Luke 7-8

At the outset of his Gospel, Luke told Theophilus that after investigating the matters thoroughly, he set out to write an orderly account of the things that Jesus said and did (1.1-4).  In these chapters Luke emphasized the profundity of Jesus’ messianic words and deeds, and the various responses He received:

  1. A Roman Centurion responded in faith (7.1-10).  While the Jewish elders affirmed Jesus’ decision to visit the Centurion’s ill slave, saying “He is worthy for You to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue” (vv. 4-5), the centurion himself sent a delegation of friends to inform Jesus that he was unworthy to have the Messiah come to his home (v. 6)!  The centurion’s focus was not on his worth but on Jesus’ power; he said, “Say a word, and my servant will be cured.  For I too am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under my command.  I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it’” (v. 8).  Jesus commended the Roman and said, “I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel!” (v. 9)
  2. A childless widow responded in faith (7.11-17).  While in the earlier story two delegations approached Jesus for help, here Jesus came upon the unfortunate situation at Nain.  Filled with compassion, Jesus healed the widow’s son.  Luke emphasized the response of those who had earlier been a part of the funeral procession: “Then fear came over everyone, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us,’ and ‘God has visited His people’” (v. 16)
  3. The Pharisees did not respond to John or Jesus (7.18-35).  Jesus was indignant over the Pharisees and their forefathers because their spiritual stupor prevented them from repenting when confronted by God’s messengers.  Jesus compared them to children in a marketplace calling to one another: “We played the flute for you, but you didn’t dance; we sang a lament, but you didn’t weep!” (v. 32).  Nonetheless, “wisdom” (v. 35), or God’s wise eschatological plan displayed by the ministries of John and Jesus, would be vindicated by her children.  Who were those children?  The ones who faithfully responded to God’s messengers.  The Pharisees contemporary with Jesus had missed the signs of the times
  4. Lavish love is the response of those who have received Messiah’s forgiveness (7.36-50).  When Jesus was dining at Simon the Pharisees house, a sinful woman from the area boldly entered and washed Jesus’ feet.  Jesus defended the sinful woman’s display of love in light of the fact that Simon failed to offer Him water for washing.  The woman’s act of love to Jesus was natural and expected, the norm for one who had received such extravagant love from Messiah; He told her: “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace” (v. 50).  This event may have provided Luke the opportunity to expand the idea just a bit.  Fact was, many women were supporting Jesus because they had received the benefits of His ministry (8.1-3)
  5. Only those who have been enabled can respond faithfully to the Messiah’s message (8.4-21).  Jesus used the parable of the sower to communicate the reality that only the good soil responds appropriately to the scattered word.  Thus, at the end of the day, the underlying soil will be revealed by the visibility of its crop.  Jesus’ inference was clear: “Take care how you listen” (v. 18), He said, since those who have the ability to understand the word will receive more of it, and even the word sown will be taken from those who are unable to respond in faith.  So significant is this faithful response that Jesus defined His family not by blood lines, but by “those who hear and do the word of God” (v. 21)
  6. Jesus’ disciples need to respond faithfully to His word—since Jesus has power over the natural and spiritual realms (8.22-39).  It may be that Luke here emphasized the power of Jesus’ word over the storm-tossed sea and demons who inhabited the tomb-dwelling Gerasene, so as to provide a rationale for the reliability of Messiah’s word.  If He can do these kinds of things, what logical grounds would one have for not trusting Him?
  7. A faithful response to Messiah is often marked by desperation (8.40-56).  Luke emphasized the desperation of both Jairus, a leader of the synagogue (v. 41), and the woman who suffered bleeding for 12 years (v. 43).  Both were despairing, frantically sought Jesus’ aid, and received mercy.  The point?  Jesus’ messianic benevolence was not limited to Israel

In Luke 7-8 the author recorded some of Jesus’ messianic miracles and how folk of the day responded to Him.  He was a polarizing leader, and it seemed that many had an opinion to share.  From Jesus’ interaction with those who inquired of Him—especially His use of Old Testament texts—it is clear that He understood Himself as the focal point of the storyline of Scripture.  His ministry had continuity with the prophets of Israel, but ushered in an era that was qualitatively superior:

  1. In Luke 7.27, Jesus affirmed John the Baptist’s role as His messenger by quoting Mal 3.1.  The Gospel writers record how many evaluated Jesus during the early stages of His Galilean ministry.  Over time John the Baptist began to re-evaluate his cousin.  John had baptized Jesus (3.21), but was soon jailed for preaching against Herod the tetrarch.  While Jesus was thus ministering throughout Galilee, proclaiming the good news and healing many—acts that pointed to His Messiahship (cf. Isa 35.5-6)—John was left in prison.  John thought that Messiah would not only preach and heal, but also exercise God’s eschatological wrath upon Israel’s enemies—as Isaiah had predicted: “Say to the faint-hearted: ‘Be strong; do not fear!  Here is your God; vengeance is coming.  God’s retribution is coming; He will save you’” (35.4).  John thus sent his disciples to inquire of Jesus; was He legitimate?  The Lord answered with deductive reasoning, affirming that John was in fact the messenger who’d been sent according to Mal 3.1, “Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You; he will prepare Your way before You” (7.27).  Since John was the messenger of the Lord, the Lord had indeed arrived.  While Jesus emphasized John’s greatness, He also pointed out that an entirely new day had dawned in His coming, saying: “The least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (7.28)
  2. In Luke 8.10, Jesus employed the words of the prophet Isaiah to explain His use of parables.  As Jesus’ popularity grew, prompted primarily by the miraculous signs He performed, He began to teach in parables.  This was on purpose; learning from a parable required ears that had been enabled to discern the thrust of the figure.  When the disciples became puzzled about Jesus’ teaching method and inquired of Him, He replied, “The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that: ‘Looking they may not see, and hearing they man not understand’” (8.10b; cf. Isa 6.9).  Jesus quoted from the section of Isaiah that records the prophet’s call experience.  Isaiah was sent to preach in Judah during the Assyrian advance—a time when the hearts of the people were not receptive to God’s messenger.  From Jesus’ statement the reader can conclude that the parables He employed served the dual purpose of both revealing the truth of His kingdom to those who had been made perceptive and hiding it from the hardened

*For a complete list of references, please see scripturestoryline.com

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