Jesus performs two miracles today:
- He heals a centurion’s servant after the centurion says, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus responds, “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.” This Gentile Roman officer has so much faith that it makes even Jesus marvel! Jesus is going to marvel again in a few days, but it will be at the lack of faith of the people in His own hometown, Nazareth, which is another reminder that we can not please the Lord without faith (Hebrews 11:6).
- Jesus shows compassion for a widow who is burying her son by touching the coffin of the young man and bringing him back to life. “Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us’; and, ‘God has visited His people.’ And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.”
Now John the Baptist, still in prison, starts to wonder if this is really the Christ so he sends his disciples to inquire of Jesus. Jesus responds, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Since all of these things were prophesied through the prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist is assured that Jesus is the Son of God sent for our salvation.
Jesus declares, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist.” As John is sitting in prison the people fail to recognize his greatness, just as they fail to recognize the deity of Jesus Christ. “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” The people find fault in both and do not have faith to believe that they were sent by the Lord — one as the messenger and the other as the Messiah. So Jesus gives a warning to the unbelievers— “But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” However, He also gives an invitation to all – “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
We end the reading with a sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and her hair and anointing them in oil. A religious Pharisee, Simon, believes if Jesus were truly a prophet, He would not let a sinful woman touch Him. Jesus rebukes the Pharisee by saying that this sinful woman did more for Him than he did since Simon did not even give Jesus water for His feet or kiss Him or anoint Him in oil. However, this desperate sinful woman hit her knees at the feet of Jesus — “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Then Jesus turns to the woman and says, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
In Dane Ortlund’s book Gentle and Lowly, he says, “In the one place in the Bible where the Son of God pulls back the veil and lets us peer way down into the core of who he is, we are not told that he is ‘austere and demanding in heart.’ We are not told that he is ‘exalted and dignified in heart.’ We are not even told that he is ‘joyful and generous in heart.’ Letting Jesus set the terms, his surprising claim is that he is ‘gentle and lowly in heart.’”
Dane Ortlund goes on to say, “And what did he do when he saw the unclean? What was his first impulse when he came across prostitutes and lepers? He moved toward them. Pity flooded his heart, the longing of true compassion. He spent time with them. He touched them… But there is something deeper in Christ’s touch of compassion. He was reversing the Jewish system. When Jesus, the Clean One, touched an unclean sinner, Christ did not become unclean. The sinner became clean… Jesus walked the earth rehumanizing the dehumanized and cleansing the unclean.”
Tomorrow we will continue to see Jesus rehumanizing the dehumanized and cleansing the unclean, so keep reading. (Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-17, Matthew 11:1-19, Luke 7:18-35, Matthew 11:20-30, Luke 7:36-50)