John T. Willis

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jesus Heals the Sick and Raises the Dead--Luke 7:1-17

Just after completing the account of Jesus' Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6:17-49, Luke relates two events in which Jesus performs miracles: healing a centurion's servant and raising the widow's son at Nain. This is found in Luke 7:1-17, and falls into two paragraphs.

I. Jesus heals the Centurion's Servant. Luke 7:1-10.
a. This account is similar to Matthew 8:5-13 and John 4:46-53.
b. After preaching on the plain, Jesus went to Capernaum (cf. 4:23). 7:1.
c. Luke tells his audience that in Capernaum there was a centurion (John says a royal official), who is a Gentile (see 7:9). This individual may have been in the service of Herod Antipas as leader of the mercenary troops. He foreshadows Cornelius in Acts 10:1. The centurion had a highly prized servant or slave who was very ill. Matthew 8:6 describes him as a paralytic and terribly tormented, and John 4:47 says he is about to die. 7:2.
d. The centurion "heard about" Jesus, apparently because Jesus now had a reputation among the people as a miracle worker--see 4:37. The centurion sent some Jewish elders to Jesus, asking the centurion to heal his servant. 7:3.
e. The Jewish elders found Jesus and appealed to him earnestly to heal the centurion's servant because they thought the centurion is a worthy of having Jesus to heal his servant, because the centurion loved the Jews and built their synagogue (cf. 4:33). 7:4-5.
f. Jesus went with the Jewish elders, but when they approached the house of the centurion, the centurion sent friends to tell Jesus that Jesus was not worthy to have the centurion to come into his house, but only speak the word and the servant will be healed. Entering into the house of a Gentile would defile a Jew--cf. Acts 10:28; 11:12. The centurion knew what it meant to be under authority, since the centurion had people under his authority. So, he recognizes the authority of Jesus to heal the sick. 7:6-8.
g. When Jesus heard this, he was AMAZED. Jesus turned to the crowd around him and declared: "Not even in Israel have I found such faith." In this way, Jesus criticized God's chosen people Israel because they had less faith than non-believers like the centurion. In Luke, the centurion is a symbol of Gentile belief over against the general reaction of Israel. The Bible [Old and New Testaments] consistently emphasizes that people whom God's people often consider outsiders or lost have more faith in God than God's chosen people. Zipporah, Rahab, Ruth, Naaman and many others come to mind. 7:9.
h. When the friends of the centurion went back to his home, they found the centurion's servant in good health. This demonstrates that Jesus' power of healing shows his authority. 7:10.

II. Jesus raises the widow's son at Nain. Luke 7:11-17.
a. Jesus left Capernaum and went to Nain about 25 miles away near Endor with his disciples and a large crowd. 7:11.
b. As Jesus and the crowd approached the gate of Nain, a crowd was leaving the town carrying the coffin of a widow's son. 7:12.
c. When Jesus saw the widow, he had COMPASSION for her and said, "Do not weep." Jesus touched the coffin, saying, "Young man, I say to you, arise!" The dead man sat up and Jesus gave him to his mother. This miracle calls to mind the resurrection of the widow of Zarephath through Elijah in 1 Kings 17:17-24 and the resurrection of the Shunnamite's son through Elisha in 2 Kings 4:8-37. 7:13-15.
d. When Jesus raised the widow's son from the dead, fear {deep awe] came over all the people and they glorified God, declaring, "God has looked favorably on his people!" This biblical claim is extremely significant to emphasize that God the Father is working through Jesus Christ his Son. Jesus always points beyond himself to his heavenly Father. 7:16.
e. The word about what Jesus had done spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country. Jesus' reputation is growing greatly. Everyone recognizes Jesus as "a great prophet," one who has power over life and death. See 24:19. 7:17.

God our Father can do amazing miracles. Let us keep our hearts and lives open to all God does on planet earth. His surprises are manifold and powerful.

Share YOUR experiences and insights and fears and concerns with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis