Think about someone you know who has a difficult time extending forgiveness to others. How is this person’s life affected by their unforgiving nature?
Hearing the Word
In this story, we see how Jesus breaks the stereotypes of who should be forgiven—and why.
1. Read Luke 7:36-50. Describe the woman who met Jesus in this story. What was her reputation? What may have motivated her to intrude on the dinner party?
What does her behavior indicate about her? What may have been some of her strengths and needs?
2. How would you characterize Simon, the Pharisee? Paraphrase what he may have been thinking in v. 39. Contrast Simon’s relationship with Jesus and the woman’s relationship (vs. 44-46). What was the difference between them?
Why do you think Simon invited Jesus to dinner? In what way does Simon’s life reflect a need for forgiveness? What may have motivated his critical attitude?
Think about your own response to Jesus Christ. Compare your attitude and behavior to those of Simon and the woman. Talk with the Lord about what you discover.
3. How did Jesus respond when the dinner was interrupted? What does this show us about him? What lesson was Jesus trying to communicate about forgiveness?
How did the woman demonstrate that she had faith? What is the relationship between faith, love and forgiveness?
How did Jesus communicate to the woman (verbally and non-verbally) that she was forgiven?
4. Many of us experience a lack of freedom in expressing love to God and other people. Do you think there is a connection with not being able to accept or appreciate Christ’s forgiveness, or perhaps an inability to forgive ourselves? Other reasons?
Responding to the Word
Summarize what you have seen through this passage. What do you want to learn about forgiveness and acceptance from God? What are some ways that Christ’s forgiveness can affect your attitudes and behavior as you relate with people?
Forgiveness is a significant emotional and spiritual need. Think about colleagues and patients in your healthcare setting. What are ways people express guilt and the need for forgiveness? How can you encourage them through Jesus’ example and his teaching in this passage?
Write some actions you will take as you apply this story from God’s Word. If you are studying this passage in a group, the topic of forgiveness may raise issues of emotional pain. Jesus offers healing when his followers love each other and support one another in prayer.
Receiving Forgiveness (download PDF)