Luke 7:36-8:15 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Your Faith Has Saved You
Comments for Study 15

Luke 7:36-8:15
Memory Verse: 7:50


I. Jesus Welcomes a Sinful Woman (36-50)

>1. What was Jesus doing?

* Luke 7:36 "Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table."

* "Now" -The timing is not noted by Luke.

* Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, and John 12:1-8 also record a woman anointing Jesus with oil, though at the end of his ministry. That event is not the same as the one recorded here by Luke. There are to many differences for anyone to believe otherwise.

* "one of the Pharisees" -According to verse 40 his name was Simon, a very common name at that time. Many of his fellow Pharisees had been offended by Jesus. (Luke 5:17, 21, 30, 6:2, 7) Luke 7:30 states that they "rejected God's purpose for themselves."

* "invited Jesus to have dinner with him" -Luke does not tell us why the Pharisee invited Jesus to his house. We can only speculate. Perhaps he wanted to believe in Jesus (though unlikely because of Jesus' words about him in this account). Perhaps he was hoping to trap Jesus (though we are not told of any trap). Perhaps he wanted to gain from Jesus' popularity. Perhaps he wanted to honor Jesus. Perhaps he felt he owed Jesus' something (unlikely). These are all speculation. His reasons for invited Jesus is really not important to the meaning Luke reporting this event to us. Through this event we are learn, among other things how to receive and honor Jesus.

* "invited Jesus" -Luke does not say if the disciples were also invited, but it seems they weren't because they aren't mentioned. Perhaps Luke doesn't mention them because Jesus was the guest of honor and his disciples would be allowed to be there as any walk-in from the street was.

* "so he went to the Pharisee's house" -Jesus was truely diverse in who he accepted invitations from to eat at their homes. Luke 5:29 records he accepted Levi's (Matthew) invitation though a tax collector who invited his "sinner" friends.

* "Pharisee's house" -Pharisee were wealthy compared to the average Jew of the time. Their houses would have several rooms and an outer gated courtyard where guest would be received. It can be assumed that this event took place in the outer gated courtyard.

* "reclined at the table" -The tables in those days were short, to short to put one's legs under. When it was time to dine the patrons would sit on cushions scattered around the table with their feet out behind them. Either they leaned on their left elbows or on rare occasions, against the sides of the person behind to them. (John 13:25) Their faces were to the table and they reached for food and drink with their right hand. The sandals would have been removed when they entered the dwelling.

* The meal was a social occasion since guests were invited. According to custom patrons and visitors were allowed and welcomed to enter and exit at will. Such occasions were for an honored guest, Jesus in this case.

Ancient Alabastron Jar

* The alabaster jar to the right is from Israel dating 300 BC to 100 BC. This exquisite jar was probably created to hold ointments, unguents or perfumes. Even empty, it seems to glow with an inner light, the essence of something rare and wonderful.

>What happened?

* Luke 7:37-38 "When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."

* "learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house" -She was not directly invited and would not have been with her reputation. Normally she would have not wanted to come because of how she would have been received. Social occasions at anyone's house allowed for anyone to come to the event to see and hear what was going on.

* "she brought an alabaster jar of perfume" -Alabaster is a dense translucent, white or tinted (yellowish pink or yellowish grey) fine-grained gypsum, a variety of hard calcite. Even in early Biblical times it was used to make cups, jars, and fine art pieces.

* "perfume" -Someone has suggested that perfume was used as a sort of diary without any documented proof that such practices existed at that time. Another calls this an ointment incorrectly. The original Greek word means scented or perfumed oil. Good perfume was as expensive then as it is now. Perhaps it was worth a years wages as Mary's was. (John 12:5)

Jewish ladies commonly wore a perfume flask suspended from a cord round the neck, and it was so much a part of them that they were allowed to wear it on the Sabbath according to Sabbatical rules. The extensive use of perfumes may be gathered from the fact that the Sages allotted a certain woman an allowance of 400 gold coins for perfume. (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries -Luke)

* "as she stood behind him at his feet weeping" -We are not told what she intended to do when she decided to go to the house where Jesus was eating. Some suggest that she intended to anoint his head as was the custom for kings, priests, and anyone in a honorable position. Moses anointed Aaron (Exodus 30:30), Samuel anointed King Saul (1 Samuel 9:16, 10:1) and David (1 Samuel 16:13), Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon (1 Kings 1:34, 39), and Elisha also anointed kings (1 King 19:15-16). Each time the oil was poured on their heads. However, we are not told this. It's speculation based on what Jesus said when Mary later poured oil on his head. Since it is well document that such perfumed oils were common accompaniments of festive occasions, she may have not intended to do anything. Rather, when she heard Jesus was there she may just have wanted to come and hear him. Then, when she arrived the events unfolded naturally out of her love and emotions rather than having planned the whole thing.

* "she began to wet his feet with her tears." -Apparently her emotions overcame her when she finally arrived and saw Jesus. Perhaps it was in God's will to use the perfume on his feet, for this was not the time for Jesus to be anointed on his head. That was done by Mary just before he was crucified and died (Recorded in the other three gospels.)

