STUDY | Spend the week studying Luke 7:36–50. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | I can thank God in every situation and trust that He is good.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
SEASON OF GRATITUDE
Thanksgiving is full of tradition. Families large and small gather around the dinner table to celebrate with a feast of good food, stories and laughter. Some families take the opportunity to acknowledge all they’re thankful for in the past year. Of course, the afternoon is for relaxing, naps and watching football (or some combination of the three).
Thanksgiving reminds us of the importance of being grateful in life. Our God is good, and He wants to bless us with a touch of His gratitude. This week your group will look at a story of a truly grateful woman who experienced Jesus’s love and forgiveness.
Q: What are your Thanksgiving traditions?
Q: How would you define gratitude (or thankfulness) in your own words?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
A SURPRISE GUEST
Jesus had a reputation for hanging out with sinners. He was different than the religious leaders of His day, the Pharisees. They wouldn’t associate with people they deemed “sinners.” But Jesus befriended sinners. He took an interest in them. He talked to them, listened to their stories and shared meals with them.
One day, the script was flipped when Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus over for dinner. Many were wondering, “Who is this man? Is He a prophet? Is He the Messiah? Is He just plain crazy?” The Pharisees were some of Jesus’s biggest opponents. For Jesus to have dinner with someone who opposed Him was interesting enough. But what happened after dinner is where the story gets even more intriguing.
After dinner, everyone was sitting around the table reclining and relaxing when a woman entered the room. Luke doesn’t even give us her name. All we know is that she was a sinner. She came to Jesus with a bottle of perfume. As she stood before Him, her tears fell like rain on Jesus’s feet. The woman fell to her knees and wiped Jesus’s feet with her hair. She kissed His feet and anointed them with her perfume. This woman had lived a hard life. She had messed up more times than she could count. Could anyone forgive all she had done to blow up her life?
Read: Luke 7:36–50. What do the woman’s actions reveal about her?
Q: What are some specific ways you could take initiative and build relationships with those outside your circle of family and friends?
A LESSON IN GRACE
Simon stood there, dumbfounded. He thought to himself, “If this man were really a prophet, He wouldn’t have anything to do with this sinful woman.” Being the Son of God, Jesus knew what this Pharisee was thinking. So He gave Simon a parable and a question. “Imagine a lender has two debtors. One owes a small debt and the other owes an enormous debt. Neither can pay the debt, and the lender forgives both of their debts. Who do you think is more grateful?” Simon thought for a moment and answered, “I suppose the one who owed a larger debt.” Jesus said, “Exactly! Look at this woman. I’m a guest in your home and you haven’t done anything close to what she has done for me. Yes, this woman is a sinner, but I forgive her because she loved me so much. If you’re forgiven little, you’ll love little.”
Q: Recall a time when someone forgave you. What did you learn about forgiveness from this person?
Q: Where do you see the relationship between gratitude and grace in this story?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
SEEING GOD’S BLESSINGS
We can learn a lot about gratitude from this woman. She knew she was a sinner. She saw the condition she was in and that she couldn’t get out of it on her own. That’s why she came to Jesus. She saw Jesus, and she saw God’s love and grace in Him. And Jesus showed God’s love and grace by forgiving her and setting her free.
God blesses you every day with gifts you don’t deserve. Like this woman, you’re a sinner in need. Jesus blessed this woman with His love and forgiveness, and He wants to bless you too. Gratitude begins with acknowledging your need before God and thanking Him for what He has given you that you simply don’t deserve. Our God gives good gifts and blesses us because He is good, not because we are good and earn them.
Q: Why can you not have gratitude without acknowledging your need before God?
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to open your eyes to see where God has blessed you?
The woman didn’t just feel grateful. She showed her gratitude to Jesus for all to see. She didn’t care what others thought about her. She was focused on the One who blessed her and forgave her.
Like an open spigot, gratitude freely flows out of a heart that praises God for who He is and what He does in your life. Gratitude is an attitude that always defaults to thankfulness. When you’re truly grateful, you thank God for whatever comes your way. Even in hardship, you can thank God and trust Him to use your suffering for His glory and your joy.
You can put your gratitude into action by:
- Worshiping God and offering praise in your faith community.
- Serving Jesus by serving others inside and outside your faith community.
- Speaking words of gratitude and pointing others to the Source of your gratitude.
- Walking with God and living a transformed life that reflects your gratitude and love for God.
Q: How is it possible to thank God for hardship and suffering?
Q: Consider ways you can put your gratitude into action. Decide on one thing you will do this week to show gratitude.
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
What did this woman get in return for her gratitude? Jesus forgave her sins and told her to go in peace. She put her trust in Jesus and that saved her.
A grateful heart experiences peace. Where does true peace come from? True peace comes from knowing:
- God loves you beyond words. He showed how much He loved you by sending His Son to die for your sins. Because of Jesus, you have peace with God (Romans 5:1).
- The Father cares for your needs. The Father knows you. He knows exactly what you need, and He moves in your life to be your Provider (Matthew 6:25–34).
- You are content in what you have. You trust the Father to provide what you need at the right time. Sometimes we think we need something when, in fact, it wasn’t a true need after all. Trust that God knows your biggest needs and works to meet them every day as you walk with Him (Philippians 4:11–13).
- You understand that walking with Jesus gives you peace and hope. The future is bright for God’s people. Your present may include suffering and need, but God promises to be enough for you when life is hard and your hope seems small (2 Corinthians 12:9). Even the blessings we experience today that make us grateful cannot compare to what we will inherit as children of God in the future (1 Peter 1:3–7).
Q: Where do you want to experience more of God’s peace in your life right now?
Q: How can your group encourage one another toward having a grateful heart?
Spend time simply praising God and thanking Him for who He is and for the blessings He has given you this past year. Ask Him to give you a grateful heart and keep you from feeling entitled or discontent.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read the passages mentioned in the “Experiencing Peace” section and reflect on how these passages can give you peace this week.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Context for the Meal
“That they reclined at the meal indicates that it was a banquet or Sabbath meal. Concerning the latter, it was quite common to invite a visiting rabbi or teacher to the Sabbath meal after he had taught in the synagogue (cf. Mark 1:29–31). If it was a banquet meal, Jesus may have been invited because of his reputation as a prophet.”1
The Woman’s Appearance
It was a social custom for needy people to visit banquets in order to receive some of the leftovers. This explains how the woman could enter the home of Simon the Pharisee.2 However, we know she didn’t come just for food. She came with a bottle of perfume to see Jesus and anoint Him.
Lack of Hospitality
The woman poured perfume on Jesus’s feet, but Simon the Pharisee did not anoint Jesus’s head with oil. Anointing a guest’s head with olive oil showed respect for one’s guest (see Ps. 23:5; 141:5; Amos 6:6; Matt. 6:17; Luke 10:34).3
1. Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 235–236.
2. Walter L. Liefeld and David W. Pao, “Luke,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 150.
3. Trent C. Butler, Luke, vol. 3, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 110–111.