Luke 7: Faith & Need

A Roman centurion, a Jewish widow, and a woman of ill repute evoke deep emotions in Jesus.  Meanwhile, the Pharisees lurk everywhere around in the shadows and they stir up Jesus’ anger.  This surely is the Gospel of Luke.

A Roman centurion believes that if Jesus just says the word his slave will be healed from afar, especially because the centurion believes he is unworthy to entertain this great rabbi in his house.  Jesus was “astonished” (7:9) by this level of faith yet to be encountered amongst the Jews and heals the slave.

Jesus walks up on a widow — about to hit one of the lowest rungs of their society — whose dead son is being carried out to be buried.  Jesus sees this and is “very sorry for her” (7:13), so he raises the boy back to life.

“Anointing Jesus’ Feet” by Frank Wesley

A woman of “a known bad character” (7:37) barges into a dinner party at a Pharisees house and anoints his feet with costly oil and her tears of repentance.  Jesus falls all over himself praising her for the hospitality she gave that Simon had not.

There are two things Jesus responds to: faith and need.  Unfortunately, the more religious you are the less you need faith.  Religion has a way of making us far too sure of our own righteousness.  Sadly, the higher up the social ladder we are, the less we need or at least sense that we need.  But when we realize how much we need, how unworthy we are of blessing, how unholy we are Jesus opens the doors of his blessings.  At these moments our hearts are open to receive great love and in response show great love.

So the conclusion I draw is this: she must have been forgiven many sins!  Her great love proves it!  But if someone has been forgiven only a little, they will love only a little. (7:47)

What caught your eye in this chapter?

Categories: Luke | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Luke 7: Faith & Need

  1. Umm Muhamamd

    Hi Jason,

    “Religion has a way of making us far too sure of our own righteousness.”

    The above line reminded me of this:
    {Do not ascribe purity to yourselves. Allah knows best who is righteous.} (53:32)

    One of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) said: “Indeed a servant commits a sin by which he enters Paradise; and another does a good deed by which he enters the Fire.” It was asked: How is that? So he replied: “The one who committed the sin, constantly thinks about it; which causes him to fear it, regret it, weep over it and feel ashamed in front of his Lord – the Most High – due to it. He stands before Allaah, broken-hearted and with his head lowered in humility. So this sin is more beneficial to him than doing many acts of obedience, since it caused him to have humility and humbleness – which leads to the servant’s happiness and success – to the extent that this sin becomes the cause for him entering Paradise. As for the doer of good, then he does not consider this good a favour from his Lord Upon him. Rather, he becomes arrogant and amazed with himself, saying: I have achieved such and such, and such and such . So this further increases him in self adulation, pride and arrogance – such that this becomes the cause for his destruction.”

    This is how we believe in Jesus’ miracles
    {…’Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah . And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.} 3: 49

    Umm Muhammad

    • Thanks again for your unique viewpoint on this reading. I do value that. I really like the commentary you included with the surah. So true!

  2. Pat

    I was struck by the responses and emotions of Jesus in this chapter.
    1) He is responsive to the request of the Roman captain and amazed at his faith.
    2) His heart broke for the widow whose son had died.
    3) He demonstrates to John’s disciples who he is.
    4) He recognizes John’s great contribution.
    5) And finally, he responds to the self-righteousness of Simon and to the gratefulness of the woman whom he forgave.

    I am struck by the fact that he is so human. And it gives me hope. God became a man; He knows what it is to be a man.

    • So true!

