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 Prepared by Mary Jo Bowman
December 2006 for Term Project on Luke-Acts

Stories of Women in Luke’s Gospel

Bible Studies
created for conversation with a young woman
about women’s encounters with Jesus
and the Gospel
Written by Mary Jo Bowman

 

1. Mary, the mother of Jesus Luke 1:26-56

2. The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet Luke 7:36-50

3. The woman who touched Jesus Luke 8:43-48

4. The crippled woman who Jesus heals Luke 13: 10-17

5. Martha and Mary: Friends of Jesus Luke 10:38-42

 

Stories of Women in Luke’s Gospels
Introduction

 I outlined these Bible studies with the intent to share them in conversation with a young woman—18 year old, senior in high school--for whom I have been a mentor for several years. We meet about twice a month for conversation about Christian practices. She has requested that I assist her in learning how to study the Bible, as she does not have much opportunity for this in her small congregation.

I chose the focus on women because of who she is as a young adult, a baptized, growing Christian who will soon be going off to college. I want her to know that the Bible, whose main characters are mostly male, also includes women in a significant way. Luke is particularly strong in this regard, which goes along with his attention to others who are considered lowly in society.

These studies use an inductive format, focusing first on the particular story of encounter with Jesus. Each study then moves to look at the story’s larger context-- in Luke’s gospel, sometimes in Acts, and/or the Old Testament. When appropriate, parallel texts from other gospels may be explored. Each session also includes questions about the big picture of who Jesus is and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Near the end of each session, there are questions about what was learned, what questions still remain, and how these issues might be explored further. And finally, each session ends with prayer—with the intent of integrating head and heart, and introducing/exploring various modes of prayer.

My hope is that this study will provide opportunities for encountering Jesus in new ways, and strengthen those who use it in commitment to following Jesus, stimulate interest in Bible study, and give fresh perspective on exploring the message of the Gospel.

What I have prepared here is meant to conversational and evocative. While this outline was created for one-one-one study, and includes notes for the discussion leader, it could certainly be used and adapted as needed for small group study.

Stories of Women in Luke’s Gospel
Study # 1 Mary, the mother of Jesus - Luke 1:26-56

 1. Who is Mary?

What does this story tell us about her?

(in comparison to Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary has no outstanding credentials:education, social standing, family connections, education)

2. What do notice about the visit of the angel and Mary’s response?

What are Mary’s questions? (vs. 29, 34)

What do you imagine she might be thinking?

(Why me? Stigma of pregnancy, Joseph’s response)

How do you understand the angel’s message to Mary?

(power of the Most High, Holy Spirit, Son of God)

Compare Mary’s experience with the angel with that of Zechariah and Elizabeth.(Luke 1:5-24)

What else do we learn about Mary in the next chapter of Luke?

In the rest of Luke’s Gospel?

Note: After Luke 2, Mary the mother of Jesus is mentioned only one other place in Luke, in 8:19-21, with parallels in Matt. 12:45-50, Mark 3:31-35) For references in other Gospels, see Matt 1:16-2:21, 13:55 (parallel Mark 6:3), John 2:1-12, 19:25-27, and possibly Mark 15:40, 47 (mother of Joses)

3. Read Mary’s song (vs. 46-55) aloud.

What does this song tell you about Mary?

How does she describe herself in verses 47-49?

About who God is? And what God is doing?

About Luke’s message about Jesus?

justice, fulfillment of God’s promise, upside-down kingdom

You might want to compare Mary’s story/ song with Hannah’s story/song in 1 Samuel 1- 2:1-10.

What other Bible stories of women and unusual births can you identify?(Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 17)

4. What new insights did you gain from this study?

 What questions does this passage raise for you?

 How might you explore further?

5. Closing Prayer: Magnificat -

Read or sing HWB 181 “My soul proclaims with wonder or SJ 13 “My soul is filled with joy”

 

Stories of Women in Luke’s Gospel
Study #2 The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet - Luke 7:36-50

1. Who is this woman? (How is she described? What does she do?)

Note: this story has some similarities with stories in other gospels about women anointing Jesus, but is also unique. See Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8 and note differences. (Different hosts, place, type of anointing, name of woman, placement of story in relation to Jesus’ death.)

2. Who is Simon?

Who are Pharisees? righteous, law-abiding, religious:

see 5:17-26 scribes and Pharisees question Jesus
6:1-11 sabbath conflicts
7:30 Pharisees reject God’s purposes
11:37-54 Jesus denounces Pharisees
12:1-3 warning against hypocrisy
18:9-14 parable of Pharisee and tax collector

Note that this is first of three means Jesus takes in home of Pharisee: (also 11:37-54, 14:1-24)

 

3. What is Jesus’ message to Simon? (vs. 40-47) “Do you see this woman?”

In what way does this story reinforce Jesus’ teachings about mercy and forgivness in the “sermon on the plain”? (6:17-49)

4. What is Jesus’ message to the woman?

5. What does this story tell us about Jesus’ attitude toward sinners? Social boundaries? (see 7:34, 15:1-2, 19:2)

Who are tax collectors?

(employees of Roman oppressors, often extortionists, hated by common people)

6. What does this story tell us about God’s forgiveness?

7. What does this story tell us about qualifications of followers/lovers of Jesus?

According to Hendrickx, Jesus sees this woman as a model disciple.2 Note Luke 8:1-3 re: women with Jesus.

8. What new insights did you gain from this study?

 What questions does this passage raise for you?

 How might you explore further?

