Luke 7 (1)
Pray Psalm 47.7-9.
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.
Sing Psalm 47.7-9.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God is the King of all the earth; sing praise to Him with glorious psalms!
He rules the nations by His worth, and on His throne receives their alms.
Princes of peoples gather all to Abraham and to our God.
Exalt the Lord, and on Him call – the earth is His, so praise our God!
Read and meditate on Luke 7.1-10.
1. How did Jesus know about the centurion’s servant?
2. What did He say about the centurion’s faith?
This vignette contains many important teachings to help us in seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God, the new regime of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit that Jesus came to bring near and establish.
The grace leading to abundant life, which is the power of this new Kingdom, is available to all who seek it from Jesus – Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, healthy and sick. We note the mindset of the Jews of Jesus day: They considered that the favor of God was something to be earned (vv. 4, 5). Wherever we see these people in the gospels it is clear they consider themselves to have earned the favor of God more than the crowds and certainly more than the Gentiles. Jesus’ whole ministry was designed to demonstrate the folly of that thinking and to exalt the grace and mercy of God instead. The centurion had, indeed, done good works; but he did not regard himself as deserving anything from the Lord.
We note his humility (v. 6). He had faith to send for Jesus, faith to request only that He speak from a distance, and faith to understand the great authority Jesus wielded (vv. 3, 7, 8). He sought nothing for himself, only that his beloved servant might be healed. He believed because he had “heard about Jesus” and reckoned that He had the grace and power to heal his servant. Jesus “marveled” at his “great faith”, like nothing He had seen thus far throughout Israel (v. 9). He made sure to impress this on those who were following Him (v. 9), so they would follow the centurion’s example of faith working out of humility and love.
Jesus is looking for “such great faith” from us. He calls us to humble ourselves before Him, seek His Kingdom power for making all things new, and rest in His authority and love to do for us whatever He deems best.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Jesus is so much bigger and grander, wiser and more powerful, than any of us finite creatures can imagine. To make Him more manageable and understandable, we mistakenly try to cram Him into a box of our own making; to make Him easier to follow. But we do greatly err to attempt this: As Jesus said, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins…” (Lk. 5.37). He gloriously bursts the boundaries into which we put Him and does the unexpected. He is to be praised and honored!
The Pharisees tried to do this. They kept expecting Him to be what they expected Him to be. But He wasn’t.
In Matthew 15.21-28 we read of a similar encounter. When in the region of Tyre and Sidon, a woman of Canaan cried out to Him, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!” She too, was appealing to Him based on His relationship with the Jewish nation, just as the centurion did, by sending Jewish elders to plead his case. At first, Jesus chose to ignore her. Then He answered her by saying, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Unexpected? Yes, in a way, as it seems like a harsh response. But it was merely the set-up for her daughter’s healing, and His praise to her for her great faith.
Jesus’ life was continually lived in unexpected ways, but He always did just what the situation demanded. The point being to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and how it works outside the box of man’s contriving. We may not always understand why, but we will do well to learn from Him. Our dependence on His Holy Spirit is the key to wiser behavior.
Both the Canaanite woman and the centurion were at a point of dire need. “My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word” (Ps. 119.28). They both knew where to turn for help. They both had the faith to believe that Jesus could accomplish their greatest desires. They were both commended by Jesus for their complete trust in Him.
Such great faith can be ours; but only as we put our full hope in Him. We cannot put Him in a box of our imaginations and dreams, almost “helping” Him try to figure out the best way to run our lives for us. Because the truth is, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me. When as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139.16). He’s got this under control.
May we have the faith of these two unlikely people. And let us rest assured that God is God, and He will do what He wants, when He wants, and how He wants. He is not constrained by our fancies, nor our rules and regulations, nor our expectations. “For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!” (Is. 12.6)
1. What was so great about the centurion’s “great faith”?
2. What are your expectations of Jesus? Do they line up well with what He has promised?
3. What do we learn about life in the Kingdom from the story of the centurion’s faith?
How great is the sign of divine humility, that the Lord of heaven by no means disdained to visit the centurion’s servant! Faith is revealed in deeds, but humanity is more active in compassion. Ambrose of Milan (333-397), Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 5.84
Pray Psalm 47.1-6.
Praise the Lord Jesus, exalted in glory! Call on Him to subdue nations and peoples under the power of the Gospel, that they might praise Him gladly with us.
Sing Psalm 47.1-6.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
O clap your hands, you peoples all, with joy to God your songs intone!
Shout out to Him, and on Him call, He is the mighty, sovereign One!
High is the Lord, O, fear His Name! He rules, a King o’er all the earth.
Nations and peoples He has tamed, the heritage of His holy worth.
God has ascended with a shout, the Lord with sound of trumpet bold!
Sing praise to Him, let praise ring out! Let praise through all the world be told!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.