The Faith Of The Centurion (ch. 7:1 - 10)
In chapter 7 Jesus leaves the mountain side and enters Capernaum. In
Capernaum there was a centurion with a very sick servant. A centurion is a
leader of 100 or less men in the Roman army. This man was a very important
person. How many servants this centurion had we donít know, but we do
know that one of his beloved servants was at deathís door.
The centurion asks the Jewish elders of the city to go and see if
Jesus would come to his house and heal his sick servant. The centurion,
like others, obviously heard of all the miracles that Jesus was
You might ask, "why would a Roman army official ask Jewish
elders to do something for him". First of all, he was a man of
authority and was used to asking people to do things for him. But the
question still remains, "why did he ask Jewish elders"? Many
think that this Roman soldier was a Jewish convert, and for this reason he
asked the Jewish elders for help.
The elders obliged him and found Jesus. When the elders found Jesus
"they pleaded with Him, Ďthis man deserves to have you do this,
because he loves our nation and has built our synagogueí". Right
away we see a couple of things about the centurion. He is rich enough to
build the synagogue, and he loves the Jewish nation, suggestion that he
may possibly be a convert. If he was not a convert, he was definitely
sympathetic towards the Jews.
The elders had to have believed somewhat in Jesus for them do this,
and to plead with Jesus. They must have believed that Jesus could in fact
heal the sick servant.
So Jesus did as the elders said. As He got close to the house the
centurion sent people to meet Jesus. This is the message that the people
conveyed to Jesus on behalf of the centurion. "Lord, do not trouble
yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why
I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word and
my servant will be healed". The messengers tell Jesus that the
centurion is a man who has authority and who is under authority. He knows
that he only has to speak the word, and what he wishes will be done. This
same idea applies to Jesus. Jesus only has to speak the word of healing
and the servant will be healed. Jesus does not even have to be by the bed
of the sick man.
We note some things about the centurion. He calls Jesus Lord.
Whether he really understood what that meant, we donít know. My guess is
that he didnít. But He did understand things enough to know that Jesus
was one very special man and deserved the title of Lord.
The centurion also understood that since Jesus was Lord, he was in
fact a servant himself and did not feel worthy enough to have the Lord in
His house. Once again, this is a major point in salvation, in getting
saved. You must understand who you are, an unworthy sinner. Once
understanding this, you make Jesus your Lord.
This also shows the faith, or trust that the centurion had in Jesus.
He knew Jesus could heal his sick servant, and Jesus did not even have to
be where the sick man was to heal him.
In verse 9 Luke tells us that Jesus "was amazed" when He
heard these things. He then turned to the crowd that followed him, (thereís
always a crowd following Jesus) He said, "Ö I have not found such
great faith, even in Israel". This tells us that the centurion was
definitely not a Jew. It also tells us that Jesus would expect men of
Israel to have such faith because of their history, but this Roman had
more faith than the Jews.
After saying this, the messengers returned to the centurionís home
to find the servant completely well.
Jesus Raises A Widows Son (ch. 7:11 - 17)
Verse 11 says that "soon after Jesus went to a town called Nain
with His disciples and a large crowd". Once again, we see Jesus in
the small towns. He has not yet gone to Jerusalem. We also see the large
crowds following Him, along with His disciples, probably not just the 12
On the way into this town Jesus saw a large crowd of people coming
out of the town. It was a funeral procession. A widowís only son had
died. When Jesus saw this, Luke states that Jesusí "heart went out
This son must have just died. It was the practice in those days, and
in that climate, the ordinary person who dies would be buried the same
day, unless he dies in the evening, then he is buried the next day.
Jesusí heart goes out to this lady. Heart suggests the centre of
the body where ones emotions are. This could easily be translated as lung
or liver. Heart is our western way of saying that the emotions of Jesus
effected Him to act in love. This is always typical of Jesus. He had a
heart of love and compassion for those in true need.
