International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 10, 2016
Purpose: To realize that offering forgiveness often requires us to stretch the “rules” of faith
Bible Lesson: Luke 7:36-50
Key Verse: “This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
Luke 7:36-50 (CEB)
(36) One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. After he entered the Pharisee’s home, he took his place at the table. (37) Meanwhile, a woman from the city, a sinner, discovered that Jesus was dining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought perfumed oil in a vase made of alabaster. (38) Standing behind him at his feet and crying, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured the oil on them. (39) When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw what was happening, he said to himself, If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. He would know that she is a sinner. (40) Jesus replied, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher, speak,” he said. (41) “A certain lender had two debtors. One owed enough money to pay five hundred people for a day’s work. The other owed enough money for fifty. (42) When they couldn’t pay, the lender forgave the debts of them both. Which of them will love him more?” (43) Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled.” Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.” (44) Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your home, you didn’t give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. (45) You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing my feet since I came in. (46) You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has poured perfumed oil on my feet. (47) This is why I tell you that her many sins have been forgiven; so she has shown great love. The one who is forgiven little loves little.” (48) Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (49) The other table guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this person that even forgives sins?” (50) Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Let me begin by sharing some personal thoughts. For the past 9 weeks I have been undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. While this required a 40-mile round trip every day for 45 days, the treatment itself was not unpleasant nor did it cause any really serious side effects. I am sincerely grateful for all of the kind notes and prayers received over the past 2 months. It is because of you that I have decided to continue my blog, and God has not released me doing all that I can for His kingdom.
As for this week’s lesson, I think there are a few things that need to be clarified as we look at Luke’s account. First, Pharisees have been sort of villainized by many bible scholars. The Pharisees were a very devout sect that was trying to bring holiness to the populace. Many of the rules given by Moses and others applied to the priestly line. The Pharisees wanted the people to know how they could also live a holy life. Second, Luke’s account differs greatly from John’s account of a similar meeting. John’s (John 12:1-8) seems to take place near Bethany the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus and the Pharisee appears to the father of those three siblings. Mark’s account appears to take place in Galilee. Third, while the Pharisee is the host, he only acknowledges Jesus as “teacher” which is somewhat disrespectful for the Messiah.
As our lesson unfolds in Luke, the women who had a scandalous background, is seeking out Jesus implying a prior meeting. This is only important in that it is not the actions of the women which saves her, it is her faith and gratitude for having not been judged and condemned by Jesus, but she has received a peace of knowing forgiveness.
While the host offered no formal greeting or wash basin to remove the dust, this woman uses what she has to show her love and respect for Jesus.
The parable Jesus teaches is rather simple and the Pharisee offers an obligatory answer, but the lesson is for all of us, those that have been forgiven the most are often the most grateful.
There should not be an attempt to paint the women’s profession in a strictly negative light. Prostitution, whether enter into as an adult or sold into as a child was often the only way of surviving at that time. Her sin is not greater than our own, and like her we are all in need of forgiveness.
My final point may upset some of you, because we have always been taught that salvation is gift of grace and nothing we can do brings salvation about. But as Jesus says to the woman, in verse 50 “Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” While grace offers salvation to everyone, only our faith makes it happen. Only our faith allows us to “go in peace.”
I think the Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Depth of Mercy” is a good choice for this week’s hymn