For the full text of Luke 7, click here.
Luke 7 opens with the story of Jesus and the centurion which had been in Matthew 8. It follows the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew, as it does here. The story is mostly the same with some fine differences. Here, the centurion sent people to bring Jesus to the house to heal the servant, Jewish elders at that. They asked, even gave a little explanation, and Jesus agreed and another group met them on the way to say that the centurion didn’t find himself worthy. His response is much more succinct in Luke than Matthew, where Jesus further points out that more Gentiles than Jews will get what’s going on. In Matthew, the centurion goes himself to see Jesus, so the whole thing plays out in one conversation rather than two. The overall message is about faith and that it can come from anywhere.
This is the first and perhaps only appearance of the next story. It’s a little unusual, given the others we’ve seen so far as well. Rather than someone coming out and seeking healing, Jesus saw someone who needed healing and gave it. A group was going out to bury the only son of a widow and Jesus saw what was going on and intervened. He first talked to the mom and then raised the son from the dead. He was the only son of a widow, which means that without him, the widow wouldn’t have had any support other than charity. Still, she wasn’t there asking for help, she didn’t think to go to Jesus, but He helped her anyway, without any show of faith at all. It makes for a strange inclusion in this gospel.
With the messengers from John the Baptist we come back to a story told in more than one gospel. This story also plays out in Matthew 11, in much the same way. John sends messengers to Jesus to verify that He is “the one who is to come” and Jesus not only admits to it, but also challenges the audience. Mostly He seems irritated that people were unhappy with John for his lifestyle and then crappy with Jesus for His.
The last story in the chapter is about a “sinful woman” washing Jesus’s feet and anointing them with ointment. He’s at the home of a Pharisee when a woman comes in and cries over His feet, washes them with her tears, dries them with her hair, and then puts some sort of ointment on them. Since the washing of feet has shown up in some other places in the Bible, I’m not going to focus on that part so much as the manner in which she did it.
I’m not one of those people who can cry on command and let’s not assume that of her either, even though it’s quite possible. It’s also possible that she’s moved by being in the presence of Jesus, especially since it’s her own hair that she dries His feet with. Between the cryng and the hair, this isn’t a simple gesture in my mind, this is her doing something very special for a very special person. Then the oil. There have been other mentions of women doing things for Jesus and the use of oil at the time but this one doesn’t really say the expense that this ointment put her out. Jesus doesn’t even mention it.
He does mention that though her sins are great, so is her gratitude for their forgiveness. He makes a big point to the people He was actually there visiting with that she is more appreciative of Him because her amount of sin has made it obvious to her that she needs His forgiveness more than they do. He also explains to them all the ways that they didn’t honor Him and she did. He forgives her sins on the spot which again makes them question who He is that He can forgive sins.