LUKE 7=JESUS HEALS AND RESTORES LIFE!
Bible Background: Since last week’s controversy in the synagogue, Luke’s account tells of Jesus teaching the crowds (Sermon on the Plain), with special emphasis on “love your enemies”, “do not judge”, and “a good tree/person produces good fruit.” Now, Jesus continues to heal and bring life!
Digging Deeper: 1. Luke continues to report how Jesus’ life and ministry are “good news for all people!” The centurion, is at 1st glance “the enemy”. He’s part of the Roman occupying force. Yet this centurion loves the Jewish people, helped build their synagogue, and cares deeply for his slave-who is much more to him than a piece of ‘property’. Though he is an ‘outsider’ to the faith, his plea for healing is answered by Jesus. In fact, this man’s faith or trust in Jesus is highly praised!
2. Notice how important the intermediaries are in this story! Jewish elders approach Jesus. While on his way to the house, other messengers come. Would this healing have happened without people who spoke of Jesus? Or without people who spoke to Jesus? Pray that you might always know what to say to an ‘outsider’ who needs or is open to what Jesus and the church have to offer!
3. The Widow of Nain is a story unique to Luke. How bad are things? Very bad! A man is dead, and he was the widow’s only son (read as: “only means of support.”) She is in a terrible and sad spot! In this case, there’s nobody rushing to Jesus for help. He sees her grief and predicament and has compassion on her. He calls the young man back to life and gives him back to his mother! Note the response of the crowd: fear, amazement, and praise of God! Jesus is indeed declaring the ‘year of the Lord’s favor’, which he said he would do!
4. Obviously, the power of God in Jesus is on full display here. So is the compassion of God/Jesus! The word compassion literally means “to suffer with”. Jesus suffers with us! On the cross he suffers for us! How might Jesus’ compassion motivate us to have compassion? Who are the ‘least, the last, and the lost’ in our community? In the world? Remember that compassion requires some vulnerability on our part, and that is not a bad thing! And remember that compassion and ‘pity’ are not the same thing. The tragedies that befall our fellow humans do and should affect us!
5. What does the 1st healing story reveal to us about where ‘outsiders’ fit into God’s story? How could the compassion of Jesus lead us to work towards a more whole and just nation and world?
Next week’s reading is Luke 7:18ff.