Introduction: One morning this week I read an article reporting that
women are treated like animals in many places of the world. I don’t
personally know if that is true, but I am sure that in some places
now, and in Jesus’ time, women did not have equal status with men.
How did Jesus relate to women? What lessons can we learn for today?
Let’s jump into our study of Luke and find out!

  1. Anna

    1. Read Luke 2:36-37. When we studied the second chapter of
      Luke, we ended before we got to the story about Anna.
      Would you like to have been Anna? (She has real tragedy in
      her life, her husband dies seven years after they are
      married. She never remarries, and apparently never has any

      1. How would you react if this happened to you?

      2. How does Anna react? (She devotes her life to service
        to God.)

      3. How does God react to this woman’s devotion amid
        tragedy? (She was a prophetess, which means God spoke
        through her.)

    2. Read Luke 2:38. Who is “them” in this verse? (The context
      is Luke 2:25-34. “Them” is Mary, Joseph, Simeon and the
      baby Jesus.)

      1. How else does God reward Anna for her faithfulness?
        (She seems to have no children, but she is one of the
        very first to be introduced to the Son of God.)

      2. When I read in Luke 2:37 about Anna’s typical day, I
        am not anxious to trade jobs. How does Luke 2:38
        expand our understanding of her daily activities?
        (Her worship, fasting and praying involved telling
        those “looking forward to the redemption of
        Jerusalem” the good news about Jesus. Consider her
        job now. For those coming to the temple to sacrifice
        and worship, she teaches them that the fulfillment of
        the temple worship system has come!)

    3. Read Exodus 38:8. What does this suggest about the nature
      of Anna’s job? (Apparently, she held the traditional role
      of women who “served” at the entrance to the sanctuary.)

    4. Read 1 Timothy 2:12-13. On what does Paul base this
      teaching? (The creation account.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. What does this say about
      women in the church? (It says they cannot speak.)

      1. Do you know of any church that does not allow women
        to speak at all?

    6. One very important rule about understanding God’s will is
      that we must see what the entire Bible says on a subject,
      not just one or two verses. Look again at Luke 2:38. Is
      Anna acting contrary to the limitations in 1 Timothy and 1
      Corinthians? (Yes. “She never left the temple” – so her
      words took place in “church.” When she “spoke about the
      child to all … looking forward to the redemption” she
      was teaching visitors that Jesus was the Messiah. When
      Luke tells us that she was a prophetess, it means that God
      communicated through her. God approves of her activities,
      for He rewards her for her faithfulness.)

      1. Can Anna’s activities be reconciled with the
        teachings of Paul? (I’m a teacher who admits what he
        does not know. I’ve not yet worked this out, but I do
        think it is significant that in 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul
        says this is his personal practice (“I do not
        permit”). I’ve never been in a church where women
        were not allowed to speak at all, which suggests that
        no one in authority in my sphere reads 1 Corinthians
        14:34 as reflecting God’s will.)

  2. Mary and Martha

    1. Read Luke 10:38. What is Martha? (A homeowner. It must
      have been a sizable home to accommodate Jesus and the

    2. Read Luke 10:39-40. Does Martha have a fair request? (Why
      is Jesus the one to make this decision? I suppose it is
      because Mary is listening to Jesus, and it might be very
      impolite to tell her to stop listening.)

    3. Read Luke 10:41-42. Which would you be, Martha or Mary? (I
      fear that I would be Martha – getting things done.)

      1. What is Mary doing that is better? (Listening to

      2. The Martha in me says, “Would you still have the
        “only one thing is needed” attitude Jesus when it
        comes time to eat and nothing is prepared?”

      3. Let’s consider the wider lesson here. What do you
        think the culture suggested was the proper role for
        women? (Doing what Martha was doing.)

        1. What is Jesus saying the “better” role is for
          women? (Spiritual training.)

        2. Is this just a time-limited thing? Mary can get
          back to cooking and cleaning after Jesus

      4. What does this story teach those of us to tend to be
        like Martha? (Being worried and upset is not
        something that is “needed” in our life.)

  3. Women Philanthropists

    1. Read Luke 8:1-3. What has Jesus done for these women? (He
      healed them of whatever problem beset them. In addition,
      Jesus allows them to travel with Him.)

    2. Re-read Luke 8:3. Why do you think Luke mentions that the
      women were financially supporting Jesus and the disciples?
      (This shows the depth of their love and care for Jesus.
      They put their money where their hearts were. It also says
      something about Jesus and His male disciples who were
      willing to be supported by women.)

  4. Mary the Courtesan

    1. Read Luke 7:36. Jesus generally has problems with
      Pharisees. Why would a Pharisee invite Jesus to dinner?

    2. Read Luke 7:37-38. How did this woman get into the
      Pharisee’s home? (This suggests that it was a large home
      with a lot of people eating.)

      1. Why is this woman doing this? (It seems that Jesus
        has done something for her that has touched her
        heart. She cries when she thinks of what Jesus has
        done for her.)

    3. Read Luke 7:39. Would you notice this if you were Jesus?
      (Of course!)

      1. Gentlemen, how would you react if this happened to
        you? (If she were not crying, I would consider this
        kissing and touching to be a suggestion of a sexual

      2. How would you interpret the Pharisee’s thoughts:
        “what kind of woman” and “she is a sinner?” (Some
        commentators say that she is not a prostitute,
        because that conclusion is not required by the
        language. Since we are all sinners, I’m inclined to
        think this is not a comment about the general state
        of humanity, rather she had some sexual mistakes in
        her past. That, of course, fits with the idea that
        the Pharisee probably saw this as I would – an
        invitation of a sexual nature.)

      3. Read Matthew 26:7. What does this add to the debate
        about the nature of this woman’s approach? (She would
        not use “very expensive” perfume if this was a
        commercial transaction.)

    4. Read Luke 7:40-43. Would you give the same answer as Simon
      the Pharisee?

    5. Read Luke 7:44-47. Apply this to your church. Do those
      who have been “good” all of their life have less depth of
      emotion about the gospel and God? (I think this is true.)

      1. Notice an odd statement, Jesus says “her many sins
        have been forgiven – for she loved much.” Are sins
        forgiven based on our love? What about grace? (Jesus
        describes an attitude. I don’t think forgiveness is a
        matter of mere words, it is a matter of attitude.
        Jesus says this woman has great gratitude over being
        saved from her sins. That gratitude becomes love.)

        1. When you realize that God has forgiven some
          great sin of yours, does that increase your
          love for Jesus?

    6. Read Luke 7:48-50. Tell me about the contrast between this
      unnamed woman and Simon the Pharisee. Who is the real
      religious leader? Who is the one who is properly serving
      God? Who is being taught here?

    7. Friend, we can see from these stories that God values
      women. He honored Anna by bringing Jesus to her. God
      entrusted Anna with His message to temple visitors that
      Jesus has come. Jesus considered the religious education
      of Mary more important than ordinary work. Jesus used a
      sinful woman to teach an important lesson about love to a
      Pharisee. God uses women to teach! Will you study further
      regarding the role of women in ministry?

  5. Next week: Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Prayer.