      • Umm Muhamamd

        Hi Jason,

        I know we have had this discussion before. I can’t still come to terms and I never can come to terms with the fact that God became man, to understand what it is to be a man. Like I have said before, God is All-knowing . He doesn’t have to become a man to know how it is to be a man. But then you said that knowing is not like experiencing. This is again comparing God to us. For us knowing is not like experiencing. God compasses everything in His infinite knowledge and wisdom. If I was to agree for the sake of argument , yes he did become man to know the pains of man like hunger etc. Then I have another question. Jesus peace be upon him only experienced the pain that he went through. He can’t feel the pain of others. He sympathizes with others but he can’t feel their pain. Everybody has a different situation. He doesn’t know what it is to loose one’s child. He never married so never had a child. He doesn’t know what it is like to give birth, that’s a lot of pain. Imagine if a man dies and he has a wife and kids and siblings and parents. God Almighty knows the pain of each and every individual. All of them don’t feel the same intensity of pain because what a wife feels would be different from what a mother feels and yet different what the children feel. Jesus couldn’t be in all of their shoes at the same time. He has to be in their shoes to feel the pain according to the concept of god becoming man to feel human. So I find the concept of god becoming a man to know what it is to be human to be inconsistent. This is attributing ignorance to the knowledge of God Almighty.

        Here is a link that explains about the concept of God that I am sure you and every Christian will agree to. And not just Christians but anyone even with the tiniest bit of faith that there is a God will accept to the concepts mentioned here. I hope you and others will listen to it with an open mind. This has some very profound insights which everyone will benefit God willing.

        Umm Muhammad

        • I would contend that becoming human so as to experience life as a human so as to become the perfect high priest with experiential knowledge is only one small piece of the puzzle that is incarnation. There are other reasons, most importantly that God decided to die a physical and substitutionary death for us. That required a physical incarnation, of course. Another piece of the puzzle would be that Jesus lived a representative human life so as to be an example of how to live life the way God intended it to be lived.

          You are certainly right that Jesus could not have experienced every element of human life so as to know it and relate to it. And I can see that there is a degree to which that attributes ignorance to God. Of course, if God choose to limit his knowledge, he would be unknowing in some areas, and it could be that there is a more loving reason to justify that.

          We might be back to a basic difference in our world views between an Islamic emphasis on power and a Christian emphasis on love. Of course, that too is to oversimplified.

  3. Pingback: Face to Face With Jesus (Part 3 of 10) « God Speaking

  4. Umm Muhamamd

    Hi brother Jason,

    I have been quite busy due to Ramadan (the month of fasting), and couldn’t keep up with your posts.

    Just wanted to tell a few more points.

    1. We all have a certain idea about God, no matter which background we come from, because this is ingrained in us as human beings. So we all know that God is all-knowing all-powerful, all-just etc. It doesn’t befit God to do certain things no matter what. Like God can’t lie and God can’t be unjust. We can’t say, “God is all-powerful, He can’t do everything and He does whatever He likes; and so He can lie and He can be unjust if He chooses to be. Will you accept such a statement from someone about the Creator of Heavens, Earth, you and me?

    It’s like the atheist’s question:
    Can God create a stone heavier than Himself that He can’t lift?
    It’s an absurd question. We are pushed into a corner where we can’t say either yes or no. What will you answer such a person?

    Won’t you say to such a person, “Well God is All-powerful and He can do everything in what is consistent in being God, and such a question is absurd.”

    So that’s what it is. God does everything that is consistent in being God.

    It’s not just an aspect of power that we see from:

    1. Can you choose to be ignorant of somethings that you know? You are not like a PC where you can just uninstall some stuff when you like and reinstall it when you like. You can’t do it. And certainly God can’t do it, not coz he is not powerful coz this is just absurd as the atheist’s question. So certainly this saying that God chose to limit his knowledge is a deficiency in God’ knowledge.

    2. You said about Grace (in an over-simplified way) that we don’t deserve to live coz of our sins…True, very true. This is why God let us live by His immense Mercy. He let generations and generations of people live from Adam until Jesus without any sort of sacrifice. So why for us we need a sacrifice all of a sudden? God is all merciful and all-loving to forgive us without a sacrifice if we ask for it sincerely. That is God’s immense love and Mercy and grace if you may call it. to say that God kills his son (himself physically) to forgive us is undermining his mercy, love, grace etc. If there was any sacrifice to be done, it should have been when Adam and Eve (peace be upon them) committed the sin of disobeying God’s orders, And it was done at their time and it was done for centuries. And didn’t God call many of his servants as righteous in the old testament before Jesus peace be upon him set his foot on earth? So how did they earn righteousness without the sacrifice? Aren’t the people before jesus peace be upon him going to heaven? Weren’t they forgiven without this sacrifice? So its not fair that we should have a human sacrifice.