In one moment of time Jesus looks at the weeping woman and says,
"donít cry", as He stops the procession and touches the
coffin, telling the young man inside to rise up. He says, "young man,
I say to you, get up". Jesus speaks to this dead man as if he could
hear, and he clearly did hear. "The dead man sat up and began to
talk". What a sight to see. What did people think? Even more so, what
did this man talk about. We donít know. Too bad Luke had not recorded
his words. They would have been quite interesting.
Verse 16 tells us that everyone was filled with awe and began to
praise God. This is not the first time we have seen people filled with
awe. The presence of Jesus and what He says and does always fills the
crowd with awe.
The people said that a "great prophet of God has appeared among
us. The people clearly seen Jesus as a Godly man, a great prophet, like
those in the Old Testament, and maybe even greater. Still Jesus was more
than a great prophet, but they did not understand this.
The people also said that "God has come to help His
people". They believed that Jesus was sent from God, was Godís
modern day spokesman to help them. This is why many wanted to make Him
King. They truly believed that He could free Israel from the Romans.
So once again the news of Jesus spread throughout Judea, Luke tells
us. By now everyone would have heard about Jesus. There could not have
been many who had not heard about Jesus and the things He was doing.
Jesus And John The Baptist (ch. 7:18 -
By this stage in Lukeís account John the Baptist was in prison. He
had heard of all the things that Jesus had been doing from his own
disciples. Note that John still had disciples when he was in prison.
On one occasion John sent 2 of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him,
"are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone
else"? The words "one to come" means the Messiah.
John seemed to have the need to know for sure that Jesus was in fact
the real Messiah. Why he needed to know this is uncertain. Many have
suggested that John had doubts while in prison. He had clearly seen the
sign of the Spirit come on Jesus in the river. Was he now beginning to
doubt from the depression he must have experienced in prison? It is
possible that he had doubts, or it might be possible that he needed a
little more assurance.
Some suggest that John saw the grace of God in Jesus the Messiah,
but the Messiah was also to bring judgement. John did not see the
judgement part. This would have been close to Johnís heart because his
preaching consisted repenting in order to escape this judgement.
In verse 22 Jesus gives His response to Johnís disciples. He says,
"go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind
receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf
hear, and the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me".
Jesus doesnít directly answer the question, as is often the case
with Jesus. He does not say, "yes, I am the Messiah, tell John not to
worry". But He gives examples of healings and miracles that He has
performed, confirming such Old Testament Scriptures as Isa. 35:5-6. He
also says that He is preaching the gospel to the poor, that is poor in
spirit. John would understand this sentence for it was part of his own
Jesus adds one more thought. "Blessed is the man who does not
fall away on account of me". You might wonder how anyone could fall
away on the account of Jesus. First, I believe that fall away means to
fall from the grace of God, to fall into unbelief. Yet many in Israel fell
away. Were these words directed to John? Yes, for John, but for anyone who
heard as well. Was John ready to fall away? I donít know. Jesus did not
want John or anyone else to fall away, hoping for someone else to come as
the Messiah. He indeed was the Messiah.
Some of the people in the crowd that surrounded Jesus obviously
heard the questions put forth by Johnís disciples. So Jesus decides to
speak to the crowd about John the Baptist. He asks them 3 questions that
He really doesnít intend for them to answer, but more to ponder upon in
He asks, "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed
swayed by the wind. If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in
fine clothes. No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury
are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet. Yes, I tell
you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written;Ö."
Jesus asked these people just why they went out into the desert, and
just who they thought they were hearing in the desert. A reed driven by
the wind suggests a man that had nothing clear and firm to say. It would
represent a man who was simply driven by popular opinion, but this was not
Was John a rich man living and dressing in luxury? Certainly not.
John dressed poorly, and lived in poverty.