* Jesus had taught, "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." (Luke 6:21b)

* "Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." -Hair is a woman's beauty and glory. (1 Corinthians 11:15) Jewish ladies of the time kept their hair bond in public. She kissed his feet in humility for the task of caring for the feet was given to slaves and servants. The cost of the perfume was not an issue.

* She had been used and yet despised by men. Jesus was different. Jesus is the only true gentlemen for all women of all ages. Her past found no true object of love. Then she met Jesus.

>Who was the woman?

* "a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town" -Luke does not record her name. Luke understood that all are sinners, not just this woman and a few others. Rather, he is using gentle words to say she was a known prostitute or adulterous. The only time Luke uses the word prostitute was when recording Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, specifically his brother's words. (Luke 15:30)

* "in that town" -The town is not named, perhaps to conceal her identity.

* She clearly had known of Jesus before this event.

* Jesus, as Messiah was relaxed and comfortable with this woman's actions, an average man of the world would have thought sinful thoughts about her.

Jesus' Feet Anointed by a Woman

* The painting to the right is by William Hole, 1846-1917. Though he depicts Jewish garments inaccurate for Jesus' time, his artwork is very colorful and masterly done.

>Why did the Pharisee criticize Jesus in his heart?

* Luke 7:39 "When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is--that she is a sinner."

* "the Pharisee who had invited him saw this" -The actions of the woman of ill report.

* "If this man were a prophet" -Perhaps this man was wondering if Jesus was a prophet because some were calling him a prophet and because of all the miracles he was performing. (Matthew 16:14) Yet, he remained sceptical as his thoughts here show. There is even a hint in his thoughts that he was looking for a reason not to believe and say Jesus was not a prophet.

* "he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is" -The Holy Spirit enabled the prophets at times to know secret and hidden things including people's past, future, and thoughts. (1 Samuel 9:15; and 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 4:27, 8:10; Job 12:22) The gospels often tell us that Jesus knew all things without being told. (John 16:30-31)

Simon's basic theology here was not wrong, his perspective was wrong. He knew some things correctly, but not other things. Truth incorrectly applied can be more destructive than absurdity embraced.

Simon didn't know or understand God's grace and love in his life and the lives of others. Simon was not aware, or at least didn't accept his own sinfulness, and thus wasn't thankful towards God in the most important way. Simon didn't know how to reflect the love of God. So Simon remained spiritually blind and ignorant.

>What does it reveal about him?

* "touching him... a sinner" -The base Hebrew word for Pharisee means "separated" and "separatist". The Pharisees believed that uncleanliness before God only came from the outside; others, objects, and even words. So they separated themselves from anything and anyone that would make them unclean. They did not understand that from the heart comes uncleanliness (sin) and it can only be cleansed by God, the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 73:7; Proverbs 16:1-2; Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:18; and 1 Corinthians 4:5; and 1 Timothy 1:5)

* "that she is a sinner" -The Pharisee saw this woman from her past not from her present. He knew of her past sin and not her present broken and filled soul. He did not know that her past brought her pain and she was grateful to Jesus for taking the pain away. He knew her past shame and did not recognize her boldness now.

>2. What did Jesus teach?

* Luke 7:40-42 "Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

* "Simon" -Jesus called him by name. Jesus respected the man, even though the man didn't give respect to the woman or Jesus. Jesus respected him enough to gently teach him where his theology was incorrect.

* Jesus didn't condemn Simon, he tried to help him.

* "Tell me, teacher" -His words are polite but not promising. "Teacher" here in the original Greek is "didaskalos" meaning master, teacher, and doctor.

* Jesus is going to show Simon that Jesus not only knew what sort of woman she was labeled as, but that he also knew Simon's thoughts, heart and past. This teaching addresses several of Simon's objections about Jesus including that Jesus didn't know hidden things. After this encounter Simon would have no excuse to reject Jesus as a prophet, and more than a prophet.

* Jesus' rebuke was gentle. He didn't yell and scream at him.

* "denarii" -A denarii was about a days wages. (Matthew 20:2) It's one of the most common found Roman coin.


* The coin to the right is a early Roman Republic denarii.

>Why did Jesus ask such questions?

* "Now which of them will love him more?" -God asks us questions to make us think and come to the right conclusion. Later, we cannot say, "I don't know, I didn't understand, I wasn't capable of understanding, etc." More than this God gives us the chance to make the right conclusion and repent.

* Those who are forgiven more, will love more because they clearly understand and accept God's love. Committing one sin has the same result as many, separation from God. However, the closer we come to the one and only holy God, the more our sins are exposed and the more his grace and mercy is understood. The greater the recognized grace and mercy, the closer to God. The closer to God, the more we are in awe of him. The more we draw close to God, the more he will draw close to us. (John 12:32; Hebrews 7:18-19, 10:22)

* Jesus' question shows how God saves and forgives all. The woman understood and accepted her sins and God's forgiveness through Jesus. This she revealed in her tears and action. Simon did not have easily recognized sin and he was self righteous. A self righteous person has no need for God, his love, grace, and mercy. The self righteous are proud and thus miss out on experiencing God and his greatness; humility in spite of everything and anything to really be proud about.

