Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s Foundations podcast. Today we’re looking at what we can take from Luke 7:1-17. This passage contains two stories; in my Bible they’re entitled the Faith of the Centurion and Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son. Two stories that have similarities but are in fact two very different situations. The first being a situation that Jesus was implored to come into and the second being a scene that He happened to walk into. Both of these stories follow our pattern of having unexpected moments when we’re around Jesus.
Whilst Jesus says some unexpected things, He himself is unexpected by the Jews at the time. He wasn’t the warrior King coming to overthrow the Roman Empire that they would have expected but instead a model of a new life, overflowing with love and compassion, and the power of God to back it up with truly miraculous acts. Before we get into the story, to help us to get into the spirit of this week I’d like to share with you one of my favourite Youtube videos. It’s called An Unexpected Christmas and is a video about the Christmas story produced by a Church in New Zealand.
They’re acting out the nativity story, one of the most unexpected stories ever told. Every so often a small child pops up, in a different outfit each time, to declare in a very cute New Zealand accent which I will not attempt, that ‘they won’t be expecting that!’ Check it out if you’ve not seen it. But imagine that line said each time something surprising happens in the story and I find it can really bring the scriptures this week to life!
On with today’s passage, let’s dive in to verses 6-10 to give us a sense of what’s happening, with the full passage at the end as usual.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “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. 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.
Here we have a Roman Centurion who has sent the Jewish elders to speak to Jesus and ask Him to heal his servant. He’s not a Jew but clearly has a world view and understanding of life that helps him to understand healing in this context. As a soldier he understands orders and authority. He sees them not as part of a debate but words that once spoken have real power, and they will undoubtedly come to pass. He recognises in some way that Jesus must have some kind of spiritual authority. He explains that he knows that once Jesus speaks something it will come to pass.
The Centurion’s understanding of spiritual authority allows him to fully engage with Jesus when it comes to healing. How do we see our relationship with Jesus? Sometimes our relationship with Jesus, both overall and in specific areas like this one, can become tainted by our imperfect human relationships. We take the bad habits we can pick up into our relationship with God. Learning to demand, to expect on our terms, to grovel, to big ourselves up, to bargain or even try to manipulate. Jesus doesn’t respond to these things. In this passage the only thing He responds to is the faith of the Centurion. The surety he expresses. Even Jesus expresses surprise at that, it’s worth pointing out! There’s a little challenge for us there to not be too surprised when Jesus answers our prayers, but to have the surety of the Centurion.
As we finish, what else can we be sure of today? The second story which we will hear in a few moments tells us of the compassion that Jesus has when He sees those in need. Whilst we don’t necessarily know how God might answer our prayers, or in fact struggle to see Him at work, this story is a reminder that He sees us and He has compassion on us. Verse 16 can be of great encouragement to all of us today. It reads: ‘God has come to help His people’.
Thank you Father that you have come to help us. You lived on earth that we might know you more and see the Kingdom life in action. Help us to remember today that you are for us and that simple faith in You is all we need to know that you are with us. Amen.
READING: Luke 7:1-17
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was ill and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 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.’ So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: ‘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. 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.
Soon afterwards, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 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.
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.’ This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.arkable things today.’