01 March 2007

Part 12-Luke 7:1-8:3 (B) "questions"

Here are my responses for this week’s Luke study guide. Click the link below to read the rest.

OBSERVE // what does it say?

Who has initiated this dinner meeting? The Pharisee named Simon is the one who has extended the invitation to Jesus to come eat with him (v. 36).

What is revealed about the intent of the inviter? Revealed may be a strong word—“suggested” may be more accurate. Luke has already revealed that the Pharisees have generally turned against Jesus and actively working against Him (6:11). The text suggests that this Pharisee is trying to decide for himself who Jesus is. Is He a prophet? This invitation may have been given to allow him a chance to see for himself (v.39). The fact that Jesus does not seem to have been treated with special warmth, or perhaps even customary etiquette (vv. 44-46) may be a further suggestion that this Pharisee was seeking, albeit skeptically.

What does Jesus note in the differing receptions He has received? Jesus notes the aforementioned contrast. This woman, who is not the host, goes out of her way and beyond convention to make Jesus feel welcomed, valued, loved. The host, Simon, has not.

What does Luke’s list of supporters (8:1-3) tell us? Women were actively supportive of Jesus—beyond the sinful woman that we have just seen attending to Jesus. Like her, these women are supporting Jesus in tangible ways—whether by presence (v.2) or resources (v.3) as a result of the impact that His ministry has had on them (v.2). These women range from the obviously needy sinful women such as Mary Magdalene, to women of stature and some means such as Joanna whose husband is Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household. It was not uncommon for women in this time to support a teacher. It is, however, very uncommon for them to be traveling with a Jewish rabbi. Most Jews would view this as highly inappropriate.

INTERPRET // what does it mean?

What does Simon’s response to Jesus’ story about debtors suggest? Simon appears to be hesitant or reluctant as he concedes the answer that appears to be correct (v.43). He may already see Jesus’ point, or at least be wary of what an interaction with Jesus may lead to. Typically, it’s not good for the religious leaders who seem to come out looking pretty bad.

Is Jesus aware of this woman’s numerous sins? Does it matter? Jesus is aware of the woman’s past. The story He tells presumes the presence of many debts or sins (vv.41-42). As he talks to Simon about her, he makes this explicit in noting “her many sins” (v.47).

Is the creditor in Jesus’ going above and beyond what was normal? Yes. Under the law, he had the right to see them prosecuted and punished for the debt that they could not repay. At most, he might set-aside the punishment they were due and forestall collecting the money that he was due to some later time. Instead, he wipes the slate clean forgiving their debt altogether (v. 42). This is an incredible act on the part of the moneylender—not at all in-character for someone who would be in this line of business.

What is the biggest driver of how you respond to Jesus? Jesus talks about the woman’s love (v.47) and her faith (v.50). These two elements are described as being linked to her being forgiven from her sins (v.48), having been saved (v.50), and going on in peace (v.50). Faith and love are linked…interchangeable?...both necessary?... to the interaction that she has had with Jesus and the way that she is responding to him. Could it be that these two are inherently inseparable (spend some time pondering 1 Cor. 13—in particular v.13) in how we respond to Jesus if we’re really fully responding appropriately? Her actions in response to Jesus equally express faith and love, as Luke makes clear, but it would not be a stretch to see it as also expressing future hope. The question may be: Is your response to Jesus full on each of these dimensions?

Why is Jesus’ statement of forgiveness so inappropriate in their minds? Telling a person that their sins were forgiven was not unheard of. In the past prophets had pronounced on God’s behalf that people’s sins were forgiven (2 Sam. 12:13; Is. 40:2). But Jesus’ statement is direct. He speaks for Himself, not on God’s behalf. Priests routinely told the people that there sins had been forgiven (Lev. 4:20, 26, 5:10, 13), but it was after they had done the necessary prescribed sacrifices and religious observances. In their eyes, there was no way that the expressions of love that she had just lavished on Jesus met these requirements.

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