Lesson 48: Luke 7:18–50

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Jesus praised John the Baptist and testified that John prepared the way for His ministry. While Jesus was eating with Simon the Pharisee, a repentant woman showed her faith in and love for the Savior.

Suggestions for Teaching

Luke 7:18–35

Jesus praises John the Baptist and testifies of John’s mission

Invite students to work in pairs, and give each pair a piece of paper. Ask the pairs to write down as many facts about John the Baptist from memory as they can in one minute. After one minute, ask students to count the number of facts on their papers.

  • How many facts about John the Baptist were you able to list?

Invite students to tell the class about some of the facts they listed.

If possible, display a tall reed of grass and a soft piece of clothing. Explain that Jesus used these items to teach the people about John the Baptist’s character. Invite a student to read Luke 7:24–26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus taught about John the Baptist while referring to a reed and soft clothing.

  • How was John the Baptist different from a reed or blade of grass? (Unlike a reed, which is shaken or blown about by the wind, John the Baptist was firm and unshakable in his testimony and in performing his mission.)

John the Baptist teaching

John the Baptist preaching

Display the accompanying picture of John the Baptist and ask:

  • How was John the Baptist different from those who are “clothed in soft raiment” and live in luxury “in kings’ courts” (verse 25)? (John the Baptist lived in the desert and wore clothing made of camel’s hair, which was very coarse. Rather than seeking temporal comforts, John the Baptist only sought to do God’s will.)

  • What did Jesus say about John the Baptist in verse 26?

To help students understand John the Baptist’s unique role, explain that Jesus quoted a prophecy written hundreds of years before that spoke of a “messenger” who would “prepare the way before [the Messiah]” (Malachi 3:1). Invite a student to read Luke 7:27–28 aloud, and ask the class to follow along, looking for why John the Baptist was unique among prophets.

  • What unique and important role was John the Baptist foreordained to perform? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following truth: John the Baptist was the prophet foreordained to prepare the way for and baptize the Son of God.)

  • How did John the Baptist prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ?

Explain that the Prophet Joseph Smith said the following regarding Luke 7:28:

Prophet Joseph Smith

“Jesus was looked upon as having the least claim in God’s kingdom, and [seemingly] was least entitled to their credulity as a prophet; as though He had said—‘He that is considered the least among you is greater than John—that is I myself’” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 82).

Summarize Luke 7:29–35 by explaining that many believed Jesus’s teachings, but the Pharisees and lawyers who were present rejected His teachings. Jesus explained that they rejected the truth regardless of whether He or John the Baptist taught it.

Luke 7:36–50

While Jesus dines with Simon the Pharisee, a woman washes Jesus’s feet with her tears

Write the following question on the board: Can I be forgiven?

Invite students to consider times when they may have wondered if they could be forgiven. Invite them to look for truths that answer this question as they continue their study of Luke 7.

To help students understand the context and content of Luke 7:36–50, invite a student to read aloud the following summary and explanation:

A Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to a feast in his home. At feasts of this kind, guests would recline on cushions around a low table and extend their feet away from the table. Social customs of the day allowed people in need to collect leftover food from the banquets. Thus, it was not unusual for uninvited people to enter the home during a feast (see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 261).

video iconTo help students further understand the content of Luke 7:36–50, consider showing the video “Come unto Me” (11:34), available on LDS.org. You could play the segment of the video that portrays Jesus dining with Simon the Pharisee (beginning at time code 4:17). Ask the class to follow along in their scriptures, looking for what happened when an uninvited person entered Simon’s home during the feast. Pause the video after Jesus says, “Thou has rightly judged” (Luke 7:43) (time code 7:24).

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  • How did Luke describe the woman portrayed in Luke 7:37?

  • How did the woman show her love for the Savior? (You may want to explain that an “alabaster box of ointment” was a bottle filled with costly perfumed oil.)

  • What did Simon think when he saw what the woman was doing?

To review the parable Jesus taught, ask a student to read Luke 7:40–43 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus taught Simon.

Copy the following chart on the board.

Creditor = __________________________________________________

Debtor who owes 50 pence = __________________________________________________

Debtor who owes 500 pence = __________________________________________________

Explain that a creditor is someone who lends money; a person who borrows money is a debtor. The debtor agrees to pay back the creditor or go to jail. Ask a student to summarize the parable in his or her own words.

  • Whom does the creditor represent? (Write Jesus Christ on the board next to “Creditor.”)