    If Jesus did die for our sins, if he paid a price for it all. Then why do we have to live a righteous life? If the robber, thief, murderer and every major sinner who accepts Jesus as their savior is going to enter heaven without any problem as every other righteous christian who accepts Jesus as their savior in the same way, then it is certainly not fair for the righteous Christians. Will the sinners suffer for their crimes in the hereafter? Or will they not be because they accepted Jesus peace be upon him?

    Doesn’t Christianity provoke many questions that to give answers.

    Umm Muhammad

    • Brother!

      salam alaikum. I grew up with muslims and have a lot of friends with.
      I hope you don’t mind me chimming in. grace and peace be upon you.

      let me establish first the context on righteousness
      1. righteousness through faith in Jesus
      2. righteousnes by works through the Law

      the only righteousness that saves us in judgement is
      1. righteousness through faith in Jesus

      ok… i divided my comments

    • @”He let generations and generations of people live from Adam until
      Jesus without any sort of sacrifice”

      Romans 3:25

      “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood
      through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness,
      because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins
      previously committed;

      for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the
      present time, so that He would be just and the justifier
      of the one who has faith in Jesus ”


      when Adam sinned they covered themselves with “Leaves”.
      but God killed an “animal” and cloth Adam with its skin.
      notice there was sheding of blood.

      then God promised to Adam a seed that will crush the serpent.

      now, Cain and Abel Adam’s sons gave their offerings to God.
      Abel’s sacrifice was “accepted”
      Cain’s was NOT accepted.

      why Abel’s accepted? because it involves sheding of blood.
      Abel’s offering was an animal sacrifice.

      Look at Abraham in mount Moriah.

      God told Abraham to offer Isaac, his only son the son whom he loved.
      (genesis 22:2)

      when Abraham was about to slay his Son, God stopped him.
      what was God’s doing?

      God was portraying that out of Abraham’s seed, will come out the Messiah, Jesus. God was saying, in the future, Jesus will be slain and will die
      for the sins of all peoples of the earth.

      the sins commited by the whole world before Jesus died at the cross, where pass-over, skipped by God. because God was looking forward to the future where all the sins of man will be punished.

    • @”And didn’t God call many of his servants as righteous in the
      old testament before Jesus peace be upon him set his foot on earth?”

      Righteousness by Faith. those who are called by God righteous in the
      old testament, where simply righteous because they believe in God.

      notice God establish sacrifices, burnt offerings. it all speaks of Jesus death.

      so when they offer the perfect sacrifices to God, God ignores their sins
      and looks forward to Jesus as their righteousness.

      today, Jesus has fulfilled righteousness. Jesus is not seated at the
      right hand of God. He is our righteousness. we put our faith in Him.

    • @”Aren’t the people before jesus peace be upon him going to heaven?”

      as far as I know, those who are righteous who died before Jesus death did not go to heaven yet, but to Paradise.

      then when Jesus died for their sins (yes they were sinners),Jesus went
      to the Paradise and got all of em and brought them to heaven.

      the thief at the cross who puts his faith in Jesus went to Paradise as
      Jesus says “today you will be with me in paradise”.

    • @”Weren’t they forgiven without this sacrifice?

      its like a Credit Card. the actual payment comes to you at the
      end of the month.

      their sins were pass-over. the animal sacrifices performed in the past
      did not take away sins. it atone for sins. cover for sins. but the sins
      were still there.

      the actual payment of sins were with Jesus.

    • @”If Jesus did die for our sins, if he paid a price for it all.
      Then why do we have to live a righteous life?”

      to ‘live’ a ‘righteous life’ on earth is for the the benefit of our
      neighbors. it makes us ‘visually different’ from the rest,
      while the world is full of murderers, thieves, sexual immorals,
      we however who ‘practice righteousness’ makes us visually
      different from the rest of them.

      this righteouness has nothing to do with ‘righteousness by faith’

      the good works we do ‘DOES NOT’ make us righteous before God.

      God’s righteousness is by Faith.

