a conversation by a roadside

Questions for Reflection and Discussion – Luke 7 37-48

We are studying Luke 7:37-48 for Sunday, October 27. This is Luke’s version of the story of the anointing woman. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider as we explore this text:

In v37, Luke identifies the woman as “a sinner.” Otherwise, all we know about her is her behavior in vv37-38: she is knowing about Jesus’s whereabouts, carrying the alabaster jar of ointment, weeping, raining tears on Jesus’s feet, wiping them dry with her hair, and kissing Jesus’s feet.

What impression do we have of this woman on the basis of Luke’s description? Why is that?

How does the description of the woman as a “sinner” affect the way we understand what her behavior means?

In v39, Jesus’s host thinks to himself “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” The implication seems to be that if Jesus knew this, he would not let her touch him.

Do we agree with the host? That is, do we agree that a prophet [A holy person? A representative of God?] should reject contact with a sinful person? Why? [For instance – because it would indicate approval of their sin? Acceptance of something unacceptable? Other?]

Can we think of an analogous situation today? What would it be? How does this story affect our thinking about that situation? Why?

Does Jesus seem to care whether his host recognizes him as a prophet? As holy? As a representative of God? As a teacher? What seems to be most important to Jesus in this story? Why do we say this?

Jesus interprets the woman’s behavior as a sign that she has been forgiven, and as a gesture of hospitality or love. What impression do we have of the woman after Jesus’s remarks? Why is that?

Do we think of the woman as repentant? Why is that? [For instance, is it something in the text? What? Is it something we believe about forgiveness? What? Something else?]

In v47, Jesus tells Simon the woman’s sins have been forgiven. In v48, he tells the woman her sins are forgiven. Why does Jesus repeat himself, do we think? How do Jesus’s statements affect the way we understand what is going on in the story?

What is the main theme for us in this story? [For instance, forgiveness, hospitality, Jesus’s acceptance, etc.]

How does that theme address us, would we say? What does the story affirm for us? Why? What question or questions does it raise for us? Why?

Is the woman a symbol of anyone or anything, do we think? Who, or what? What makes us say that? How does that affect our understanding of what is happening in the story, or what the story is “about”?

[Personal] If we took this story completely seriously, what would change for us? [For instance, what would change in our behavior, or in our attitude, or … ?] Why is that? How is it related to the message we hear in this story?

travellers stopping for a conversation by a wooded stream

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