Posts Tagged ‘Healing’

Luke 17:11-19 Ten Lepers Healed

October 7, 2009

Only one returned.

Only one returned.

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, [1] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” [2]

  • Which is more surprising: the fact that one person came back and gave God the glory?  Or the fact that nine didn’t?
  • Of course the one who does come back is a Samaritan, a foreigner.  Once again, a Samaritan puts to shame his Jewish counterparts.
  • Why didn’t the other nine return?  They could have many excuses, but the fact is they just were not grateful.  After a lesson in humility comes a lesson in gratitude.
  • “It is not only the nine ex-lepers who are shown up.  It is all of us who fail to thank God ‘always and for everything’ as Paul puts it (Ephesians 5:20).” N.T. Wright
  • Make a list of all the things you are grateful for and thank God for them one by one.
  • The word Jesus uses when he says “get up” in verse 19 refers to resurrection.  This man was dead and is alive again.  Just like the prodigal son.
  • Faith and healing go hand in hand.  Not just any faith but faith in Jesus as the Son of God.  With faith also comes gratitude.
  • Am I returning to give God the glory for the ways he has healed my life?  Am I grateful?  Do I have faith in the work of God through Jesus?  How easy it is to walk through life completely blessed by God while forgetting to give Him the glory.  How has God healed/blessed you recently?  Have you stopped to praise him and thank him?  Do it now.
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Luke 14:1-11 Jesus and the Pharisee

July 6, 2009
The Wedding Feast by Tintoretto

The Wedding Feast by Tintoretto

Healing of a Man on the Sabbath

14:1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son [1] or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.

The Parable of the Wedding Feast

7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  • Luke has more meal-time scenes than any of the other gospels.
  • Luke 14 has two parables about feasting.  The one in verses 7-11 is the first.  This parable seems to be just a simple piece of social advice to avoid embarrassment but verse 7 declares that it is a parable and thus it must have a deeper meaning.
  • Jesus is talking about the way in which religious leaders of his day were concerned with their position in the eyes of God.  They wanted to be first.  They wanted to push themselves forward to gain a higher standing.  These were the sort of people we find Jesus with in verse 1-6.
  • Jesus was warning against self-righteousness, considering oneself better than others in the sight of God.  The pharisees and lawyers thought they were superior to the poor and untrained person.  They were the ones trained in the law while the common person was not.
  • There was also a wider meaning in this parable.  God was opening up his Kingdom to the gentile population.  Many non-Jewish people would become Christians later in the story (read Acts) and would take their seats at the wedding feast.  The Jewish Christians would have a hard time accepting this.  They were too worried about maintaining their own places at the top of the table.  “Pride, notoriously, is the great cloud which blots out the sun of God’s generosity: if I reckon that I deserve to be favored by God, not only do I declare that I don’t need grace, mercy, and love but I imply that those who don’t deserve it shouldn’t have it.” N.T. Wright
  • Jesus was proclaiming God’s love and generosity.  Am I small-minded?  Have I become self-righteous?  Do I withhold God’s love from others?  Am I to worried about my place at the table?  These are good questions to ask.  I need God’s love and mercy and I need to share that same love and mercy freely to all people.

Luke 13:10-21 Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath

June 19, 2009

A Woman with a Disabling Spirit

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

  • The woman.  A local woman, probably well known by the people of the village.  She had a “spirit of weakness”.  This could mean that people did not know the medical reason why she was bent double.  She was like that for 18 years.
  • The synagogue president.  He is involved in a power struggle with Jesus.  He is in charge of the assembly and here comes Jesus, walking in and upstaging him in front of all the people.  It says he was angry.  So he publicly rebukes Jesus.
  • Jesus.  He does not hesitate.  He sees the woman and immediately heals her.  Upon rebuke, Jesus answers.  Double standards, this is the problem of the synagogue president.  If you can untie an animal that needs water then how much more should you be willing to untie a child of Abraham bound by Satan.
  • Jesus claims that thus woman is a daughter of Abraham and that she has been bound by Satan for 18 years.  What Jesus does for this woman is what he wants to do for Israel as a nation.  Satan has Israel in his power and Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God can set her free.  Israel, however, is stuck on it’s laws and rigid boundaries and will not accept this message.  This is Jesus’ hope, his desire, for Israel to be set free.  This is why he is going to Jerusalem.
  • What about these two sayings regarding the Kingdom of God?  They are there to explain what had just happened previously.  One healing in one synagogue on one sabbath.  What can that accomplish?  Like a mustard seed or some leaven, this one act may seem very small but in the end its impact is all encompassing.  Thus is the Kingdom of God.