      “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
      – Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6

      so when a murderer sees us do ‘righteous/good works’, the murderer
      soon finds out we are God’s children then praises God.
      an opportunity to tell him salvation.

    • @”If the robber, thief, murderer and every major sinner who
      accepts Jesus as their savior is going to enter heaven without
      any problem as every other righteous christian who accepts Jesus
      as their savior in the same way, then it is certainly not fair
      for the righteous Christians”

      the scripture says :
      “there is no one who is righteous not even one”
      -Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:11; Psalms 14:3, 53:3;

      the righteous christian is once a sinner. everyone is a sinner.
      remember good works or righteous works does make a person righteous.

      a righteous (by faith) person does righteous work.

      a sinner (all are sinners, until righteous by faith) can do good works
      but a sinner can never be righteous by doing good works

      the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law during Jesus time here on earth
      were the ones righteous by good works. they cannot accept grace because
      grace enables us to become righteous by faith.

      so everyone is unrighteous a sinner unless their righteousness is by faith.

    • @”Will the sinners suffer for their crimes in the hereafter? Or will
      they not be because they accepted Jesus peace be upon him?

      the sinners, who are sinners by birth because of Adam’s sin.
      will suffer the consequence of Adam’s sin. that is death.

      a sinner is a sinner because of Adam’s sin.
      a sinner is not a sinner because he has commited a sin. no, a sinner
      is a sinner because he is born a sinner. just like a goat is a goat
      and a cat is a cat.

      a sinner who puts his Faith in Jesus as his righteousness, will not be
      condemn. because Jesus becomes his SUBSTITUTE.

      its like that Jesus becomes his PROXY. so all punishment goes to Jesus.

      now, your next question must be
      ‘will the sinner who accepts Christ, continue in sin’

      the answer is no. a sinner dies to himself when he puts
      his faith in Jesus. a man is born again and becomes a new creation.

      so a sinner is now a saint. a righteous person, that is
      righteous by faith through Jesus.

      Last words. this is my belief, and not neccesarily representing the whole

      Christianity is not about doing good works.
      Christianity is about substitution.

      Jesus is my righteousness. I am not condemn in judgement day,
      Because Jesus was condemn for me. He is my representative.
      it was me who is supposed to be hang at the cross, beaten, punished.
      but Jesus took them all for me.

      – grace and peace be upon you

    • Thank you to savedbygrace for some substantial responses. I believe many of your questions have been addressed. I am afraid my time is limited (as I know yours is as well this month) so three quick points.

      1. Justice: God through Jesus takes sin much more seriously that any other deity. God sees sin as so serious there must amends made, hence sacrifice. If sin only requires divine forgiveness without payment or sacrifice, why doesn’t Allah just forgive everyone? If it doesn’t cost Allah anything, why not forgive? And where is the justice in forgiveness without sacrifice? God found a way in Jesus to extend mercy while also maintaining justice.

      2. Power: Death has its grip on humanity — we die. Sin has its grip on humanity — we commit sins, even when we don’t want to. Satan has power to test, torment, and tempt — and he does. Does God possess superior power to Death, Sin, and Satan? Sure, we can say He does, but where is the evidence? The evidence is that Jesus died and was resurrected. Jesus made a way for sin to be forgiven. Jesus allowed sinners to escape from the hands of Satan. And all of that was done on a cross and three days later by an open tomb.

      3. Why obey? Many reasons. God has destined us for certain good works He planned and He empowers. So actually the good is being done by God through us, not as if we can even claim that we are doing something for God with our good works. The biggest reason: our good works are how we respond to the grace of God.

  5. John the Baptist need confirmation that Jesus is the one they were waiting for. Understandable. He’s been in prison and hasn’t seen all we have been reading about. Jesus says go tell John what I have been doing, but then he adds a provocative questions: “Is that what you were expecting?” It does all come down to that, doesn’t it? How we receive Jesus is based on whatever we are expecting. The one who takes away all unpleasant, stressful “bad things” in life? Well, Jesus doesn’t do that. A great teacher but nothing more? Well, he was so much more.

    What are we expecting Jesus to be? Or is there room for Jesus just to be Jesus and us to stop expecting?

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