Bible Study Lesson:
Q. What can we learn about the woman with the alabaster jar from this passage?
- Sinner, Lived publicly sinful life
- She knew Jesus and wanted to meet him
- Bold enough to go to Simon the Pharisee’s house without invitation!
- Repentant about her sinful life
- (Also check, Jesus and Zacchaeus, the tax collector)
Q. What were the common courtesy, a host has to do in that culture?
- Washing feet of the guest - it was hot, dry and dusty land, so it was much part of hospitality to wash guest’s feet for food and lodging.
- It was custom to welcome guests with a kiss. It was an act of affection and reverence.
- Kissing feet was also not unusual.
- People used to kiss Rabbi’s feet. It was a mark of subjection, obedience and reverence.
- Anointing with fragrant oil was customary and again it was act of courtesy and hospitality.
Q. What did the woman do at the dinner? What does her actions show?
- Weeping – Repentant
- To keep hair loose was a disgraceful for Jewish woman.
- She washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped it with her hair.
- She kissed his feet and poured out jar of alabaster perfume on them.
- So, this woman by her actions was carrying out duty of a host and ‘Inviting Jesus’.
Q. How was Simon’s attitude towards Jesus and woman with Alabaster?
- Towards woman: disrespectful, hatred, rejection, judgment.
- Towards Jesus: doubtful, doesn’t know who Jesus is.
- (He invited Jesus for dinner, but did not show any sign of reverence to his guest.)
- (Also check, Parable of Wedding Feast)
Q. How did Jesus clear his doubts?
- As often, Jesus told him a parable of a moneylender.
Q. What was the main idea of the parable of moneylender and debtors?
- Both the debtors were unable to repay!
- It was the Moneylender’s decision to cancel their debts. (They did not deserve it.)
- A denarius was a coin worth about a day’s wages. So, to put it into perspective, one may have a debt of about $2500 ($50 per day), and the other may have about $25000. You can see the significant difference between their debts.
- Jesus accepts the fact that there are people with varying debt. But he also reminds us that none of us are able to pay it off and that just because others have more debt does not nullify your own debt.
- Simon was guilty of judging the woman as a ‘Sinner’, and indirectly assuming himself a ‘Righteous’. Jesus by telling this parable, reminds Simon not to be too quick to judge her. She may be in more debt, but he also owes nonetheless.
Q. How does Jesus compare Simon and woman’s actions?
- Simon failed to meet the most basic duties of a host. On the other hand, the woman’s actions showed overflowing love for Jesus.
- Overflowing and extravagant love is the expression of true forgiveness.
Q. Does it mean that those who have more sinful life have an advantage?
- It seems to be true. Pharisees were often guilty of being self-righteous. (please comment)
- Jesus did not deny the fact that she is a sinner. But he forgave her sins because of her faith and love towards Jesus.
Bible lessons from the ‘story of woman with the alabaster jar’:
- Do you judge others around you, especially those ‘sinful’ people?
- We need to realize that we all are morally bankrupt, when it comes to God’s standard. Gospel is actually ‘one beggar telling other where is food’!
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