About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 7:1-10    ch. 7:11-17  ch. 7:18-35      ch. 7:36-50

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 performing.

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 apostles.

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 to her".

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 - 35)

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 message.

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 their hearts.

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 John.

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 those doubts.

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 a person.

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 games.

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 serious.

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 juice.

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 answer.

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 been forgivenÖ"

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 wrath.

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