But the man that they went out to see was more than a prophet. Yes,
he was a prophet, but he was a special prophet. Jesus quotes from Mal. 3:1
where it speaks of a special man that would be sent to prepare the way for
the Messiah. This indeed was John the Baptist, the one now in prison. The
one who asked these questions. If anyone had doubts about John, Jesus
spoke to those doubts. If John had doubts about his own ministry resulting
in doubts about Jesus being the Messiah, then Jesusí words spoke to
The next statement that Jesus makes is quite interesting. In verse
28 He says, "I tell you, among those born of women there is no one
greater than JohnÖ" Jesus highly esteems John beyond any other man
that is born. John is the greatest man ever born. What words to say about
Yet the next statement is almost paradoxical. He says, "yet the
one who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he". If John
is the greatest, how can someone else be greater. Well, John is the
greatest person to be born of a woman, but in the Kingdom of God there is
a different standard. That standard is based on servanthood. Those who can
humble themselves to serve God and others are great in the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is not like the kingdom of men where the popular, and
the leaders are the great ones. The one who cleans the room after a church
meeting because he loves Jesus is greater than the one who hold the
attention of hundreds by his sermon.
When the people heard these words, everyone, including the tax
collectors (ch. 7:29) acknowledged that Godís ways were right. Why,
because these people had been baptized by John, Luke says. The people
heard Johnís words concerning repentance and faith. They saw his humble
condition in the eyes of the world. Now Jesus tells them because of this
humility He was great in the Kingdom of God, and they like John, can be
great as well.
The same principle applies today. Many receive their reward today by
the applause and the kind words spoken about them. Yet there are many who
are not so recognized, who are doing good in the Kingdom that will receive
a greater reward in Heaven. The problem is that in todayís church we
think too much like the world. We see the great men as the popular
speakers, singers, and leaders of the day. This is not necessarily the
case in the eyes of our Lord though. He views things differently.
When these people acknowledged that Godís way was right, they were
also acknowledging that Jesus was showing and speaking about Godís way,
thus making Him a true messenger sent from God.
In verse 30 Luke says that the Pharisees and the experts in the law
rejected Godís ways because they were not baptized by John. They did not
agree with Johnís message. They felt that they had no need to repent, no
need to trust in something else, other than their good works.
Thus we see a distinction between Jesusí disciples and the
Pharisees. The gap would widen as the days and weeks went on.
Jesus, in reference to His rejection of the Pharisees relates a
parable to the people. The parable is an answer to 2 questions that Jesus
asks in verse 31. Jesus asks, "To what then, can I compare the people
of this generation? What are they like"? The generation that Jesus is
speaking about is clear. It is those people who heard the message of both
He and John.
Jesus then proceeds to tell a story about children playing in the
market place, as they often did in those days. City streets were extremely
narrow and not conducive for playing games. Jesus tells the story of some
children playing wedding. At weddings a flute would be played and people
would dance to the music. But in the game the rest of the children did not
dance. They did not go along with the wedding game.
So the children switched from playing the wedding game to playing a
funeral game, hoping the other children would weep as if someone had died.
The other children did not play along with this game either. They neither
danced or cried. Jesus said that this generation was like these children.
They also refused to listen to Jesus as the other children refused to play
The question is now asked, "what does this parable mean"?
This generation of people, who have heard both John and Jesus are fickle,
like the children. The children move from one game to another. Some want
to play while others donít. Thereís no consensus.
For the most part, Jesus came with a good message, something that if
accepted should cause people to be happy and to dance. John came with a
more negative message, that of repentance, which should make people morn
because of their sin. Yet with both messages, the playing of the flute by
Jesus, and the dirge by John, no one wanted to follow.
In verse 33 and 34 Jesus says that "John the Baptist came
neither eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, Ď he has a demoní.
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, Ďhere is a glutton
and a drunkard a friend of tax collectors and sinners í". It is
clear to see John described by Jesus as playing the dirge, the funeral
game. He did not eat bread or drink wine. He had no fun. He was very
Yet on the other hand the Son of Man, meaning Jesus, ate and drank.
His message brought joy. He ate and drank as in a wedding feast. We must
note here that the drinking concerning Jesus was not the drinking of grape
juice. He drank wine. If this were not the case, how could His accusers
suggest that he was a drunkard. You do not get drunk by drinking grape
Verse 36 says, "But wisdom is proved right by all her
children". What does this mean? Let me suggest that the wisdom spoken
of here is the wisdom of God, and that wisdom has been proven right by
both John and Jesus, the children of wisdom.
