The “A” words

Today’s chapter Luke 7 is yet again filled with so much to unpack.  Four very different messages for us to digest piece by piece.

AMAZED – In this first part of Luke 7, Jesus is the one who is amazed.  A centurion is panicked over his committed servant.  It is obvious the centurion cares so deeply for his servant that he asks for Jesus’ help.  He must have been desperate to seek Jesus’ healing but then changes his mind.  He feels he is not worthy of Jesus’ healing power.  The centurion may have felt guilty, realizing he was using his power over people in the wrong way.  It does not tell us why type of centurion this man was but back in that day, a centurion typically ruled over an army and thus was all powerful.  Jesus understands how he is feeling and is “amazed” at him.  It is as if Jesus is feeling the transformation of this centurion.   “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

AWE – The second story is one of great sadness which turns to joy.  Jesus is entering the city of Nain.  A widow’s dead son is being carried out of the city to his burial place.  The mother has experienced sadness given she is already a widow and now has lost her son. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Jesus, seeing her great sadness, immediately helps.  He stops, he places his healing hand on the bier and heals the dead son. “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  They were all filled with awe and praised God.  We all can feel the grief of this mother who is then overcome with joy as her son is raised.

AWESOME – John the Baptist.  God sends his messenger ahead of Jesus to prepare the way, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  These verses are awesome as John and Jesus have not met each other.  John is sending messengers to try to find out more about Jesus.  They obviously didn’t have Facebook or LinkedIn or Google to search and seek more information like we do today!  They used the good old fashioned way of word of mouth, sending others to investigate, ask questions, bring back the truth.  Was Jesus the promised Messiah?  If he was performing all this healing, he might be, but how would John know?  22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.  Jesus then uses this time to preach to his followers. 28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”  He wants everyone present to understand John.  He may appear to be a wild man, but he is so much more.  He is the messenger for Jesus and plays such an important role in the story of Jesus’ time on earth.  The story does not continue in this chapter but we know that John and Jesus soon meet at the Jordan River where John baptizes Jesus.  Awesome!

ANOINTED – As we reach the fourth and final story of this chapter, we have a completely different setting.  Jesus is invited in to a Pharisee’s home for dinner.  As he enters, a sinful woman is overcome with emotions.  I see her tears as representing her release of her sins and her recognition of all the things she has done wrong.  She is meeting the awesome Jesus and is feeling less than worthy to the point of weeping.  She uses her tears to clean his feet as she feels this is the least she could do for him.  She then cleanses or anoints his feet with perfume.  He feels her repentance and grasps her need for forgiveness. 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  Jesus uses this scene to teach the Pharisee a different way to look at people, through is eyes.  This woman may not have been worthy of the Pharisee, but she was worthy of Jesus.  She believed, she confessed, she demonstrated her faith and is saved.

As I read these four very different stories and examples of faith, it reminds me to keep my head up, looking and searching for God’s word and messages in my daily life.  Sometimes we have many stories in our days and in our weeks.  Are we looking for God’s healing word?  Are we taking advantage of healing or helping others?  Look for the “A” words in your day today.