Study Notes

Luke 7:1-35


A centurion was an officer in the Roman army. Remember, the Romans were occupying the Jews' homeland. If you picture this scene in France during WWII, it would be like a Nazi officer going to a French citizen for help.

7:4-5 Why does Jesus go?

We get the impression that Jesus is going to help out because the centurion is a nice guy. The Lord doesn't make judgments based on our apparent "righteousness", for Isaiah says

Isa. 64:6 "...All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment..."

And remember, this guy is a gentile. When a gentile woman asked Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter, Jesus said,

Matt. 15:24 ..."I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

So why does Jesus go to bless this gentile? To keep a promise. You see, this man had blessed the Jews. He loved their nation, and had financed the building of their synagogue. The promise that Jesus was keeping was God's very first promise to Abraham was back in Genesis 12:

Gen. 12:3 "And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse..."

Jesus was keeping the promise given to Abraham and his descendants. If you're looking for a blessing, put Israel and the Jews at the top of your prayer list. And bless them every chance you get.


In the book of Acts, when Peter was called to Caesarea, he told the gentile group that was waiting for him,

Acts 10:28 ..."You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him..."

The Jews never made any secret about not wanting to be "defiled" by being in the presence of a gentile. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was arrested and brought before Pilate, it says that:

John 18:28 They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.

The Roman centurion knew the Jews wouldn't associate with, pay a visit to, or be defiled by, a gentile. he sends word saying, "I'm not worthy for You to come to my house - Just heal my servant from where You are."

Jesus Marveling and Wondering

Jesus marveled at the man's faith. The Bible records that Jesus was only amazed at one thing: the state of people's faith. The unbelief of the people in His hometown, and the great faith of this Gentile Centurian. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that faith is the gift of God. And Romans 12:3 says that:

Rom. 12:3 ...God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

So why does Jesus marvel at our faith? Isn't He the One that gave it to us in the first place? Yes, but what we do with it is up to us. Our faith can do one of two things: Be built up, or torn down. It can be built up by hearing the Word of Christ, and, as Jude says, by

Jude 20-21 ...praying in the Holy Spirit; keep(ing) yourselves in the love of God, (and) waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Or it can be torn down. Our hearts can...

Hebr. 3:13 hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hardened into unbelief. God has allotted to each of us a measure of faith. And what we do with it amazes Jesus - we either cause it to grow, or cause it to die.

7:11-13 Jesus Feels Your Hurt

Imagine her misery. Not only has her son died, but there was no Social Security plan back then. The fact that this woman is a widow, and her only son is dead means that she is now doomed to be destitute. You can only imagine her hurt - looking backward at the husband and son she'd lost, and looking forward to a bleak and poverty-stricken future. Jesus felt compassion for her. The book of Romans tells us to:

Rom. 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Jesus did this, and still does today. When we're rejoicing, He's rejoicing with us. When we're hurting, He's hurting with us. Never forget that the Lord feels your hurt. No matter what the situation or circumstance, you're not alone.


Luke 7:14 ...And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!"

Have you ever noticed in the Bible that Jesus talks to the dead? When Lazarus had been dead for four days, He had them roll away the stone, and

John 11:43 ...He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."

And Lazarus came forth! He told us in John 5 that one day,

John 5:25 "...the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live."

And Paul reiterated it in 1Thessalonians:

1Ths. 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

Jesus speaks to those who are physically dead - calling them to life. And He speaks to those who are spiritually dead, dead in their sins, calling them to life in Christ.

But maybe YOU feel dead today. Maybe you're dead tired or dead broke. Maybe you're dead in your tracks or you've just hit a dead end. Whatever your condition, you can be resuscitated, resurrected. How? The same way as this widow's son was. The same way Lazarus was. By hearing Jesus speak to you. By hearing the Word of God.

7:17-20 Beginning to Doubt

John the Baptist had proclaimed the coming of the Messiah - saying, "Prepare the way of the Lord!" Preaching repentance from sin. Publicly denouncing the sin of Herod. But he was arrested and thrown in prison. He must have thought, "No problem! Surely, the Messiah will come into His kingdom quickly! He'll decimate these Romans and liberate me from jail!" But that was some time ago. Jesus still hadn't captured, conquered, or come through. John was bummed, discouraged, beginning to question now - "Nothing's happened. I wonder - is Jesus the One, or should I be looking for someone else?"

Many times we feel like that. "Lord, I'm a captive! I'm in prison! I'm caught in this trial! Why haven't you come through for me? If You're so powerful, why am I still stuck in this place?" We begin to question, to doubt. What's the solution when we're in such a state?

7:21-23 The Solution for Doubt

Jesus sends back John's disciples saying, "Go tell John what you've seen and heard." John's going to have to change his way of thinking. You see, Jesus didn't come the first time to reign and rule - that is reserved for His second coming. His first visit was a mission of mercy. John needs to realize that his expectations of what Jesus is supposed to do and how He's supposed to be are wrong - at least for the time being.

The solution for our doubt is the same. We think Jesus must deliver us from this trial or that tribulation. What if He wants to deliver us through it instead of from it? What if Jesus is working in a way that you hadn't expected? What if he is showing mercy instead of His fire and fury? Trust that Jesus knows what He's doing - have faith in Him, not in what you believe He's supposed to do.

7:24-28 John is the the Greatest

Jesus says that John was the greatest prophet. You see, all the other prophets proclaimed, "Messiah is coming!" Only John had the special privilege of proclaiming, "Messiah is here!"

So why is the least greater than John? Because of something Jesus said in the gospel of Mark.

Mark 9:33-35 And they came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, "What were you discussing on the way?" But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. And sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all."

If you want to be great in God's kingdom, you don't strive for the highest position, the most authority, or the biggest paycheck. You become the least of all those around you. You become a servant. It is then that you become greater than even John the Baptist.

7:29-30 Rejecting Repentance

They rejected God's purpose because they rejected John's message. They rejected John's baptism. What was John's message? What was John baptism? Repentance. Turning from sin. If a person won't accept repentance, then they have rejected God. How can I say that? Because the gospel of Jesus Christ begins with repentance from sin. How could anyone need a Savior if they won't acknowledge that they need to be saved from sin?

7:31-35 The Men of this Generation

Have you ever tried to entertain a fussy baby? Look at this ball! Wah. Let's play with this stuffed animal. Wah. Peek a boo! Wah. I'll sing you a lullaby. Wah. No matter what you do, they will not be entertained, they will not stop fussing.

God had sent John proclaiming gloom and doom, fire and brimstone - but they wouldn't weep. He sent Jesus with love and joy, grace and mercy - but they wouldn't laugh. God sent the message to them every way possible, but the Pharisees accepted none of it.

Then He says,

Luke 7:35 "Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children."

When we look at John and Jesus, we see two different methods of ministry. But they're not contradictory - they're complementary. Both the flute and the dirge had the same result in those who received it: The disciples of John repented and turned to God. The disciples of Jesus repented and turned to God. God's wisdom was proven by the results.

So which should we be? Living examples of the seriousness of John, or the joyfulness of Jesus? Should we be preachers of repentance, or ministers of grace? Should we be fasting or feasting? The answer to all these questions is: both. We must be living repentance from sin, but also forgiveness for sin. There must be a sorrowfulness because of sin, and a joyfulness because it's been forgiven.

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