Luke 11:14-28 Jesus and Beelzebul

May 29, 2009

Jesus and Beelzebul

14 Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15 But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18 And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20 But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22 but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Return of an Unclean Spirit

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

True Blessedness

27 As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

  • There were two ways to explain how Jesus could command the demons.  Either he was using power given to him by God or he was somehow in league with Satan (Beelzebul or Beelzebub, a nickname meaning Lord of flies, used as a way to refer to the source of evil).
  • Jesus’ opponents knew that if they could get people to believe that Jesus was in league with Satan, then they could reject his teaching and turn people against him.  As Jesus said, “If your not with me, your against me.”
  • Of course Jesus explains that what they are saying is not true but the opposite is true.  If Satan opposes himself then he is divided and has already lost the  battle.  And what about the Jewish exorcists?  What power do they use?  Are they in league with Satan as well?  This is the arguement that Jesus presents.
  • Now Jesus is more then just another exorcist.  He casts out demons by “the finger of God”.  This phrase echoes Exodus 8:19 where Moses performed great wonders that the magicians of Egypt could not reproduce.  The God of the Exodus is at work in the world through Jesus.  This is the same power that will defeat death at the end of this Gospel.  Jesus has tied up the strongman and can now run his household.
  • Jesus ends with a warning.  If we cleanse ourselves from evil and do not replace the evil with good then the evil will return worse than before.  Wright likens this to Israel being cleansed from evil, similar to the demon possessed man.  If God does not dwell with them then Israel will be vulnerable to the demon’s return.  Jesus was the return of God to Israel, if they did not accept him then the evil which led them to ruin in the past would return.
  • Jesus gets some unlikely support from a woman in the crowd.  “When the word of God is at work, what is required is not applause but obedience.”  Am I keeping the word of God?

Luke 10:25-37 The Parable of the Good Samaritan

May 20, 2009
The Good Samaritan

The Good Samaritan

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii [1] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

 

  • “The best known stories are sometimes the hardest to understand.” N.T. Wright  This is true of the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • General moral understanding – if you see someone in need, go and help them regardless of their race or religion.  But what did Jesus really mean?
  • The Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  Both claimed to be the true children of Abraham.  Both felt they had claim to the land.  They were bordering neighbors.  In fact people traveling to and from Jerusalem would go around Samaria, traveling a longer distance to avoid contact with Samaritans.
  • This route contained many twists and turns, and was an ideal place for outlaws and brigands to hide and prey on unsuspecting travelers.  Especially lonely travels like the man in Jesus’ story.
  • And for those who were left half dead, it would be difficult for those passing by to tell if the man was dead or alive.  This is why the Levite and priest just pass by.  If they touched the man and he was dead, they would be unclean and would not be able to serve in the temple.  They would rather preserve their purity than uphold God’s law of love.
  • The lawyer wanted to know who his “neighbor” was.  To him his fellow Jews were his neighbors.  To Jesus a neighbor is anyone in need.  Could the lawyer recognize the hated Samaritan as his neighbor?
  • Jesus is offering the way of peace, the way of grace.  The Jewish leaders were not inclined towards peace but towards confrontation.
  • Who are God’s people?  The Jews believed they were.  The Samaritans believed they were.  The lawyer tries to trick Jesus into saying something that would incriminate him in front of the people.  The lawyer wanted to justify himself.  He knew the scriptures, he already knew the answer, or so he thought.  Jesus turns the table on the lawyer by revealing that it is not enough to have the right answers.  Jesus shows that the true fulfillment of God’s commands is to recognize those in need and to help them.  To love them.  God’s people are those who live this way.
  • “What is at stake then and now is the question of whether we will use the God-given revelation of love and grace as a way of boosting our own sense of isolated security and purity, or whether we will see it as a call and challenge to extend that love and grace to the whole world.” N.T Wright
  • Have I limited my love to certain types of people?  Have I passed by half dead people?  Am I living like one of God’s true children?  I was half dead once, and someone came and took care of my wounds.  Have I now become the lawyer or the Levite and priest?  Do I recognize that this world is in need of God’s love and grace?  This is very convicting.  No one wants to think they are like the lawyer but how many people in need spiritually do I pass by each day and do nothing?  I need to go and do likewise!!

Luke 9:28-45 The Transfiguration

May 9, 2009

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, [1] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; [2] listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

Jesus Again Foretells His Death

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus [3] said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.  