  • Which of the debtors could represent the woman, and which could represent Simon the Pharisee? Why? (Write Simon the Pharisee next to “Debtor who owes 50 pence” and Woman next to “Debtor who owes 500 pence.”)

Explain that during Jesus’s time it was customary for the host to honor his distinguished guests by offering acts of kindness such as kissing them in greeting, providing water for them to wash their feet, and anointing their heads with oil (see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 261).

Resume the video at time code 7:25 and stop it after Jesus says, “Go in peace” (Luke 7:50) (time code 8:52). Or, invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Luke 7:44–47. Ask the class to look for how Simon treated Jesus in comparison to how the woman treated Him and how they each might have felt about Jesus.

  • According to verses 44–47, what were some differences between how Simon treated Jesus and how the woman treated Him and how they each might have felt about Jesus? (Write students’ responses in the chart on the board.)

When students have finished reporting what they found, the chart should look similar to the following:

Creditor = Jesus Christ

Debtor who owes 50 pence = Simon the Pharisee

Did not give Jesus water to wash His feet

Did not give Him a kiss

Did not anoint Him with oil

Loved Him little

Debtor who owes 500 pence = Woman

Washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair

Kissed His feet

Anointed His feet with ointment

Loved Him much

  • What blessing did the woman receive from the Savior?

Point out that by implicitly comparing Simon to the debtor who owes 50 pence, the Savior was suggesting that Simon also needed forgiveness for his sins.

Invite students to read Luke 7:47–50 silently, and ask them to look for what made it possible for this woman to receive forgiveness.

  • What principles can we learn from this account? (Using students’ words, write the following principles on the board: As we exercise our faith by showing our love for and devotion to the Lord, we can experience His forgiveness. As we receive the Lord’s forgiveness, we are filled with the desire to love and serve Him even more.)

  • Why might we desire to love and serve the Savior even more as we experience His forgiveness?

Invite three students to each read aloud a paragraph from the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Neil L. Andersen

“There are many degrees of personal worthiness and righteousness. Yet repentance is a blessing to all of us. We each need to feel the Savior’s arms of mercy through the forgiveness of our sins.

“Years ago, I was asked to meet with a man who, long before our visit, had had a period of riotous living. As a result of his bad choices, he lost his membership in the Church. He had long since returned to the Church and was faithfully keeping the commandments, but his previous actions haunted him. Meeting with him, I felt his shame and his deep remorse at having set his covenants aside. Following our interview, I placed my hands upon his head to give him a priesthood blessing. Before speaking a word, I felt an overpowering sense of the Savior’s love and forgiveness for him. Following the blessing, we embraced and the man wept openly.

“I am amazed at the Savior’s encircling arms of mercy and love for the repentant, no matter how selfish the forsaken sin. I testify that the Savior is able and eager to forgive our sins. Except for the sins of those few who choose perdition after having known a fulness, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven. What a marvelous privilege for each of us to turn away from our sins and to come unto Christ. Divine forgiveness is one of the sweetest fruits of the gospel, removing guilt and pain from our hearts and replacing them with joy and peace of conscience” (“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 40–41).

Invite students to think of a time when they experienced the Lord’s forgiveness. Ask them to ponder what they thought and how they felt about the Savior.

Refer to the question on the board. Ask students to explain how they would answer if someone asked them, “Can I be forgiven?”

Conclude the lesson by testifying that Jesus Christ has power to forgive us if we exercise faith in Him and repent of our sins.

scripture mastery iconScripture Mastery Review

To help students review the five scripture mastery passages they have studied so far during this course, you may want to give them a brief quiz. Provide the key words from the seminary bookmark, and ask students to write down the corresponding scripture references. See the appendix of this manual for more ideas.

Commentary and Background Information

Luke 7:18–20. Did John the Baptist doubt that Jesus was the Messiah?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a clear answer to this question:

“Any inference that the Baptist was uncertain or doubtful in his own mind, as to the identity and mission of the Master, is totally unwarranted. In reality, the imprisoned Elias and forerunner of our Lord was using this means to persuade his disciples to forsake him and follow Jesus.

“John knew who Jesus was; the Baptist was not wavering as a reed in the wind. … This act of sending his disciples to Jesus was in effect a final great testimony on John’s part that Jesus was the Lamb of God, for the Baptist knew that his disciples, seeing the Master personally and hearing his teachings, could not help but follow the greater light” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:261–62).

