Luke Chapter Seven

 

v.1  1Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.”

 

            Jesus had centered his teaching and living at this time around the city of Capernaum.  He was in Capernaum prior to going into the mountain to pray, then spoke to the multitudes on the plain nearby, now he returns to the city.

 

v.2-32And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. 3And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.”

 

            We remember from prior study that a centurion was a captain in the Roman army, the commander of 100 men or as we know the organization of our military forces today a company commander.  He was obviously a Gentile but in spite of that had faith in God and believed that Jesus could heal his servant.  He was also a man that had a good standing with the Jewish elders or rulers of the city so he approaches them to help him.  His servant, a person that he apparently valued highly is sick, scripture says sick unto death, if he is not healed it is sure that he will die.

 

v.4-54And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: 5For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”

 

            These Jewish elders come to Jesus as soon as he is available to them; the scripture says instantly; or immediately after the request was made.  They tell Jesus that this centurion is a good man, worthy, he has even built them a synagogue, a house of worship, something very unusual for a Roman to do.

 

v.6-76Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.”

 

            We’re told that it was not unusual in Eastern cultures for successive messengers to be sent to someone important and from whom a favor was needed.  It was considered a sign of humility, I doubt that we would view it as such in our society today.  His message is that he is not worthy for Jesus to enter his house and that it would be sufficient for Jesus to say that his servant is healed and that he knows that then it would be done.  Why did this man believe this?


 v.88For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

 

            Since this man was a centurion, a company commander, he understood a position of authority.  He also recognized that Jesus had authority over his servant’s illness.  He compares his authority over his soldiers to that of Jesus over the physical weaknesses of the human body.  We would also note that while Matthew calls this man’s illness “palsy” (Matthew 8:6), Doctor Luke doesn’t tell us anything about what illness he has.

 

v.9-109When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 10And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.”

 

            Jesus is amazed at this man’s faith.  Here we have a Roman officer exhibiting more faith and understanding of the authority of Jesus than the very people who have been looking forward to his coming for generations.  He points that fact out to the people that are following him and when the messengers sent by the centurion return to the centurion’s house they find that the servant has been healed.

 

v.1111And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.”

 

            Jesus leaves Capernaum again and with his disciples and a great multitude of people following him goes to the city of Nain.  Can anyone tell me where this city might be?  No, because we aren’t told.  Historians and geographers don’t all agree but most think that it was a mountain town within about a day’s journey on foot from Capernaum.  This would be logical as Jesus is traveling in Galilee preaching.

 

v.1212Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.”

 

            We learn here that this city is large enough and wealthy enough to have a wall around it because it has a gate.  When Jesus arrives at the gate of the city a man is being carried out to be buried.  The scripture tells us that the one who has died was the only son of a widow.  This widow was apparently someone of some standing in this place as Luke also records that “MUCH PEOPLE” were accompanying this funeral procession.

 

v.13-1413And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.

 

            Jesus’ heart was touched by this widow and her situation.  No matter what our station in life, no matter what we have or do not have, no matter what our troubles might be; Jesus has this same kind of compassion for you and I.  In prophecy we’re told:

 

Isaiah 40:1111He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

 

Isaiah 63:99In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.”

 

            We see the pictures that man have created showing Jesus with children, with little lambs, and while these are flights of fancy and drawn from the imagination of men, yet they depict the mercy and compassion of the son of God accurately.

 

Mark 6:3434And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.”

 

He even has mercy and compassion on those who stand in rebellion to God:

 

Matthew 23:3737O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”


            This is the reason that he has come to this earth and died; because of his love for us:

 

II Corinthians 8:99For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

 

Hebrews 4:1515For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

 

            Yet while the compassion and love of God and His son Jesus is greater far than we could ever imagine, he will not, can not indulge us in our sin as we as humans are prone to do for those that we love.

            He stops the funeral procession by placing his hand on the bier, the carrier they were using to carry the body and commanded the young man to rise up, raising him from the dead.  And then Luke records simply that:

 

v.1515And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.”

 

v.16-1716And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. 17And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.”

 

            Remember that a great multitude had followed Jesus from Capernaum; another large group of people were coming through the gate of the city of Nain with this funeral procession.  They all saw Jesus raise this man from the dead, they understood the miracle that they saw, there was no doubt in their minds what happened, they are amazed, they stand in awe of him and his power.  They acknowledge that one who is a man of God has come, but rather than understanding that he is the Messiah promised to Israel so many generation ago they look upon him as being as Elijah or Elisha or one of the other great prophets.  This information spreads throughout all the land, even into Judea.

