Summary: This Bible study reveals the power of loving Jesus has on our lives.
The Power of Love
Midweek Bible Study
October 1, 1997
1. What is happening? Jesus was invited to the house of a Pharisee and a sinful
woman hears of Jesus being in town and enters the home. She goes to Jesus and immediately begins to wash His feet and anoints Him with perfume. This is an outrage for the Pharisee and he clearly objects to the woman being in the house and with Jesus. Jesus sets the record straight and defends the woman’s actions with an allegory. Jesus points out that her actions have been more righteous and proper than the Pharisee. Jesus states that the woman has shown a great deal of love and that her many sins have been forgiven. The passage flows in three sections: 1. The woman’s actions, 2. Simon’s response, 3. Jesus’ defense of the woman.
2. Who are the major Characters?
A. Jesus: In this passage it shows how Jesus had interaction with some of the key religious leaders and He is regarded as a teacher or a prophet by these leaders. The role that Jesus is playing in this passage reveals the public and personal opinions of the Pharisees toward Jesus. It is this fact of the passage that reveals Jesus willingness to share His love and message with everyone who would listen and accept. He does draw a fine line with their actions and remarks to the woman.
B. The Woman: There is little known about this woman except the fact that she has been a great sinner and that she has an alabaster jar of perfume. This would lead to the assumption that the woman had money or resources of some kind. It is also speculated that this woman may have been a prostitute because of her wealth and this is most likely the case. She had hear of Jesus and the acts of power and mercy that He was doing in the region. It was His reputation that the woman knew and she wanted to see Him. So she risked rejection and went to Simon’s house. The woman showers Jesus with love and shows the true nature of her heart and her changed life. The identity of this woman is not disclosed but it is clear that she was truly repentant of her sins and that they were forgiven when she left the house.
It can be presumed that she may have been one of the women that traveled with Jesus. (Luke 8.1-3) Another possibility is that this woman was Mary Magdalene and this was the event that saved her but it does not take into account the fact that demons were driven from her. There is no gospel account of this story and it has been stated that the demons were driven from her and this event was her reaction.
C. Simon the Pharisee: Simon seems to be one of those interested in the message of Jesus and he seems to want to learn more about Jesus and His ministry. However, the true heart is revealed when he sees how Jesus acts with the sinful woman and that she is accepted and loved by Jesus. The situation becomes even worse when Jesus points out that Simon has not been a gracious host and that the woman has treated Him with more love and respect. The killing blow comes when Jesus forgives the woman of her sins and to go in peace. The Pharisees began to mutter about Jesus forgiving sins because they believed that only God could forgive sin. This is true but what they did not realize was that Jesus was God.
3. When is this happening? This event takes place shortly after Jesus’ encounter with the widow from Nain in the early section of the later part of the first year of Jesus’ public ministry. It is at this point of Jesus’ ministry that reveals much of His attitude toward the established Jewish thinking and how He treated all people as equals.
4. Where is this event happening? There is not clear evidence given about where this event takes place but there are three possibilities. First, there is no record of Jesus leaving the area of Nain and the following section of 8.1-3 describes Jesus traveling to various places in Galilee. It is somewhat doubtful that Jesus is still in Nain because it was not a major town. Another possibility is that Jesus had returned to Capernaum and Luke did not record the change. This would explain how the woman knew of Him and how she knew of His acts of mercy and power. This may also explain the reason for the visit to the house of Simon because Jesus may have known the man and wished to speak and teach him further. Caperaum seems to be a logical location. However, if tradition and speculation is correct and this woman is Mary Magdalene; this event occurs in Magdala. Magdala was a small fishing village on the Sea of Galilee and would have been a good place to stop on a journey back towards Capernaum. The simple fact is that we do not know and the event is still the same no matter what the location.