Still on my journey with Apostle Luke, 7:1-35 halts me. There are three accounts in this passage — the healing of the centurion’s servant (vv. 1-10), the raising of the widow’s son at Nain (vv. 11-17), and the confrontation with John the Baptist’s disciples (vv. 18-35). You know, before today, I never read this passage in context to see how all three work together. In this way I find a powerful example of synergy (combined action or operation) between Jesus, the centurion, the widow and John the Baptist. Each of these a grieving soul with an unscheduled appointment with Jesus, received what they each requested and/or needed.
From our perspective, the centurion’s glory is his great faith. He sent the elders of the Jews to intercede for him with Jesus (v. 3). This band of elder-intercessors besought (begged) Jesus to heal the centurion’s servant and declared his worthiness of attention because of his patriotism and philanthropy (v. 5). With humility, the centurion kept Jesus from coming all the way to his house, but sent friends ahead who spoke for him and insisted that Jesus but send the word for the servant’s healing.
From our perspective, the widow’s glory is the return of her son (also, the end of her loss…of protection). With her son’s death she was without protection and there was no one to provide for her. Jesus comes upon the funeral procession the day after He met the centurion, touches the coffin of the dead son, and calls for him to arise. “And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother” (v. 15).
From our perspective, the glory of John the Baptist is the long report of the miraculous (for which he opened the way). John’s disciples reported of the dead being raised, of sight returning to the blind, of the lame walking and lepers cleansed. John sent two of them back to Jesus to ask if he was “the one who should come” or should they set their expectation on another. Sometimes we are like this; we see the fruit of God’s love and presence through the miraculous but in our same place (situation unchanged) we say in essence, “Lord, what about me? Is my faith rightly placed?”
What I suggest is another perspective, or vantage point, that the glory lies better with Jesus — that He found the centurion’s faith, that He had compassion on the widow, and that He endorsed John the Baptist after John’s disciples departed.
What grabs me is that Jesus finds faith. The centurion followed the protocol of introductions; he sent people with a common tie to Jesus (Jewish elders) to open the communication. Then he sent friends from his home to make the request.
For me, this passage puts faith in another light. It is not just what I offer to the Lord. And, as I prayed for myself and others for years, it is not just what He can see (or what I ask Him to see). My faith is what He takes… He obtains… He finds.
And when He finds our faith — when He obtains, takes, receives it — do we know it by the word (centurion) or by the works (John)?
Just a thought. This is not for us to doubt, but I encourage us to press into this one and explore (meditate on) the Lord’s “finding” of our faith. We might include in our reflection the encounter with the sinful woman (vv. 36-50) to round out the discussion.
Selah, and love to all.
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