What an exciting, instructive, encouraging read this is!
I’m sure we’ve noticed by now that Jesus is first of all a preacher and teacher, and then a healer. We see in this chapter an escalation in Jesus’ healing ministry. We’ve already seen healing occur in people who were present with Jesus, in a house or on a hillside, but now we see two different pictures.
First up, the centurion, who had heard the stories circulating about Jesus, sends his friends, the Jewish elders, to request Jesus’ presence to heal his beloved servant who is at death’s door. As Jesus nears the man’s house he is stopped by the centurion’s friends, who bring the now famous message, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof; please just say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Vs. 7)
You know Jesus’ response, “I haven’t found such faith before! Not even in Israel!” As far as we know, the servant had never been in Jesus’ presence. We don’t know if he’d even heard about Jesus or believed in him as the centurion did, but he was, indeed, healed by the time the messengers returned.
The following day, Jesus stopped a funeral procession to raise a young man, the only son of his mother, from the dead, just because he had compassion on her. Apparently, the mother was in no frame of mind to ask for help at this point, but Jesus’ compassion moved him anyway. And, surely, he saw his Father doing it. Can’t you just see the joy on Jesus’ face as he “gave him back to his mother,” (Vs.15)?
As the days go by, the people get the message, loud and clear, that Jesus is more than willing to heal and restore. Eager, in fact, to “undo the works” of satan on the earth.
But that didn’t just mean the healing of broken, sick and diseased bodies—not the only brokenness this chapter shows us.
Oh, the young “woman of the street”! The one with the alabaster jar of ointment! How precious and heart wrenching and heart warming is her story!
A Pharisee had invited Jesus to dinner, probably to debate him about the scriptures to trap him somehow. And that street woman, the whore, showed up! Without a word, she stood behind Jesus as he sat at the table, and she wept. We don’t know how long before she bowed, her tears washing Jesus’ feet until she had to dry them the only way she could, wiping them with her long beautiful hair before she poured out her precious offering. Jesus told his host, “…she loved much.”
I’ve wondered what had happened before this that made her love Jesus so much. Maybe she had been among the hordes of people who followed him. It’s possible a loved one had been healed of a horrible disease. Or had she heard him tell the people not to judge—-not to judge her? Or maybe grateful tears came because she believed it when he said his Father is “kind to the unthankful and the evil,” and she knew which one she was.
Whatever it was, how wonderful! Somehow, she had heard, she believed, she came, she worshiped, giving him perhaps the most valuable thing she owned. And Jesus called this faith, saying, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” It was that simple; that easy.
On a star lit night, thirty-or-so years before this, the angels sang, “Peace on Earth, goodwill to man.” Surely, these stories provide a picture, just in part, of what that looks like.
Joy to the world, indeed!
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor,” (Luke 7:22).