Jesus Anointed By A Sinful Woman (ch.
7:36 - 50)
In verse 36 Jesus accepts an invitation to a Phariseeís house to
eat. Luke says that they "reclined at the table". In those days
it was not the custom to sit on a chair at a table as we do. They in fact
"reclined" on a very large cushion that could hold more than one
person. The personís elbow would support their weight while their legs
extended away from the table.
Verse 37 tells us that a sinful woman heard that Jesus was at this
Phariseeís house, so she went to visit. Some have suggested that this
woman was Mary Magdalene but there is no hint of this in the text. Some
suggest that this lady was a prostitute, but the text does not say this
either, although she might well have been one.
It was often the custom for uninvited guests to a meal to sit
against a wall while the others ate. This could have been the case here.
Jesusí feet would have extended towards a wall, away from the table
where this lady might have been sitting. The lady was crying and her tears
fell on Jesusí feet. She wiped the tears with her hair and then poured
perfume on Jesusí feet.
Luke tells us in verse 39 that the Pharisee "said to himself,
Ďif this man were a prophet, he would know who was touching him Ö"
The Pharisee was obviously disgusted with Jesus that He would allow a
sinful woman to touch Him.
Once again we note that Jesus knew the thoughts of people. He knew
what this man was thinking. Verse 40 says, "Jesus answered him.
Simon, I have something to tell you". We find out here that the
Phariseeís name is Simon. We also note that Jesus answered this manís
thoughts. This man did not actually ask Jesus a question for Him to
Simon calls Jesus a teacher. First he wonders to himself if Jesus is
a prophet. Now he calls him a teacher. Simon doesnít seem to understand
Jesus and this is probably why he invited Jesus for dinner.
Jesus explains that a money lender lent money to 2 men. One man owed
lots of money, while the other man owed little, yet both men did not have
the funds to pay their debt back. The money lender decided to cancel the
debt of both men.
So Jesus asks Simon, who he had just acknowledged as a teacher,
"now which of the men will love him more", that is to say, which
man of the 2 will love the money lender more, the man with the big debt,
or the man with the small debt?
In verse 43 Simon answers as you or I would answer. It is only
logical that the man with the large debt should love the money lender more
than the one with the small debt.
Jesus answers Simon by saying, "you have judged
correctly". Jesus agrees with Simonís assessment. It is also
interesting to note that Jesus told Simon that he had "judged
correctly". By this our thinking on judging is affirmed. There is
nothing wrong with making correct judgements as Jesus says here.
Now since Jesus and Simon think alike concerning the parable that
Jesus spoke, He applied this understanding to the present situation. Jesus
agrees with Simon that this woman is a sinner. Yet this woman has shown
much more appreciation to Jesus than Simon has. She has refreshed his
feet, and has shown great concern for Jesus, much more concern than Simon.
Jesus is comparing Simon to the man who had a small debt, and this
sinful woman to the man who had a large debt. As the money lender
cancelled the debt of the 2 men, so Jesus is forgiving, or canceling the
sin of this woman. In verse 47 Jesus says that "her many sins have
Now after speaking to Simon, Jesus turns directly to the woman and
says, "your sins are forgiven". The Holy Spirit surely carried
these words to this womanís heart. She must have instinctively sensed
something in Jesusí words, and surely knew that she was forgiven.
The rest of the people in the room also had some kind of knowledge
of what Jesus was saying. Forgiving of a personís sins was only
something that God in Heaven could do, and as before, these words of Jesus
were not easily accepted by the Jews.
Jesus had told Simon that this ladyís many sins were forgiven
because she loved much. Is Jesus emphasizing works, to the extent that
works saves a person. In this case the works would be the womanís acts
of love. Did these acts really get the womanís sins forgiven. No. In
verse 50 Jesus tells the lady that her faith has saved her and that she
should go in peace.
It was not the act of love that saved this woman. It was her faith.
It was the trust that she put in Jesus that saved her that resulted in the
fact that she could "go in peace". She did not have to worry
about her sin any longer. She was forgiven. She was saved from Godís