  • Whenever we have a mountain top experience, such as the one the three disciples had here, we eventually have to come down from the mountain and face reality.  All of the Gospels follow the transfiguration with the story of the boy who is desperately ill.  The two stories go together.  “The Mountain Top Experience” and the “Shrieking Stubborn Demon”.  Most of us prefer to live on the plateau, avoiding both extremes.  However, I must expect that when I have that great spiritual experience (i.e. an awesome prayer time, or an inspiring worship service), I will face some testing and suffering.  God allows us to experience these high moments to equip us to meet the needs of this world.
  • The transfiguration was preparing Jesus for his departure.  Moses and Elijah were speaking about his departure, his exodus.  This word exodus could mean going away or it could mean death.  Interesting choice of word considering Moses is present.  By using this word, Luke is making a connection between the exodus from Egypt and Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Moses led his people out of slavery and into the promised land.  Jesus will lead his people out of slavery (sin and death) and into the new creation.
  • Jesus knew what this experience was preparing him for.  He knew that he was headed to where the law and the prophets had pointed.  He knew he was to be handed over into the hands of sinners.  The disciples, however, did not understand this.  They could not understand how the glory they just witnessed on the mountain would lead to a different mountain.  A small, ugly one just outside of Jerusalem.
  • “We, too often find it completely bewildering to know how to understand all that God is doing and saying, both in our times of great joy and our times of great sadness.  But the word that comes to us, leading us on to follow Jesus even when we haven’t a clue what’s going on, is the word that came from the cloud on that strange day in Galilee. ‘This is my Son, my chosen one.  Listen to him.'”  N.T. Wright

Luke 8:40-56 Jairus’ Daughter and the Woman with Chronic Bleeding

April 29, 2009

luke-for-everyone Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus’s Daughter

40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, [1] she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter [2] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

49 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.

  • Like Mark, Luke combines the story of the woman and her 12 year ailment and the story of Jairus’ 12 year old daughter.  (Echos of the 12 year old Jesus?)  Connected by Jesus’ command to Jairus to have faith, immediately after he tells the woman her faith had healed her.  Jairus’ faith must have been strengthened by seeing this woman healed and by her only touching Jesus.
  • Touching is very important in both cases.  The woman touches Jesus and Jesus touches the dead girl.  Of course in the Jewish culture there were certain things you did not touch.  Dead people and women with internal bleeding were on that list.
  • Jesus allowed himself to become “unclean”.  In the case of the woman, he couldn’t help it, but in the case of the JAirus’ daughter he deliberately touches her.  Jesus doesn’t allow these taboos to stop him from loving people.
  • Luke again shows that he cares about the stories of women.  Luke has begun to show us who Jesus really is, however he now begins to show us what Jesus has come to achieve.  “Jesus shares the pollution of sickness and death, but the power of his own love- and it is love, above all that shines through these stories- turns that pollution into wholeness and hope.” N.T. Wright  This is a foreshadow of what Jesus will accomplish on the cross.
  • “Don’t be afraid”, Jesus says.  He is with us.  He joins us in our sufferings and sorrows.  He loves us and is willing to get his hands dirty to help us.

Luke 8:26-39 The Healing of the Demoniac

March 12, 2009

Jesus Heals a Man with a Demon

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, [1] which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus [2] had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.”29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him.31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed [3] man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying,39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

  • They crossed to the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee into an area that was mostly gentile territory (hence the pigs).
  • Jesus is confronted by this violent man.  Like the storm from the previous section, Jesus remains calm to deal with this human storm.
  • The scene with the pigs is thought to be an image of what the Jews wanted to do  to the Romans; drive them into the sea to drown.
  • This man was not just healed but he was given salvation.  The salvation which God had promised long ago was now beginning to spread further abroad.
  • The man wishes to stay with Jesus.  Of course, who wouldn’t want to stay with Jesus. It’s like having a big brother with you at elementary school.  None of the bully’s will mess with you.  Jesus had healed him, had loved him, why would he want to leave Jesus?  However, Jesus does not say “follow me” to this man but says “go home and tell”.
  • Imagine what it would be like for this man to go home.  This man had been cast out of society.  He had been living in the tombs, chained up, and under guard.  He must have done some pretty horrible things in his past.  Would his family and village accept him now?  Would they believe that he had changed?  It was not an easy thing for this man to return to his family.  No wonder why he wanted to stay with Jesus.  But now he must go back and tell them what God had done for him.  
  • “Go home and tell them what God has done for you.”  What will this man tell people.  He will tell them what Jesus did for him.  Luke is emphasizing here in this one verse that what Jesus does, God does.   When we tell people what Jesus has done for us, we are telling them what God has done for us.  We are beginning to see the answer to the question of who Jesus really is.
  • Do I want to stay where it is safe?  This man begged Jesus to stay with him but Jesus sent him back home.  It was not going to be easy for this man to go home.  He would most likely have to take responsibility for his past and reconcile with his family.  It would have been easier just to stay with Jesus.  But Jesus told him to go and tell.  Jesus is telling me to go and tell.  He doesn’t want me to play it safe by not opening my mouth.  By thinking everyone is OK.  Who am I telling about what God has done for me?  