* Jesus' question revealed the grace of God and a repentant heart was blessed.

* Jesus' question gave Simon a chance to understand the woman and himself.

* Jesus' question enables us to realize all are God's.

* Jesus' question teaches us the way and heart of God.

* Asking and answering questions during Bible study helps us accept the truth ourselves.

>How did Simon answer?

* Luke 7:43 "Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said."

* "I suppose" -These two word show that Simon wasn't willing to accept the truth because he was afraid of the implications. He begrudgingly acknowledge Jesus was right. Later, the Pharisees wouldn't answer Jesus' questions. They did want to publicly admit that they are wrong and he was right. (Matthew 21:25-27, 22:46; Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40) The word of God is powerfully. Anyone who hears them will respond one way or another; reject or accept. Accepting the truth is not as easy at all. It can be one of the hardest things a person does. How do you respond to Jesus' words of truth?

* "You have judged correctly" -Jesus complimented more than he rebuked. Good education rewards correct answers and behavior, while at the same time recognizing and eliminating incorrect answers and behavior. Jesus never ignored both. Most modern education do.

* Speaking is a good step in recognizing and accepting truths. Romans 10:8-10 states, "But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

* Jesus continued with a gentle public challenge to Simon. He didn't become aggressive with something like, "Pretty lame acceptance there Simon. Still it's better than being wrong. So Simon, now's your chance to accept and repent. Come on, you just publicly admitted the truth about the parable. Now say to everyone here you were wrong about this woman and me. Come on. Don't be a coward. Speak up man." Why? Because he is gentle and humble.

>What did this parable show about Jesus' understanding of the woman and his grace? (44-47)

* Luke 7:44-47 "Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

* "Then he turned toward the woman" -Simon must have been sitted opposite or near opposite Jesus and the woman behind Jesus.

* "Do you see this woman" -Simon had not taken proper notice of the woman. Jesus had to draw Simon's attention to her in a proper way.

* Jesus was obviously the guest of honor. Guests of honor was paid special attention, let alone everyone else. Simon invited Jesus in, but he did not give him the respect due him. Often people reluctantly accept Jesus into a part of their lives, but do not give him the honor due him. Are you a Pharisee Simon or a Simon Peter?

* "water for my feet" -People wore open sandals in that society at that time. The feet would became dirty because most paths and roads were dirt. Only the Roman built roads were covered with stones. When entering a house the sandals were taken off and the feet were cleaned with water. Simon did not have water available for Jesus and his disciples to wash their feet.

* "kiss" -A peck on the cheek was part of greeting a friend. (Luke 22:48)

* "put oil on my head" -Not a healing ointment, but part of hygiene at that time.

* Three common courtesies of the time were violated, thus showing that Simon let Jesus in his house without letting Jesus in his heart. Examine yourself. How do you treate him in your heart? Do you commune with him at a comfortable distance, or with all of you intimately?

* Isaiah 65:2-5 "All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations-- a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat; who say, 'Keep away; don't come near me, for I am too sacred for you!' Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day."

* The woman looked up to Jesus. Simon looked down on Jesus. Jesus saw them both the same, sinners needing forgiveness. Only one responded properly.

>3. Why were the people at the dinner party so surprised when Jesus said, "Your sins are forgiven"?

* Luke 7:48-49 "Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"

* The responses here stands in contrast as Jesus pointed out in the previous section. (Luke 7:29-30)

* "Your sins are forgiven." - According to the Luke this is the second time that Jesus publicly forgave someone their sins. The first was when he healed the paralytic who was lowered from the roof. (Luke 5:20) The reaction both times was the same, shock. See the commentary for that study for more.

* "other guests" -Those invited, not the average person who would have walked in (per custom). We can conclude that many were religious and social leaders.

* "Who is this who even forgives sins?" -Meaning they believed a mere man as Jesus appeared to be, would not have the authority to forgive sins. They did not understand who he was, the Messiah. Nor did they understand the authority the Messiah has. This incorrect understanding Jesus tried to correct when he healed the paralytic who was lowered from the roof. Understanding who Jesus is makes the Bible understandable.

>What did Jesus teach about the relationship between love and forgiveness? (50)

* Luke 7:50 "Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

* Those who love Jesus are forgiven. Those who accept truth are forgiven.

* Humility is a sign of love.

* God forgives our heart attitude not the amount, great or small, of sin that God forgives.

* 1 John 4:19 states, "We love because he first loved us."

* The awareness of our sinful state is needed for sins to be forgiven. The recognition that we can't save ourself is also needed. Asking for forgiveness is needed. Thankfulness and respect are needed next. Living in and expressing the love we were shown is a natural outcome of God's forgiveness.

* Jesus publicly forgave her sins in response to her public display of love towards him. Through his words some would accept her into Jewish society on equal status as them.

* Jesus defended her and her actions.

>What did he mean by, "Your faith has saved you" and "Go in peace"?

