness. Living in the reality of His forgiveness should prompt expressions of love, thankfulness, honor, and gratefulness. This is the focus of the Explore the Bible Study: Loved.

Luke closes this portion of his Gospel by returning to the theme of forgiveness. Jesus is going to teach another lesson regarding forgiveness as He dines with a Pharisee named Simon. In order to fully grasp the events, one needs to read what unfolds leading up to the key passages found in Luke 7:36-39:  Then one of the Pharisees invited him to eat with him. He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume 38 and stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears. She wiped his feet with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with the perfume. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “This man, if he were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—she’s a sinner!” (CSB)

We do not know why Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him. Perhaps he wanted to get to know Jesus better, or perhaps he was hoping to get some new evidence with which to accuse Him. What we do know is that Simon was embarrassed and even appalled when this woman of great sin came into his house to anoint Jesus! This could have been a life-changing experience for Simon, but he was too blind to see the truths involved.

Simon the Pharisee most likely felt that he was favored by God because of his standing as a Jew and as a religious leader; therefore he was better than the woman and was not in need of forgiveness. Jesus turns this into a teachable moment regarding the need to receive God’s forgiveness, the depth of God’s love, and the surety of His forgiveness.

Luke 7:40-50 begins the lesson Jesus is going to teach on this particular day. As you study or lead the study, consider the lessons Jesus desires to teach you regarding how you embrace and express your gratitude for the forgiveness offered to you by Jesus Christ. Here are some things to consider as you study the passage:

Luke 7:40-43

  • The Holman New Testament Commentary asks an interesting question regarding this passage. It’s a question we too should consider: “What would your church do if you showed Christ’s love to a person with the kind of reputation the sinful woman had? How can your church be sure it ministers to the people Jesus sought out rather than just to people who are just like you socially, economically, religiously, and racially?”
  • Consider which person’s attitude describes your view of forgiveness – that of Simon the Pharisee or that of the woman. Would you say you are absolutely amazed by Christ’s forgiveness, or is it something you have taken for granted?
  • What actions would demonstrate that we are totally amazed at, grateful for, and humbled by the forgiveness we have received from Christ?

Luke 7:44-47
  • Simon saw a broken woman, but Jesus saw a broken heart. Simon saw someone who didn’t belong, but Jesus saw someone loved by His Father. Simon saw a sinner far from God, but Jesus saw a person who understood her need for forgiveness.
  • We can only speculate regarding the situation that brought her to Simon’s house. What we do know is that it was the reality of her forgiveness that prompted her to love much! She desired to demonstrate her gratefulness for forgiveness. Her actions had not earned her salvation. No one finds salvation through good works. Her lavish display of love revealed the transformation God had performed in her life and that Jesus affirms in the next passages.
  • Like a lot of religious leaders in his day, Simon the Pharisee probably thought his devotion or his Jewish heritage kept him on good terms with God. He kept the law while keeping his distance from “sinners” like this woman. Because he never felt the power of forgiveness, he never experienced the power of love.
Luke 7:48-50
  • Jesus paid no attention to the doubters and skeptics around the table. Instead, He continued talking to the woman and taught two important principles. First, He let her know that she had been saved by faith. Good works have no power to save anyone—even a grand display of adoration like the woman had shown. Faith always has been the way to salvation. The second thing Jesus noted was that she could now go in peace.
While faith is the prerequisite for salvation, peace is a by-product, and Jesus not only desires to forgive you but to give you peace—with Himself, about your future, about your life, and in your relationships. Without Christ we are broken by sin and live in a state of war against God, fighting Him at every turn. Trying to utilize substitutes to correct this problem only leads to more brokenness. Nothing can substitute for the forgiveness and peace we experience when we truly seek forgiveness from Jesus and turn our lives over to Him. 

I hope you and I are like the woman who, as Jesus stated in verse 47, loved Him much because her many sins were forgiven. Please don’t be like the one Jesus describes as being forgiven little, so loves little.

Downloadable Study Helps

The Bible study helps have been modified in order to provide opportunities for both online and face-to-face teaching venues. Ideas in boxes will be provided for engaging groups more when meeting in person. The boxed items could also be modified and used for online discussion as well. 

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