Luke 7:11-17 Raising of the Widow’s Son

February 27, 2009

Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son

11 Soon afterward [1] he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus [2]gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

  • Where was the faith this time?  The centurion’s servant was healed because of the centurion’s faith.  But where is the faith in this story?
  • Jesus loves to see signs of faith but is not bound by it.  In this case he acts out of sheer compassion.
  • Imagine being there when this happened.  The death of a son.  What a tragedy.  And someone from your town, a widow who’s husband had passed not too long ago.  Your heart goes out to her as you join the funeral procession and mourn with her.  The body was prepared and wrapped in the burial clothes.   The procession was on its way to the burial site when all of a sudden a stranger comes and stops them.  He says something to the woman and reaches out and touches the bier.  What is he doing?  Doesn’t he know that he will now be unclean according to the Jewish law?  And then he tells the lad to get up, and he does.  
  • Imagine the shock you feel, the awe, the fear, the joy, the disbelief.  Could this possibly have happened?  Am I hallucinating? No, I’m not this is real.  The people were probably reminded of the Elisha and Elijah (1Kings 17 and 2Kings 4).  N. T. Wright says, ” ‘God has visited his people’, they say: not in the sense of paying them a social visit, but in the old biblical sense, where this phrase was used to refer to God ‘visiting’ Israel at the time of the Exodus and other great events.  It means, ‘God has come near to us , to save and rescue us’.  It means, ‘This is the time we’ve been waiting for.’ “
  • No matter what I go through, like this widow, I need Jesus to find me, stop me, and heal me.  I need his presence.  When Jesus is around, even a funeral procession, is turned into joy.
  • These two stories, the centurion and the widow’s son, show what happens when the sermons in chapter 6 are lived out.  God’s love and his generosity are being brought to his people.  These stories also prepare us for the central question, ‘ who does Jesus think he is?’

Luke 7:1-10 The Healing of the Centurion’s Servant

February 25, 2009

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

7:1 After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant [1] who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion [2]heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

  • Most of us don’t live under very tight or clear authority structures, as they do in the military.
  • Because of this it is easy to think of God’s authority as loose or unclear.
  • However, God’s authority is absolute.  Like a commanding officer in the military.  This authority was at work through Jesus.  If we don’t acknowledge this authority we are lacking in faith.  The centurion understood this authority.
  • This story is not about the healing of the slave, although that is important.  It is about the centurion’s faith.  The centurion was a middle ranking officer stationed in Capernaum.  He had a commanding officer above him and a group of soldiers beneath him.  His duties , most likely, involved peace-keeping.
  • Often soldiers in his position would despise the local people but this man did not.  According to Luke, the centurion loved the people and helped them to build a synagogue.  Luke emphasizes his respect and humility because he had sent two messengers.
  • Jesus was astonished by the second message.  He was astonished!!!!  Normally people were astonished by Jesus not the other way around.  Why was Jesus astonished?  Because of the quality of this man’s faith.
  • The centurion had a simple faith that believed in the authority of Jesus over sickness and health.  Like an officer in the military, if Jesus says get well, then you get well.  If he says it, it gets done.  Its that simple.
  • Where did he get this faith?  Obviously he had heard of Jesus and probably had witnessed his ability to heal.  Because of that he understood that God must be at work in him.  The centurion got it.  He was a gentile, a Roman, but he got it.  He understood the heart of the Jewish faith.  That the one true God was sovereign, the Lord of heaven and earth.  And he was now at work in this world through this Jesus of Nazareth.
  • What is my faith like?  Do I believe like this centurion?  What are my prayers like?  Do I ask God for something half hearted without really believing I will receive what I asked for?  Is Jesus the Lord of this world or not?