* "Your faith has saved you" -Our response to Jesus determines our eternal state. Rejecting Jesus is not Jesus' fault. Our eternal state rests with ourselves. Responses of faith, hope and love towards Jesus saves us from sin and death. (Romans 1:17, 3:28, 4:13, 5:2, 9:30-32, 10:6-7; Galatians 5:5; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 3:9)

* I can imagine how she felt when she heard Jesus' words, "Your faith has saved you.". She did not know that Jesus spoke this parable because of Simon's thoughts. But she would have understood that she was the one with many sins. Later, with thinking about the parable she would understand why Jesus said it.

* Jesus loves to forgive sinners. But he will only forgive sins if your attitude is correct when we come to him. God wants to have an eternal mutually loving relationship with us. Cleansing our sin is needed for us to be joined with a holy God. Cleansing comes only when God forgives our sins.

* Her earlier actions towards Jesus revealed that she already had experienced God's forgiveness. Jesus was only stating the truth of what had already taken place. He did this for her, for Simon, for all in attendance, and for us.

* Jesus revealed that he is more than a prophet to Simon and all who attended.

* The more we express sorrow for our sins and our love for Jesus, the clearer the forgiveness and grace we experience. The forgiveness the woman had experience was not expressed verbally.

* "Go in peace" -Peace with and of God.

II. The Good News of the Kingdom of God (8:1-15)

Jesus' Mid-Ministry Travels

>4. What did Jesus proclaim as he travelled about from one village and town to another?

* Luke 8:1a "After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God."

* "After this" -The sequential order remains, but the exact timing is not revealed.

* "Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another" -Although we are not told what territory Jesus was traveling in, it is assumed he remained mainly in Galilee at this time.

* "the good news of the kingdom of God." -The original Greek is "euanelizo basieia Theos"

>What is the significance of his message?

* The following is a quote from the manuscript, "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires". The definitions of which goes beyond the small section that was added here. Other sections from the manuscript can be found in earlier Luke commentaries.

"Jesus is the Majestic Prophet Priest King. His kingdom is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God should be no small topic for those who belong to it. The phrase the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven is repeated almost three hundred times in both Old and New Testaments. It is referred to 1,845 times in the Old Testament. Many of Jesus parables concern the Kingdom of God. Jesus stated that he preached the good news of the Kingdom of God” from town to town. (Luke 4:43, 8:1, 9:11) Jesus sent out his disciples to preach about the Kingdom of God. (Luke 9:1) Jesus often told people, “The Kingdom of God is near you,” or at least something similar to it. (Matt. 12:28, Mark 1:15, Mark 12:34, Luke 10:9, 11, 20) When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, the second subject (after honoring God our Father) he told them to pray for was The Kingdom of God. “Thy kingdom come,” he taught his disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

"The question is often raised, or at least should be raised; what is Jesus asking us to pray about? What was Jesus referring to when he spoke of the Kingdom of God? Is it a real place? Is it in this world? Is it the church (congregation of Jesus)? Is it in heaven or is it heaven itself? Is it something yet to come? Is it some mystical realm in another dimension? Will it be on the moon or some other planet in a galaxy far away? Is it the same as the Kingdom of Heaven? Sadly most today including many modern Christians have either no idea or the wrong idea of the Kingdom of God (aka Kingdom of Heaven) because most, including modern believers seldom take time to think about the Kingdom of God let alone talk about it and study what the Bible has to say about it.

"The definition of the Kingdom of God is simple and complex. The simplicity of it is that any kingdom is where a king has complete and unquestionable control and authority. Still, those of us under modern day governments cannot have a complete understanding of this type of kingship. Most modern day governments allow its citizens to have freedom to own land and a home and freedom to choose where we will live and what we will do. This is not so with kingdoms of the past and even some kingdoms today..."

PLEASE read the manuscript for further explanation and description of The Kingdom of God.

>5. Who travelled with him?

* Luke 8:1b-3 "The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means."

* "The Twelve were with him" -Jesus called them the apostles meaning "sent". (Mark 3:14) They were the inner circle, the one's Jesus gave the most attention. From Jesus we can learn that teachers (rabbis) should concentrate on a few while not neglecting everyone else. Twelve should be the maximum even the best teachers should instruct. Today's modern class size of twenty or more is unproductive and unwise. Why do city and school systems spend millions teaching and promoting sports and so little on education? If you respond, "Sports are education too," you still can't deny the unbalanced spending of money for sports verses all other education in modern society.

* "some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases" -Luke's gospel mentions women more than the three other gospels. His companion book, Acts of the Apostles also contains a lot of information about about women of faith.

* "Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out" -Magdala was not her last name. It was an important agricultural, fishing, and trade center of ancient Galilee. Mark 16:9 and Luke 8:2 indicate that this Mary, from Magdala, was exorcised of some seven demons. In antiquity, demon possession was an indication of physical or spiritual illness; obviously, Mary Magdalene was quite ill before her encounter with Jesus. Mary eventually became part of an inner circle of supporters of Jesus. She was a witness of His crucifixion (Mark 15:40; Matt. 27:56; John 19:25), burial (Mark 15:47; Matt. 27:61), the empty tomb (Mark 16:18; Matt. 28:1-10; Luke 24:10), and she was a witness of Jesus' resurrection (Mark 16:9; John 20:1-18). A tradition, especially prevalent in western Christianity from about A.D. 500 onward, identified Mary Magdalene with the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50. The text gives no reason for such an association, as the introduction of Mary in Luke 8 is quite removed topically from Luke 7:36. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

Mary Magdelene Repentant

* The wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right is one strangest Biblical themed one I've encountered. It depicts Mary Magdalene repentant. The Bibles that this was in placed it next to these verses.