9. Closing Prayer: Teach and repeat Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sing: SJ 47 “Oh, Lord have mercy”

Stories of Women in Luke’s Gospel
Study # 3 The woman who touched Jesus - Luke 8:43-48

1. Who is this woman? (Note similar stories in Matt. 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43)

 In our society, what conditions/situations would be parallel to hers?

(HIV/AIDS, undiagnosed/invisible illnesses)

 2. Read the verses that surround this story (40-42, 49-56).
Compare and contrast this woman with Jairus’ daughter.

 3. What do you notice about Jesus in this story?

What does Jesus say to the woman?

(notice connection between faith, healing, and peace)

 What do you imagine this meant for her? (social implications of healing ministry)

 Note: other healing stories in Luke, which will be explored in next study: 4:31-27 unclean spirit, 4:38-40 fever, 5:12-16 leper, 5:17-26 paralytic, 7:1-9 centurion’s son, 7:11-17 widow’s son, 8:26-39 demoniac, 9:37-43 boy with demon, 13:10-17 crippled woman, 14:1-6 man with dropsy, on Sabbath, 17:11-19 ten lepers

 4. Using your imagination, write this story from the woman’s perspective, in her voice, as if she is telling it to her family and friends afterwards. Then write a prayer you imagine she might pray.

 5. What new insights did you gain from this study?

What questions does this passage raise for you?

 How might you explore further?

 6. Closing prayer: Share the prayers that you are inspired to write from this story.

 Note: This passage lends itself well to use as Lectio Divina, especially after study of the social barriers crossed in this passage.

Stories of Women in Luke’s Gospel
Study # 4 The crippled woman who Jesus heals - Luke 13: 10-17

1. Who is this woman?

2. What does Jesus say to her? Do for her?

Note other healing stories in Luke:

Who are these people? (social status, gender, religion, etc)

Of what are they healed? How? (words, touch, help of others)

What is the effect?

How do they and those around them respond?

What key words do you notice?

3. Read Luke 4:14-21

What are the themes here?

What does this tell us about the mission of Jesus?

How does this connect with what we have been studying?

(Perhaps discuss how the people of Nazareth responded to Jesus.)

4. How does the leader of the synagogue respond to Jesus in Luke 13:14?

What is Jesus’ reply?
What does this tell us about Jesus’ priorities?
What does this imply about the work of the church today?

5. What new insights did you gain from this study?

What questions does this passage raise for you?

How might you explore further?

6. Closing Prayer: Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Stories of Women in Luke’s Gospel
Study # 5 Martha and Mary: Friends of Jesus - Luke 10:38-42

1. What do you notice about Martha’s relationship with Jesus?

 Mary’s relationship with Jesus?
(friends, provide him hospitality)

 2. Who do you identify with in this story?

If Jesus stopped by to see you, what to you think would happen?

 3. How does the story that precedes this (Good Samaritan) and what follows (teaching about prayer) affect how you view the relative values of serving and listening?

 What does your congregation emphasize?

 In what ways to Martha and Mary complement each other, need each other?

 4. Read Luke 22: 24-27. What does this passage tell us about discipleship?

 5. What does Luke tell us about the role of women as Jesus’ followers and participants in the early church?

See Luke 8:2-3
Luke 23:55-56
Luke 24:22-24
Acts 9:36-39 Tabitha
Acts 16:14-15 Lydia
Acts 18:2-3,18 Priscilla  

6. What new insights did you gain from this study?

What questions does this passage raise for you?

How might you explore further?

7. Closing Prayer

 Experiment with two forms of “embodied prayer.”

 1. Rub your partner’s shoulders while you pray for them, silently or aloud.

 2. Kneel and have a silent conversation with Jesus: give thanks, confess struggles, ask for help, express questions.

Bibliography

Craddock, Fred B. Luke. Edited by James Luther Mays, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990.

 Hendrickx, Herman. The Third Gospel for the Third World: Volume One. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996.

Hendrickx, Herman. The Third Gospel for the Third World: Volume Two-B. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998.

Hendrickx, Herman. The Third Gospel for the Third World: Volume Three-A. Quezon City, Philippines: Claretian Publications, 2000.

Longenecker, Dan. "Six Healthy Ways Too Use the Bible." The Mennonite November 7, 2006: 14-15. A helpful background resource.

Reid, Barbara E. Choosing the Better Part? Women in the Gospel of Luke. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996.

Endnotes

Herman Hendrickx, The Third Gospel for the Third World: Volume One (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996), 73.

In the ancient custom of betrothal, marriages were arranged by parents, and involving the whole village. “Marriage contracts required extensive negotiation in order to ensure that families of equal status were being joined and that neither took advantage of the other…Jewish matrimonial procedure consisted of two steps: a formal exchange of consent before witnesses and the subsequent taking of the bride to the groom’s family home… The consent, usually entered into when the girl was twelve or thirteen years old, would constitute a legally ratified marriage in our terms, since it gave the young man rights over the girl…Yet the wife continued to live at her own family home, usually for about a year…Joseph and Mary are between the two steps.”

Herman Hendrickx, The Third Gospel for the Third World: Volume Two-B (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998), 90.

 Barbara E. Reid, Choosing the Better Part? Women in the Gospel of Luke (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996), 139.

“An audience that knew this law could well imagine the hemorrhaging woman’s aloneness. If she were married she would not have been able to have relations with her husband or to carry out any of her domestic duties for him or her family without making them unclean. Everything she touched—furniture, cooking utensils, clothing—would be rendered unclean. If she had children, she would not have been able to cradle and fondle them without passing on to them her impurity. Her friends and associates would likewise keep their distance from her.”