 

v.18. “18And the disciples of John showed him of all these things.”

 

            Some of these people were disciples of John the Baptizer and they go and tell John about Jesus and what they have seen.  John has a question for Jesus.  Even though he baptized Jesus, even though he saw the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove; he still makes an inquiry.

 

v.1919And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?”

 

            Jesus, with his teaching and miracles, is turning the entire country upside down.  John the Baptizer is in prison, probably knows that his work is coming to an end, and wants to confirm that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the one for whom he was to prepare.  Just as we would be in his situation, perhaps his faith is wavering.  So he sends two of his disciples to Jesus.

 

v.20-2120When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?  21And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.”

 

            John’s disciples deliver his message.  We’re told that John was in prison down at the north end of the Dead Sea and we know that Jesus was teaching and preaching in Galilee so it was a journey of several days for them.

            Then we’re told that while these men were there; Jesus healed all manner of diseases, plagues, removed evil spirits and caused the blind to see.  What was the purpose of the miracles performed by Jesus and his disciples?  To confirm the source of his power, his teaching and his deity just as had been prophesied.

 

v.22-2322Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. 23And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

 

            Jesus tells John’ s disciples to tell John what they have seen and in doing so refers to Isaiah’s prophesy:

 

Isaiah 35:4-54Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.  5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.”

 

            There is no greater power, no better place to go to answer questions concerning the word of God than to that Word itself.  Just as we find when Jesus declared himself to those in the synagogue of Nazareth:

 

Luke 4:1818The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”

 

            Where he goes to Isaiah 61:1 and refers to that which has been written in God’s Word, the Bible to declare his identity and his mission.  So John’s messengers return with their answer.

 

v.24-25And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 25But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.”

 

            Would the fact that John was in prison be a detraction from his influence and the influence of his message?  In the minds of men, yes it would.  The people needed to understand the importance of John’s work and God’s purpose for him.  Jesus asks these people what they expected in order to impress upon them the importance of John and his work.  What did you expect; a man blowing in the wind like the reeds at side of the river?  What did you expect; a man living like a king, with all the comforts of life?  What are we told about God’s ways and man’s ways?

 

Isaiah 55:88For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”

 

v.26-27 26But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. 27This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

 

            Again he asks; what did you expect to find?  Then he declares that John is not just a prophet but is much more than a prophet, why?  Because of his purpose; he was to lead the way, he was to herald the coming of the Messiah promised to Israel, prepare the way of the Son of God himself.  The one written about by the last prophet that God had sent to the remnant of Israel:

 

Malachi 3:11Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

 

v.2828For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

 

            There is none greater that John the Baptizer, no other man under heaven has enjoyed the position of distinction that he enjoyed.  He was the guide and herald of the Son of God.  Oh, that doesn’t mean that he was any better than anyone else, in fact that is the very next point that Jesus makes.  Great as John was; there is none in the kingdom of God, in God’s family that is not greater than John.  Why?  Because of our relationship with God; we are his children, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, a holy nation (I Peter 2:9).

 

v.29-3029And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”

 

            Does the word “HEARD” here have a special meaning?  Absolutely; in this context it means that they not only physically heard the words of Jesus but that they also acted in response to these words.  Their hearing was an active, working hearing.  As a result of Jesus words concerning John they were baptized with John’s baptism, they obeyed the teaching of John.  That is, all but those that should have been most familiar with the scripture and most loyal to their profession as being the servants of God, the Pharisees and the doctors of the Law.  They set an example of disobedience and rebellion.  Do we have any parallel of this phenomena today?  Isn’t it mostly the most highly educated, those that should recognize and appreciate the Word of God today that are the most rebellious and disobedient?  Isn’t it the professors, counselors and doctors of religion today that are the most rebellious and disobedient toward God’s Word?  Jesus tells us what they are like; they like children squabbling in their play yard.

 

v.31-3231And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? 32They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.”

 

            They have a “I’m going to pick up my toys and go home attitude”.  These men are like the children when some play one game others will refuse to participate because they wanted to play something else.  Then when they change and play something the game that the others wanted;  they still don’t want to play because they just want to be contrary or they was to run the show.  They don’t want to be satisfied, they don’t want to be placated, they want it their way or no way.