* "Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household" -Joanna is a personal name meaning, “Yahweh’s gift.” Luke 24:10 also mentions her. She was one of the women who came to Jesus' tomb on the Sunday following the crucifixion and reported to the eleven the message that He had risen.

* "Susanna" -Susanna is a personal name meaning, lily.” She is only named here.

* "many others" -Many women travelled with Jesus. Rabbis in those days would not have women disciples. Jesus broke with tradition and taught women too. Many modern religions and societies still forbid women from the same educational systems as men.

* This community of people was surrounded around Jesus. They had little in common, except it is believed that all were Jews.

>How did they support Jesus' ministry?

* "These women were helping to support them out of their own means."

* "own means" -Financially and practically.

* Jesus accepted and needed help from others during his earthly ministry.

* Jesus would have been the only Pharisee to have women travelling with him. Having women following him went against the culture of the day.

* A proud man would have difficulty accepting help from women. Jesus instead welcomed them as co-workers.

* This community of people were surrounded and joined together by Jesus.

>To whom did Jesus tell his parable?

* Luke 8:4 "While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:"

* "While a large crowd was gathering" -Understanding what caused Jesus to tell this parable is important. It helps understanding its meaning and message.

* "people were coming to Jesus from town after town" -They came to him. They didn't wait for him to come to them.

* "he told this parable" -The parable is both an explanation and and example.

* The parable was meant for everyone to hear, not just his disciples.

* "parable" -A parable is a story taken from real and ordinary life to illustrate and explain a spiritual truth and principle. Another definition is, "a continued comparison or similitude by which spiritual or heavenly things were described in language borrowed from the things of this life." A parable can be as short as one sentence or a whole book.

Often the prophets used parables. (Hosea 12:10) Even though Jesus used parables to make heavenly things easier to understand the religious leaders still did not understand. (John 3:12) Jesus proclaimed new things in his parables. 1/3 of his teachings are in parables. Luke has the most parables. (Click here for a chart comparing Jesus' parables.) When studying parables it is important to not put to many meanings into every detail of the parable. They are usually generalizations with a single point and every detail meant to support are less significant or even have no meaning. It is very important to remember that parables are spiritual, not humanistic.

The common theme of Jesus' parables is the Kingdom of God (of heaven). There are four themes concerning the Kingdom of God:
    1) Coming of the Kingdom of God.
    2) Grace of the Kingdom of God.
    3) Men of the Kingdom of God.
    4) Crisis of the Kingdom of God.

For example; the theme of the parables in Luke 13 is the Kingdom of God as it will be between his first coming and his second coming. Jesus explains there about how it is planted, expands, grows, and its value. These truths are secrets that the prophets of the Old Testament did not know about and/or only saw glimpses of.

hand sowing seed

>What happened to the seed the farmer sowed?

* Luke 8:5-8 "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

* Jesus explained the starting and growth principles and nature of the kingdom of God with this parable. Jesus starts it. Some never sprout, others only for a short time, others grow but produce no fruit, and others produce much fruit.

* This parable is also in Matthew 13:1-23 and Mark 4:1-20. Matthew and Mark state that Jesus taught this while in a boat on the Sea of Galilee to the people on shore. Luke does not mention the area. All three accounts must be the same event because it is unlikely that the disciples would ask the meaning of this parable more than once; though it is possible that he taught it more than once.

* Many passages in the Bible, especially in the New Testament use this parable as a reference. Many expanded upon it. (Mark 4:26-32; Luke 13:19; John 12:24; and 1 Corinthians 3:6, 9:11, 15:37-38; and 2 Corinthians 15:38; and 1 Peter 1:23; and 1 John 3:9) This can be considered a basic need to understand and implement parable.

* "The path" -The path was the place where the farmer would walk as he scattered seed. Every spring he would walk on the same path. Over the years this ground was beaten down and hardened.

* "the birds came and eat it up" -Because the path was hard packed soil the seeds could not penetrate into it and could not germinate. The seeds were easy pickens for birds.

* "rocky places" -The rocky places in Palestine are not boulders. Rather, they are big flat rock slabs as large as a quarter of an acre (800 square millimetres). The slabs were impossible to move. So he would have to remember where they were so that he could avoid throwing seeds on them. Yet, in order to place seed on every good bit soil, some seeds would always end up on soil on these slabs of stone.

* "where it did not have much soil" -Rocky places in Palestine are often hid by one to two inches (25 to 50mm) of soil. Strong winds would deposit soil one day and then be take away another.

