Jesus praised John the Baptist and testified that John prepared the way for His ministry. While Jesus was eating with a Pharisee, a repentant woman showed her faith in and love for Jesus.
What do you remember about John the Baptist?
In your scripture study journal, list as many facts about John the Baptist as you can remember.
Imagine a reed (a tall blade of grass) and someone dressed in soft, expensive clothing and living in a palace. As you think about these, read Luke 7:24–26, looking for what Jesus taught about John the Baptist.
How do you think John the Baptist was different from a reed and someone living in luxury?
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. He lived in the desert and wore clothing made of camel hair, which was very coarse. Rather than seeking physical comforts, John sought to do God’s will.
When Jesus said, “I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee” (Luke 7:27), He was quoting a prophecy written hundreds of years before that spoke of a “messenger” who would “prepare the way before [the Messiah]” (Malachi 3:1). From these verses we learn that John the Baptist was the prophet foreordained to prepare the way for and to baptize the Son of God.
How did John the Baptist prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ?
The Prophet Joseph Smith said the following about Luke 7:28: “Jesus was looked upon as having the least claim in God’s kingdom, and [seemingly] was least entitled to their credulity [their willingness to believe] 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 , 82).
In Luke 7:29–35 we read 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.
Have you ever wondered whether you can be forgiven for your sins?
As you study the rest of Luke 7, look for truths that can help you when you wonder if you can be forgiven.
We read in Luke 7:36 that a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to a feast in his home. At feasts of this kind, guests would sit or recline on cushions around a low table, with their feet extended away from the table. The poor were allowed to collect leftover food from banquets, so it was not unusual for uninvited people to enter the home during a feast (see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 261).
Read Luke 7:37–39, looking for who entered this particular feast without an invitation.
Notice that the woman showed her love for the Savior by washing, kissing, and anointing His feet. An “alabaster box of ointment” (Luke 7:37) was a bottle filled with costly perfumed oil.
According to Luke 7:39, what did Simon think when he saw what the woman was doing?
Perceiving Simon’s thoughts, Jesus taught a parable about two debtors and a creditor. A creditor is someone who lends money; a debtor is a person who borrows money. The debtor agrees to pay back the creditor or go to jail.
Read Luke 7:40–43, and consider whom each individual in the parable might represent.
Copy the following chart in your scripture study journal. Fill in the blanks with Simon the Pharisee, the woman, and Jesus, according to the individual each might represent in the parable. (Leave space in the “Debtor” columns to write more information for the next assignment.)
Debtor who owes 50 pence =
Debtor who owes 500 pence =
Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught about the hospitality that hosts would commonly show their guests during Jesus’s time: “It was the custom of the times to treat a distinguished guest with marked attention; to receive him with a kiss of welcome, to provide water for washing the dust from his feet, and oil for anointing the hair of the head and the beard” (Jesus the Christ, 261).
Read Luke 7:44–46, looking for the differences between how Simon welcomed Jesus to his feast and how the woman treated Jesus.
In the chart in your scripture study journal, list in the appropriate columns some of the differences between how Simon treated Jesus and how the woman treated Him.
By indirectly comparing Simon to the debtor who owed 50 pence, Jesus was suggesting that he also needed to be forgiven for his sins.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on the faith of this woman: “In effect Jesus is saying: ‘Her sins were many, but she believed in me, has repented of her sins, was baptized by my disciples, and her sins were washed away in the waters of baptism. Now she has sought me out to exhibit the unbounded gratitude of one who was filthy, but is now clean. Her gratitude knows no bounds and her love is beyond measure, for she was forgiven of much’” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:265).
The following are some principles we can learn from this account: As we exercise our faith by showing our love and devotion to the Lord, we can experience His forgiveness, and as we receive the Lord’s forgiveness, we are filled with the desire to love and serve Him even more.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified of the love and forgiveness available to all of us:
“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).
Complete one or both of the following assignments in your scripture study journal:
Think of a time when you experienced the Lord’s forgiveness. Without disclosing a very personal event that required the Lord’s forgiveness, write about your thoughts and feelings for the Savior.
Use what you have learned from your study of Luke 7 to write how you would answer friends who wonder whether they can be forgiven for their sins.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Luke 7:18–50 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: