THE BOOK OF LUKE
Compassion for Sinners
Luke 7 SCC 4/3/16
MINISTRY IS POSSIBLE WHEN PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR IT
Verse 1-5: On the way back to Capernaum, after the sermon on the level place, Jesus was met by some Jewish elders representing a Centurion asking Jesus to heal the Centurion’s very sick slave. They reported, he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.
Verse 6-10: As Jesus approached his house he sent friends to say he was not worthy for Jesus to come in his house and that he understood his own, and therefore Jesus’, authority. Then Jesus told the crowd, not even in Israel have I found such great faith. When the friends got back they found the slave healed.
The question is why did Luke include this incident. To show that the evidence for faith was the recognition of authority. Which is why if you have faith in Jesus you will keep His commandments because you recognize His authority. The Jewish leaders denied Jesus had any authority, thus indicating their lack of faith.
NB: We should respond to people with a Christ like response. The centurion’s humble faith, recognizing Christ’s authority, triggered Christ’s response. Needs alone don’t create ministry opportunities. Ministry happens only when there are: (1) needs, (2) someone to meet those needs, and (3) a desire on the part of the one with the needs to have those needs met.
COMPASSION FOR NEEDY PEOPLE IS A CHRISTLIKE RESPONSE
Verse 11-14: Here we have the Raising the Widows Son at Nain. Three things should be noted here. (1) Jesus did this because of his compassion for the widow v 13; (2) Jesus initiated this, usually others asked Him for healing v 14; and (3) the result was Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God v 14.
Verse 15-17: He did it not because she asked Him to, as is usually the case, but because He felt compassion for her. Jesus initiated contact with those who had needs because He felt compassion for them. So glorifying God is connected to fearing God. In other words, their fear of God resulted in their glorifying God. When one agrees with God he will worship Him. When one disagrees with God He must fear Him. Fear of God and not the worship of God results in God being glorified. God is glorified when his people determine to submit to Him when they would rather disagree and disobey Him. This reveals that God is worthy of our submission which is the essence of worship.
NB: We should have compassion for needy people whether they ask for it or not. Jesus demonstrated compassion for the needy, whether they asked for it or not. Having compassion will always provide a platform for service to those in need who come across our path. This is a godly response.
EXPECTATIONS ABOUT CHRIST MUST ORIGINATE FROM SCRIPTURE
Verse 18-20: On the way back to Capernaum, Jesus was stopped by a delegation from John the Baptist, who were apparently wondering if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. John was essentially an Old Testament prophet who expected the Messiah to go to Jerusalem and start an earthly kingdom. When Jesus didn’t do that, John was confused.
Verse 21-23: Jesus told the messengers to report that He was fulfilling the Scripture Isaiah 61:1-2, that proved His Messiahship (7:22). Then Jesus added the potent verse 23, And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me. The point is to not stumble over Christ when what we learn about Him does not conform to what we think we already know. In other words, change your expectations.
NB: We must get our understanding of what Jesus does from the Scripture. Here the ministry of Jesus is authenticated from OT scripture not made up by Jesus sympathizers. It was not mere opinion. His ministry was grounded in the Word of God. It can be evaluated as authentic when compared to what the scriptures taught about it. So Jesus could point to prophecy which pointed to him with a track record.
Verse 24-28: When John’s disciples left, Jesus compared and contrasted His ministry with John’s. The difference was John came fasting and drinking no wine, whereas Jesus came eating and drinking (verses 33-34). But they both had the same message, the same righteousness, and the same directive style. Jesus basically said to the crowd, “What did you go out to see, a wimp?” (verses 24-25). Then Jesus talks to the people about John saying he fulfilled Malachi 3:1 and among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
Verse 29-35: Notice the similarity between Christ and John the Baptist:
1. Both appealed to tax gatherers and the people and were rejected by the Pharisees and lawyers
2. Both called people to repentance not ritual, religion, tradition, or self-acceptance.
3. Both fulfilled Scripture (verse 27).
4. Neither was swayed by social, political, or religious pressure, i.e., neither were a reed shaken by the wind (verse 24).
5. Neither looked like or lived like the other national political or religious leaders (verse 25).
6. Neither were generally accepted by the religious leadership of their generation.
NB: We should not be swayed by what is socially acceptable but we can be socially either liberal or
conservative. Jesus was socially liberal and John was socially conservative, but neither were swayed
by what was socially acceptable.
FORGIVEN SINNERS ARE TRANSFORMED INTO THE GREATEST LOVERS
Verse 36-39: Jesus was invited to dinner by a Pharisee named Simon, who lived in Capernaum. While He was there, a woman, who was a known sinner (probably a prostitute), came in weeping, wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair and anointing Him with perfume. Simon the Pharisee thought that if Jesus was really a prophet, He’d know better than to let her do that and disapprove. Instead Jesus (1) told him a parable, (2) taught him a basic spiritual principle, and (3) forgave the woman of her sins.
Verse 40-50: Christ responded to the Pharisee’s thoughts with the parable of the two forgiven debtors—one owed much, the other little. The point was that the one forgiven of more debt, like this woman, is more likely to respond with love for the forgiver than the one with only a little debt, which was how Simon the Pharisee saw himself. The lesson was—the one who is the most sin-sensitive is the most apt to be led by God. Jesus pointed out that this love and forgiveness described the sinful woman, not the Pharisee. Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” And while the others at the table thought “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
NB: We should respond to sin-sensitive people and point out the insensitivity of the insensitive. Jesus responded to the sin-sensitive woman and pointed out the insensitivity of the Pharisees. This response comes from greater sin-sensitivity not greater sin. The more we understand the word of God and his character, the more we realize we need to be forgiven of much and therefore the more we will love God. So our love of God will be directly connected to how sinful we see ourselves. The Pharisees, and today’s liberal educators, did not see themselves as in need of forgiveness so were incapable of loving God.
1. Jesus has authority from God that extends over space, distance, and disease. The healing he gives reveals the authority that he has to reverse the condition of those in need and he does not even need to be present for it to happen. Anyone can share in the benefits if they exercise faith. Luke is asking us to have the faith of the centurion. It appears the faith is connected to recognizing the authority of God.
2. Following Jesus is following compassionate action that is willing to reach out and meet the needs of those in distress. It means taking the initiative to comfort, restore, and address those needs with whatever resources God has supplied. Compassion is close to the heart of God. If we are not compassionate toward people we may be in trouble with God.
3. Everything we know of Christ is embodied in the Word of God. To go beyond this is to merely speculate about who he was or why he came or what he accomplished. That information and message is embedded in the scriptures which in turn provide an historical grammatical basis of truth about his person and work.
4. Faith expresses itself in love, gratitude, and devotion. Faith yields the fruit of forgiveness leading to the fruit of action which demonstrates the loving devotion faith has engendered. These are legitimate expressions of our faith.