the simplyRevised podcast: Jesus Revealed
Through the creation narrative, we learn the power of God's word. "And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light." (Gen. 1:3). With just His spoken word, God creates and calls things into existence. We see His incredible power and authority as He tames the chaotic waters bringing forward life. (ref. Gen. 1:2, 24).
We have been studying the interactions of Jesus. As we do so, we are asking what we can learn from these interactions and conversations. What do we discover about Jesus? Our purpose is to know Jesus better and to draw closer to Him. Today, we turn to (Luke 7). Jesus heals a centurion's servant and raises a widow's son from the dead. Through these accounts, we see the power, authority, and compassion of God with us.
A Centurion's Servant is Healed
In Luke's gospel, Jesus has just concluded teaching on the characteristics of the kingdom of God. When finished, Luke tells us he enters Capernaum. Capernaum is like Jesus' adopted hometown. He spent much time here and performed many miracles in Capernaum. Also, we learn from Matthew that Jesus lived here (see Matt. 4:13).
In Capernaum, a centurion's servant is sick and about to die. So he sent elders of the Jews to ask Jesus to come and heal his servant.
Luke 7:4-5 (NIV)
"When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue."
Press pause for a moment and understand the scene. Here is a Roman centurion who sent a group of Jews to ask Jesus to heal his servant. A centurion was a Roman military officer who would have commanded about 80-100 people. Typically, Roman soldiers and officers would not have any dealings with each other. However, notice a few things we learn about this centurion.
First, he has compassion for one of his servants. He cares about their life and does not want to see them die. Second, we learn that he is a generous person. For example, he funded the building of a Jewish synagogue in Capernaum. And we also can see that he respects the culture of the Jews. He sends other Jews to speak to Jesus on his behalf. Later when Jesus is approaching the man's home, he sends word to Jesus, "Lord, don't 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." (Luke 7:6b-7a). Considering the Jewish culture, it would have been considered "unclean" for a Jewish person to enter the home of a Gentile. The centurion respects and honors Jesus as a Jewish Rabbi. The centurion's compassion, generosity, and respect would have been shocking. He understands with just the word of Jesus, his servant can be healed.
Luke 7:7b–10 (NIV)
"...But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well."
Jesus does not enter the centurion's house, and he does not touch the servant. Through the power and authority of his word, the servant is healed.
A Widow's Son is Raised
The next day, Jesus went to the city of Nain; many of his disciples were with him, and a large crowd followed them. When Jesus approached the gate of the town, there was a funeral procession taking place. A widow's only son had died. When Jesus saw her, he had compassion for her and said, "Do not weep" (Lk. 7:13).
Not only had this woman lost her husband, but now she has lost her only son. The grief of loss would have been flooding her soul. How can you comfort someone who has lost so much? Only after her son is returned to the ground would the realization set in that she has also lost all of her provisions. In her culture, a widowed woman without any sons would need to rely on the generosity of her neighbors as she struggled for survival. Yet, Jesus tells her, "do not weep."
Two crowds merge at the gate, those following Jesus and those mourning the loss of a loved one. Death separates the two as Jesus stands in the middle.
Luke 7:13–15 (NIV)
"When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother."
Jesus, full of compassion, with his words, brings forward life. The crowds with Jesus begin to understand this is not just another rabbi. Jesus represents more than just a teacher.
Luke 7:16 (NIV)
"They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people."
Bridging the Context
Do we recognize who Jesus is? If we do, what does this mean?
The centurion understood the authority of Jesus, and he recognized his power. Just like the centurion, through the direction of his words, could have things accomplished, Jesus' words are words of authority and power that accomplish great things. Do we recognize the authority and power of Jesus' words in our lives today? Are we willing to submit our lives to his words, to follow his wisdom and instruction? Or do we push back against his words in resistance to the Spirit's direction for our lives?
Jesus' words are words of compassion and justice. They are words that bring forward life. Standing between life and death, Jesus has come to reclaim and restore life.
On a very difficult day when Jesus had been teaching, many of those who followed him turned away and did not follow anymore; Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, "Do you also want to go away?" (Jn. 6:67). Notice Peter's response:
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
Jesus' words are the words of life! Understanding this, like the crowds by the city gate, we see "God has visited His people" (Lk. 7:16). For those who recognize him today, we also trust in his words and have confidence in his promises "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:20).
Downloads & Resources
study guide: Jesus Revealed
slides (PDF): Jesus Revealed
Scripture quotations: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.