* "It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow" -Palestine receives most of its rain in the spring. This rain is enough to penetrates the ground enough to raise one season of good grains. Shallow soil over slabs of rock can retain water quite well since water cannot penetrate rock. Seeds germinate quick in this well watered soil, the first to spring up.

* "the plants were scorched" -The moisture in the shallow slab soil quickly dries up quickly in the hot Mideast sun. So the young plants quickly dry out and die.

* "they had no root" -Plant roots collect moisture and minerals. When water is close to the surface plants do not grow deep roots. When the water is deep the plant keeps growing roots until it reaches moisture, or until it dies.

* "some fell among thorns" -Farmers always work soil before seeds are scattered to gets rid of any unwanted plants and to aerates the soil. However, many seeds remian in the soil. The farmer cannot do anything about these unwanted seeds. They are always there and he does not know where they are at. All he can do is scatter his good seeds everywhere. Naturally when the good seeds grow so do the weeds.

* "which grew up and choked the plants -Grain plants need plenty of water and minerals to grow to maturity and produce seeds. When two plants are growing in the same area the water and minerals are shared. Most land in Palestine is not very rich in minerals nor does it get a lot of rain. So if weeds and grain compete for water and minerals neither grow seeds.

* "produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown" -God has set in each seed the ability to reproduce itself.

>Why did Jesus call out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear"?

* "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." -Jesus often repeated this phrase (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8, 14:35) and "listen" (Mark 4:3, 7:14; Luke 9:44; John 10:27), both meaning the same. Jesus was challenging them to do something. He wanted everyone to pay attention to what he was saying. He wanted them to think about his words. He wanted them to "digest" it. Then they needed to apply it to their lives. This shows the importance of meditating on and studying God's word.

* Teaching is how the farmer scatters the seed. Everyone has a choice to listen to it or reject it. Jesus said, "It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." (John 6:45-47)

* It could be said that 3/4 of the people who hear Jesus' word do not become fruitful in the end.

* Psalm 1:1-3 "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."

>6. Why did Jesus' disciples ask him the meaning of the parable?

* Luke 8:9 "His disciples asked him what this parable meant."

* "His disciples" -The word "disciple" is the most common word used to describe those who truly believe in and love Jesus. It is used nearly three hundreds times in the New Testament; with two hundred thirty-three (233) occurrences in the gospels and twenty-eight (28) in Acts. It is often used by the true believers when referring to themselves. Today, people use the words "Christian" and "church" in so many ways and referring to so much that it defines nearly nothing. The New Testament only has the word "Christian" in three places. (Acts 11:26, 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16) The two places it is found in Acts it is used by non-believers and in all three places it is used in a derogatory and general way. So even then "Christian" had little meaning to the true disciple of Jesus. The title "the Way" is used in Acts six times, referring to the true disciples (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 22:4, 24:14, 22) but only when non-believers are involved in the conversation. So "the Way" was not used amongst disciples as some now suggest. "Disciples" is clearly the most common way true believers and lovers of Jesus referred to themselves in the New Testament. So much so that dictionaries often state that one of the meanings of disciples is "A member of the disciples of Christ." A person can be a disciples of anybody for in general a disciples is one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another. And in general a disciple can be defined as an active adherent as of any movement or philosophy. But in context of Jesus it can only mean living with and in Jesus.

The Holman Bible Dictionary states, "The term disciple comes to us in English from a Latin root. Its basic meaning is learner or pupil.” The term is virtually absent from the Old Testament, though there are two related references (1 Chronicle 25:8; Isa. 8:16). In the Greek world the word disciple normally referred to an adherent of a particular teacher or religious/philosophical school. It was the task of the disciple to learn, study, and pass along the sayings and teachings of the master. In rabbinic Judaism the term disciple referred to one who was committed to the interpretations of Scripture and religious tradition given him by the master or rabbi. Through a process of learning which would include a set meeting time and such pedagogical methods as question and answer, instruction, repetition, and memorization, the disciple would become increasingly devoted to the master and the masters teachings. In time, the disciple would, likewise, pass on the traditions to others."

Jesus had a very different concept and plan for his disciples compared to other teachers (rabbis) of his time. The gospels give us a clear meaning of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It is a continuous developing relationship with our Lord. This parable shows who starts the relationship and how he does it.

* "asked him" -The disciples didn't understand the meaning of the parable and didn't pretend that they did. Yet, they wanted to. They had a learning mind. The disciples often asked Jesus about his parables, but not all the time.

>What did Jesus tell them about the special privileges of a disciple?

* Luke 8:10 "He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, "'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'"

* "He replied" -Jesus answered his disciples' question. He does not always answer questions in the way we want. Perhaps when the disciples asked their question, they believed that Jesus would see things their way and stop teaching in parables.

* "The knowledge" -Knowledge is not something to be feared, but sought. However, knowledge in itself does not always provoked understanding, and understanding does not always provoke wisdom.

* "of the secrets" -Even the prophets in the Old Testament looked hard to learn these things. They were only given glimpses of them.

