I Beg You-Give Me Sanctuary!
Kerena was a midwife in a dusty little town in the Judean hills. She'd been called to Heleb's home to help her deliver her first child, and the signs were ominous. She had been in labor for many hours, and the child must be in deep distress.
Heleb's husband, Eleal, was frantic with worry. "Help her, Kerena," he kept saying.
"Pray, Eleal. I'm doing all I can." When the child was finally born and squalling lustily, Karena checked him very carefully. He seemed to be breathing well. He was bruised and angry, but his heart was beating strongly. He seemed to be none the worse for his long ordeal. She wrapped him in a warm blanket and laid him in the cradle. "Thank God, he’s fine. Now go comfort your wife."
Eleal's roar of pain and rage sent her hurrying back to Heleb's bedside. "Kerena! She's not breathing!"
"Not breathing? She was fine a minute ago," Kerena said. Then she saw Heleb's white face, and the great pool of blood she lay in. "Oh, she's hemorrhaged!" She bent to see what she could do, but it was far too late. Heleb was dead. "Oh, Eleal, I am so sorry. I did not know. Forgive me."
"You could have saved her?"
"If I had known-" she answered helplessly.
"But it is your job to know!" Eleal said wildly. "I will avenge my wife's death. You will not live to see the dawn."
"You’re overwrought, Eleal. Tonight you must find a wet nurse for the baby, lest you lose him, too. That must come before your revenge. Take him to your neighbor Ruth. She has a baby. She will nurse him for you."
"I will kill you. But first I will see to my son."
The minute he left the home, Kerena set out for the city of refuge. She knew Eleal would try to keep his vow to kill her. But God knew she had not deliberately let Heleb die. That's why He established a city of refuge, to which anyone accused of murder could flee. The roads to those cities were kept clear of all impediment, as God had commanded. May it be God's will that she find her way to Hebron even in the dark of night!
It was a tortuous flight. The baby's delivery had been long and difficult, and she was already exhausted. She ran the twenty miles to Hebron, blundering in the dark, sometimes losing the road, sometimes stopping to gasp for air. Sometimes she hid in the woods when she thought she heard pursuing footsteps behind her. When she crossed a stream, she knelt to quench her thirst.
It was dawn before she finally saw the ancient walls of Hebron. She flogged her tired body to its last ounce of strength, climbing up the hill to the city gates. As she stumbled toward the watchman, she cried hoarsely, "I beg you, give me sanctuary." And immediately he opened wide the postern gate.
Kerena was given a place to rest, food, water, clothing, and above all else, safety. God had made provision for her and all erring humanity in a sanctuary, a place of refuge. (You may read about the cities of refuge in Numbers 35:6-34; Deuteronomy 19:1-10 and Joshua 20:2-7).
The woman in this Bible study came, like Kerena, to the only place on earth she could find sanctuary, in the presence of Jesus Himself. Please read her story in Luke 7:29-50.
Jesus, the Invited Guest
1. Luke 7:29-35 give us the background. How did ordinary people, even tax collectors, respond to what Jesus said? (Luke 7:29) _____________________________________ But how did the Pharisees and lawyers respond? (7:30) __________ ___________________ _____________________________ What did Jesus say they were like? (7:32) _____________ ________________________________________________What did they call John the Baptist, ascetic in his eating and dress? (7:33) ______________________________________ But what did they call Jesus, who ate and drank with anyone who wanted to eat with Him? (7:36) _________________ ______________________________ (Thank God Jesus is the Friend of sinners, else where would you and I be?) Verse 36 tells us that since Jesus is Himself Wisdom, He is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow Him. The incident that followed illustrates this important truth.
Simon, the Host
2. A Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and Jesus (since He does eat with sinners!) accepted the invitation. We're not told Simon's motives, but we can guess at them by the way he treated Jesus when He came. What did he not do, which a courteous host in that land always did? (Luke 7:44) ___________________ (7:45) _______________ __________(7:46) _________________________________
What judgment did he make about Jesus at the very beginning? (7:39) __________________________________
Whether Simon's motive was to gain prestige by having a famous visitor, or whether it was to prove Jesus was a fraud, he was one of those Pharisees described in Luke 7:30, who rejected the counsel of God against themselves.
The Uninvited Guest
3. A woman in the city heard that Jesus was eating at Simon's house. (Diners actually reclined on a couch, and leaned on an elbow to eat.) What all did she do when she learned where Jesus was? (Luke 7:37,38)______________________________________________________Later, when Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus, Judas said the ointment was worth a year's wages (John 12:5). This perfume was probably equally expensive. What an eloquent indication of her repentance and sorrow for sin! She had sinned; she acknowledged it and sought Jesus' forgiveness. Why would anyone, especially a woman who was a "sinner," feel free to walk into an important man's home while he was eating? This woman's sin was so heavy on her conscience, she had no time to think of the impropriety of her behavior. In her single-minded intent to reach Jesus, she was oblivious to the sneers of the Pharisaical men around the table.
4. When Simon saw Jesus let her touch Him, what did he conclude? (Luke 7:39) ____________________________ _______________ How little he knew about Jesus, the friend of sinners, who is acquainted with all our griefs (Isaiah 53:3)! Nor did Simon seem to notice Jesus was actually reading his mind! How did Jesus broach the subject to Simon? (7:40) _________________________________ How did Simon (perhaps using the word "Master" sarcastically) respond? (7:40) ____________________ What was the fascinating story Jesus told Simon? (7:41,42) _________________________________________________________________What was the question with which He ended the story? (7:42) _______________________________________________ What was Simon's grudging answer? (7:43) ___________________________________ How did Jesus prove the sinning woman loved Him more than Simon did? (7:44-46) _____________________________________ When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the law was, what did He answer? (Matt. 22:36-38) ______________________________________________________________
5. This dear, sinful woman gave back to Jesus the one thing He most wants from us, our passionate, committed love and enjoyment of Himself. He doesn’t need our money, or even our service. He lets us serve Him because we long to express our love. Our eternal, unimaginable Creator God simply wants us to love Him!
6. But here’s the crux of the matter: what did the woman, even with her many sins, receive from Jesus? (Luke 7:47) ______________________________ What else did she receive? (7:50) ____________________________________ _____________________________ She went home, forgiven, cleansed, unchained from the bondage of her sin, able to live in gladness because of her personal relationship with Jesus. But Simon, with all his self-righteousness, would not even admit he was a sinner who needed forgiveness! In fact, how did he and the guests respond to Jesus' offer of forgiveness? (7:49) ________________________________ _______________________________________________
Simon loved Jesus little-if at all—because he had no idea of how great his own sin was. But Jesus laid it out in no uncertain terms. What did Jesus say the Pharisees did? (Matt. 23:13) ____________________________ (23:14) _________ ________________________________ (23:15) __________ _____________________ (23:34) ______________ __________ How did Jesus feel about this? (Matt. 23:37-39) ________________________________________________
There was a refuge for Simon, a sanctuary where he could have forgiveness for sin as did the sinful woman. But forgiveness would not be his until he said, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Which shall you and I do? Acknowledge our sin, accept the forgiveness Jesus offers us, and find refuge in Him? Or pretend that we have no sin, and wallow in our guilt?
Click here to be directed to our online store.