 

v.33-3533For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. 34The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! 35But wisdom is justified of all her children.”

 

            Then he applies his analogy.  John the Baptizer came living in the wilderness, eating the common food found there and you call him strange, perhaps even possessed by a demon.  Then Jesus comes living amongst the people, eating with them, and associating with those that need him most and all they do is criticize him for that.  Again they are like the children squabbling in the marketplace while they play.

 

v.36  36And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.”

 

            One of these Pharisees invites him to come to his house for a meal and Jesus accepts.  But was he given a royal welcome, or even treated as a guest should have been under the customs of that day?

 

v.37-3837And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”

 

            While at the Pharisee’s feast or dinner a woman of that city, probably Capernaum, came.  Apparently one who apparently had a very bad reputation.  She may have even been a prostitute, all the scripture tells us is that she was a sinner and everyone recognized her as being a sinner.  This is not the same occurrence that we find recorded in Matthew 26 but a different time and a different place.

            It was the custom in high society to lay on a couch at a feast rather than sit at a table like we do today.  So we can picture Jesus being stretched out on this piece of furniture.  It is recorded that the woman came up behind him weeping, washed his feet with her tears and anoints them with her ointment.  This is a woman that this Pharisee wouldn’t even have allowed to touch him.  She’s vile, she’s a sinner, she’s an outcast in society.  So this Pharisee wonders:

 

v.3939Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”

 

            When Jesus doesn’t react to this woman with the same level of self-righteous indignation that he would have; this Pharisee wonders about Jesus and even comes to a conclusion.   This can’t be a prophet, or at least his notion about what a prophet of God should be, he allows this vile, disgusting woman to touch him. 

But Jesus answers this man’s thoughts, he doesn’t have to say what he thinks, Jesus already knows.

 

v.40 40And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.”

 

            Jesus addresses his host directly and by name telling him that he has something to say to him.  So he uses a parable, and illustration to get his point across:

 

v.41-4241There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”

 

            A certain creditor or lender of money had two debtors.  One owed a great sum, the other only a small amount.  He forgave them both, so who would be the most grateful?  And Simon knows the answer, just as we do.

 

v.4343Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”

 

            Simon responds that the one who was forgiven the greatest debt would be the most grateful and Jesus tells him that he is right.  Then he completes the lesson that he wanted to present.

 

v.44-4644And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. 46My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.”

 

            This vile, sinful woman, whom you despise has treated me better than you did.  This Pharisee had even ignored the common customs of that day in providing for Jesus as his guest.  They went barefoot or wore sandals and when someone came into your home you provided water for them to wash their feet as they were usually hot, dirty and tired.  Jesus tells Simon that he didn’t even provide him a proper greeting; sort of like we would be if we met someone at our front door and didn’t extend the hand of fellowship.  In fact, in business in this area shaking hands is not uncommon and something that I had to learn again when we moved from Michigan because it is not practiced there.  It was also a custom or sign of honor to anoint someone’s head with oil.  We remember the familiar verse of the 23rd Psalm:

 

Psalms 23:5 “THOU PREPAREST A TABLE BEFORE ME IN THE PRESENCE OF MINE ENEMIES: THOU ANOINTEST MY HEAD WITH OIL; MY CUP RUNNETH OVER.”

 

Simon didn’t do any of these things for Jesus but the woman, who was a sinner, looked down upon by Simon did.  So Jesus tells Simon this:

 

v.4747Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

 

            This woman, who in reality is just as vile with sin as Simon thinks she is, has come to Jesus in repentance for those sins.  She has wept bitter tears of godly sorrow, her love is greater far than what Simon has shown toward Jesus, therefore Jesus will forgive her sins.  Jesus love and compassion for us is exceeded only by the abundance of his grace and mercy.  Just as Paul writes:

 

I Timothy 1:14-1514And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

 

v.48-5048And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. 49And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

 

            He turns to the woman and tells her that her sins are forgiven.  But the Pharisees and others at the feast table still don’t understand who Jesus is.  They condemn him in their minds because he presumes to speak for God.  He has declared to them who he is, his miracles have confirmed that declaration; but they are rejecting him.  Again, he doesn’t need to be told what is in their hearts, he knows.  So he turns again to the woman telling her that her faith has saved her, she should go about her life in peace.  He knows her sin, he knows her faith, he knows her repentance and he forgives her sin.  The faith of this woman and the lack of faith of the supposed men of God is a wide contrast isn’t it?