* "has given to you" -All knowledge about the kingdom of heaven that Jesus' disciples have has been given to them by God. We do not acquire it on our own. Jesus' disciples can ask him questions anytime they wanted. Jesus didn't exclude them from things he knew. (Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21; John 17:6)

* "but not to them" -Jesus spoke in parables so that those chosen by God would have the truth. However, the children of the devil do not have it and it is kept from them.

* "Whoever has" -Bible study is meant to be a little understanding at a time. Quality is more important than quantity, especially in the beginning. This is not saying that quantity isn't good. In fact, Jesus says what we have will be added to; but in time. A lot of a bad thing is not good at all. Understanding a little at a time is good all the time.

* "will be given more, and he will have an abundance." -Those who want to know the truth of heaven, it will be made more plain to them and it will be made easier to understand. Those who want to know the secrets can understand them. If you are Jesus' disciple and don't understand the Bible dig it out more for Jesus promised he would reveal it to us. John 3:27 says, "given," meaning God gives the knowledge of the secrets by his discretion. God owes no man the secrets of the kingdom of God. (Rom. 11:35) And God gives the secrets to those who will use it wisely. The closer one is to Jesus the more secrets will be revealed to him or her.

* "Whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him." -Those who are willingly ignorant to hear the word, it will be harder to understand. Those who don't want to receive it cannot understand the secrets of the kingdom of God. God takes away from those who doesn't use nor desire to use the word wisely.


* "'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'"

* Luke quoted Jesus saying Isaiah 6:9. Luke does not add Isaiah 6:10 as Matthew and Mark do. Jesus' ministry had the same outcome as Isaiah's. The people's response was the same. They were resolved not to hear the word of God. Still a remnant accepted.

* "Though seeing they do not see" -This means that not only are they willingly ignorant, but they may see and prevented from being able to comprehend what they see. They are callused (hardened) by sensuality and senselessness. Many that Jesus had just spoken to were resolved not to hear the word of God.

Why don't people want to hear the truth? Why don't they want to understand it? Because they love the darkness rather than the light (John 3:19, and 2 Peter 3:5), and they fear that their sins may be exposed. (John 3:20)

* Jesus said this with a broken heart. In order to "see" and "hear" they needed to make a commitment to be with Jesus such as the disciples had made.

* The word of God is powerful, but its effect in a person's heart and life depends on the response to it. Jesus' disciples are serious about their relationship with Jesus. They have a serious attitude concerning the word of God. They think about the word of God and apply it in their life. When a disciple doesn't understand the word they ask questions and wait for God to answer their questions. Jesus' disciples' heart attitude makes them persistent and persevere. (15) Anyone can be a disciple of Jesus if they really want to be.

* Isaiah 6:10 continues, "otherwise you will... heal them". Jesus is not being pessimistic. He is just stating the fact so that the disciples would understand that God's kingdom is a history of more rejection than acceptance. Yet in spit of the rejection, God was still working in the hearts of people. God's kingdom is a history of advancement in the mist of rejection through faithful servants such as Isaiah.

* If people would turn (repent) they would be converted.

>7. What does the seed represent?

* Luke 8:11 "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God."

* "The seed is the word of God." -The seed is the word of God, the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus is the living word. The Bible is the written word. When the Lord speaks, the sound is the spoken word.

* The ground represents a world full of humans throughout all ages. The soil is a person's soul. Many things can be planted in our soul -heart and mind. Jesus is talking about the word of God being planted in our heart and mind much as seeds are planted in the soil.

Through using different soils Jesus teaches that the reception to the gospel depends on the receiver's heart attitude. He teaches of three bad soils and only one good soil; that is, three bad heart conditions and only one good heart condition. Only a few hearts will grow when the word is planted in them.

>How is this parable descriptive of Jesus' ministry?

* "A farmer went out to sow his seed."

* "A farmer" -Jesus describes himself as a farmer sowing seeds.

* "went out" -Jesus left heaven to give us his word. Every day he chose to teach people.

* "sow his seed" -By teaching Jesus was sowing. Seeds have potential to change and grow. Jesus sowed the word of God as his first importance for its a matter of life and death. We cannot be saved if we do not truly believe and believing means producing fruit.

* Anyone and everyone is given a chance to accept a loving and trusting relationship with God or reject it. Only a few people really accept Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

>What happens to those with hearts like a path?

* Luke 8:12 "Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved."

* "the devil" -Luke here uses "devil" while Matthew uses "evil one" and Mark uses "Satan". All refer to the same fallen angel.

* "the devil comes" -The devil and those who follow him do all they can to stop the word from growing. Soil people are easy pickings.

Birds Eating Seeds on Rock

* See picture of birds eating seeds on a slab of rock to the right.

>What is the consequences?

* "Those along the path" -Jesus' explanation of the path heart is interesting. He said, "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Why don't they understand it? Is the answer that Jesus gave above the reason? Yes, and more. These people are to busy to think about and apply Jesus' word. They have fixed ideas about Jesus, the Bible, and God. When approached with the truth they display bad attitudes. They don't understand because they blatantly don't take time to understand. They cannot blame God nor Satan. They are the ones who make their hearts hard. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and civil leaders (i.e. Herod and Pilot) are examples of the path soil.