John the Baptist understood an important truth that President James E. Faust of the First Presidency reiterated:

“Each of us has to receive our own witness concerning Jesus as the Christ. We cannot get it secondhand from someone else” (“A Testimony of Christ,” Ensign or Liahona, Mar. 2005, 3).

Luke 7:20–22. Why does the Lord perform miracles?

President Brigham Young described the role miracles play in the Lord’s work:

“Miracles … are to console the Saints, and to strengthen and confirm the faith of those who love, fear, and serve God” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 341).

Luke 7:24–28. “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist”

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained why Jesus considered John the Baptist the greatest prophet:

“First. He was entrusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.

“Secondly. He was entrusted with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize the Son of Man. Whoever had the honor of doing that? Whoever had so great a privilege and glory? Whoever led the Son of God into the waters of baptism, and had the privilege of beholding the Holy Ghost descend in the form of a dove, or rather in the sign of the dove, in witness of that administration? …

“Thirdly. John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey his instructions or be damned, by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which He had given to Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it. The son of Zacharias wrested the keys, the kingdom, the power, the glory from the Jews, by the holy anointing and decree of heaven, and these three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 81–82).

Luke 7:37–50. What do we know about the woman?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote that the woman referred to in Luke 2:37–50 came to the Savior already having repented and desiring to show her love. In referring to the affection she demonstrated, he said, “All this was the work and worship of a devout and faithful woman who had been a sinner but who was now cleansed; who was now free from the crushing burden of many offenses; who now walked in a newness of life because of him whose feet she now kissed and upon whom she now bestowed all the reverent and awe-inspired love that her whole soul had power to possess” (The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979–81], 2:200).

Luke 7:47–50. “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven”

Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Quorum of the Seventy raised and answered the question of whether someone who desires forgiveness is ever beyond the ability to receive it through the Atonement of Jesus Christ:

“Is it possible to reclaim a life that through reckless abandon has become so strewn with garbage that it appears that the person is unforgivable? Or what about the one who is making an honest effort but has fallen back into sin so many times that he feels that there is no possible way to break the seemingly endless pattern? Or what about the person who has changed his life but just can’t forgive himself? …

“The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. His Atonement is infinite. It applies to everyone, even you. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you. That is what infinite means—total, complete, all, forever” (“The Atonement Can Clean, Reclaim, and Sanctify Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 33–34).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Luke 7:18–23. Strengthening testimonies

Ask students:

  • What are some things a person has that, if asked, he or she could give to another person? (Answers may include money, food, clothing, and shelter.)

  • What are some things a person may have that he or she could not give another person? (Answers may include health or talents.)

If students do not mention testimony, ask:

  • In which of these categories would you include a testimony? Why?

As students continue their study of Luke 7 today, invite them to look for a principle that can help them know how they can gain or strengthen their testimonies.

Remind students that while in Galilee, Jesus healed a centurion’s servant and brought a widow’s son back to life (Luke 7:2–15). As a result of these acts, rumors that Jesus was a great prophet spread throughout the land.

Invite a student to read Luke 7:18–20 aloud, and ask the class to look for what two questions John the Baptist’s disciples asked when they heard the reports about Jesus.

  • What two questions did the disciples ask? (You may want to explain that the phrase “he that should come” [verse 19] refers to the promised Messiah.)

Remind students that John the Baptist had already testified that Jesus was the promised Messiah who would save His people from their sins (see Matthew 3:11, 14; John 1:29–34).

  • If John the Baptist already had a testimony of Jesus Christ, why do you think he would send his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah?

  • How did these disciples show that they believed Jesus might be the Messiah?

Invite a student to read Luke 7:21–23 aloud and ask the class to follow along, looking for how Jesus answered the disciples’ questions. Ask students to report what they find.

  • How might the miracles John the Baptist’s disciples witnessed have strengthened their testimonies of Jesus Christ?

  • Based on this account, what can we expect the Lord to do as we seek confirmation of spiritual truths? (If we seek confirmation of spiritual truths, the Lord will give us experiences that will help strengthen our testimonies.)

  • What experiences can the Lord give us to help strengthen our testimonies?

Ask students to reflect on the truths they have learned for themselves.

  • What experiences has the Lord provided for you to help strengthen your testimony?

Point out that after this experience, Jesus instructed John’s disciples to return and share with John what they had discovered.