* "so that they may not believe and be saved." -The process is hearing, believing, and then salvation.

>8. What happens to those whose hearts are like a rock?

* Luke 8:13 "Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away."

* "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places" -The path people appear promising, they appear to be the same as good soil. But in time the depth of their relationship with Jesus, their faith, and commitment is shown. They call themselves Christian, but have no cross and reject suffering with Christ. They want an easy life full of endless blessing. Under the surface their heart is hard, even harder than the people of the path soil heart. It is important to see that "he has no root". In other words their faith is shallow because it is not feed the water and minerals of prayer and studying the Bible. They eventually burn out and burn up. They believe they are saved, but they are not.

Trouble and persecution tears these people away. They are too emotional; they respond only on an emotional level. They leave because their emotions are change by events like trouble and persecution. Jesus here teaches that it is not whether the gospel makes us feel good as much as how deep it is planted that shows endurance.

Deep roots are possible in rocky areas through cracks in the rocks. Time is needed to find the cracks. Eventually a heart that is nourished with prayer and the word can crack and break up the rock, just as plants do to stone. With God nothing is impossible.

withered wheat

* See picture of withered wheat to the right.

>Why is the thin soil so deceptive?

* "receive the word with joy when they hear it" -Initial distinction between them and good soil is not possible. Even when they die the plant still look like wheat. But it is not alive.

>What causes rootless people to fall away?

* "in the time of testing they fall away" -They reject Jesus. The amount and type of rejection varies.

* "trouble and persecution" -2 Timothy 3:12 says, "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," 1 Peter 5:10 says, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." And Romans 5:1-5 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, [2] through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. [3] Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; [4] perseverance, character; and character, hope. [5] And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

>Why is perseverance in the time of testing so important? (1 Tim. 4:15-16; Heb. 10:35-38)

* 1 Timothy 4:15-16 "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

* Hebrews 10:35-38 "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."

* We must pass the test. Through testing we grow in our relationship with Jesus. All are tested with trials, troubles, and persecution.

>9. When the word of God falls on hearts like thorny soil what happens to it?

* Luke 8:14 "The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature."

* These people pay attention in their hearts to what happens in this world. In the world are things that make us worry and deceive. Thus they consider what happens in the world beyond God's control. They are double hearted and double minded. God can be pushed out of our hearts if we let it happen. Faith can be pushed out. Worrying is opposite of faith. Hope can be placed in other things then God and Jesus, even for a believe who has had the word of God planted in his or hers heart. Judas is an example of such a person. The rich young ruler who came to Jesus is also an example of the thorny soil heart. Like these two the thorny soil don't realize their problem(s). Like these two they think they love God, and may in their own way. But they are distant from Jesus. God is never quit in the present of their life and heart.

>What are thorns?

* "life's worries" -Worry is a lack of trust in God's love and good intentions for us.

* "riches" -Riches is trusting in something other than God for security and well being.

* "pleasures" -Pleasures is seeking fulfilment and peace in something other than God.

* These things take nutrition away from the word of God planted in our heart. In other words we concentrate on something else. The effect slowly fail to keep a plant from fulfilling it's purpose.

* A farmer plants seed with the intent to harvest a crop.

* "Unfruitful" -What is fruit? See Gal. 5:22-24; Mk. 4:32.

>10. What is a noble and good heart?

* Luke 8:15 "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."

* "a noble and good heart" -A noble and good heart is made in the image of God. They seek a love relationship with God and others. They seek to remain in God's will. They are serious about their relationship with God and so they study his word, pray, and live in God's will. They are free from sinful pollution. A tender heart trembles at the power of God. They are in awe of God. They enjoy His presence.

Sheaves of Wheat in Field

* See a picture of sheaves of wheat in a field to the right.

>How can we be good soil?

* "the seed that fell on good soil" -The good soil does not have the problems of the former three soils. They hear, understand, and produce unabated by anything. Thus, they labor with the word of God in the here and now. Those who are the good soil not only understand the message of the word, but they accept it as the final authority. Thus, the means of expanding the Kingdom of Heaven is the word of God.

Those of the good soil walk with God like Noah did, whom heard, understood and obeyed even in hard times. Like Noah they may not produce a cropped right away. Yet, eventually the crop comes.

Two types of fruit exist; one is internal another is external. With the growth of the internal, comes external fruit. With external fruit the internal fruit grows even more. I note that Jesus pointed out that some crops are a hundred yield, while others are sixty, and others thirty. Seeds do not have the same amount of producing power. Some are more, some are less.

* There are three steps here which are the opposite of the previous three kinds of soils:
    1) Hear the word. (They study it.)
    2) Accept it. (They apply it to their life.)
    3) Produce a crop. (They obey whole heartedly.)

* Increased greatly.

* If we accept them we do. Think: If you accept it you must apply it.

* The good soil heart is by God's grace alone.

>What kind of fruit do you think Jesus wants?

* Matthew 3:8 "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

* Matthew 7:20-21 "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

* John 15:2-4 "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."

* Romans 7:4-6 "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."

* Galatians 5:22-26 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."


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