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Deserving God's Favour?

Luke 7:3-6

Most people think that good people deserve good things, and bad people deserve bad things. The Jewish leaders thought this centurion deserved Jesus' attention to heal his servant.  Even though they could not speak a good word about Jesus, they were prepared to patronise His 'healing powers' to keep a friendly influential officer of the occupation 'on-side'.  The Roman had certainly been respectful of the Jewish way of life and their religious practices - even to the point of arranging for a new synagogue to be built in Capernaum.  But did he deserve a favour from Jesus?

Faith to Wait

Luke 7:6-7

The Roman centurion's personal servant was going to die.  Despairing, he had asked the Jewish elders to see if Jesus would help; but shortly before Jesus was due to arrive, the centurion changed his mind.  He sent his friends to Jesus with another message, to stop Jesus coming, saying that he was unworthy of Jesus coming to his house.  The powerful soldier was in awe of Jesus, because when the Lord spoke, things happened: by His word, demons were cast out and the sick were healed (Matthew 8:16).  It was clear that Jesus had a superior authority to him.

Trusting Authority

Luke 7:8-10

The Roman centurion’s servant was dying.  But the powerful soldier understood the link between authority and powerful action.  Emperor Caesar's authority cascaded through the military structure so that every officer would command in a way that was legitimate, powerful and effective, even though potentially ruthlessly.  Orders were always obeyed because the punishments for disobedience were severe.  The soldier was frightened of Jesus (Luke 7:6-7).  

Never too Late

Luke 7:11-13

Jesus was on time for His next Divine appointment.  This was the first of three occasions when He raised the dead (Luke 8:40-56; John 11:1-44).  After a day's walk south-west from Capernaum, He approached Nain in a joyful procession with His disciples and many others.  Just then, another large procession was coming out of the town.  The unmistakable sound of wailing announced the funeral.  Was this a rather embarrassing accident of timing - what would Jesus do?  Surely, He was too late to help.

Living Compassion

Luke 7:14-17

Jesus is amazingly kind and personally compassionate (Psalm 77:7-15).  His encounter with the funeral procession showed how much God loved a grieving mother, who was already a widow; and taught the disciples that He had the answer to the biggest problem of all, death (Hebrews 2:14).  By touching the coffin, He stopped the burial; and by commanding the young man to get up, He raised the dead to life.

Dealing with Doubt

Luke 7:18-20

John the Baptist was in prison because he told the truth about King Herod's affair with his brother's wife.  Although many people were glad when John announced that God's Saviour was coming, Herod was not willing to repent of his sin.  John's courageous truth-telling cost him his liberty and later his life (Matthew 14:3-12).  But at the time of this account, he was wondering if his suffering was worth it.  His key question was, ‘Is Jesus the promised Messiah?'

Divine Evidence

Luke 7:21-23

John the Baptist was in prison.  Had he got it right about Jesus: was He really the Messiah promised by God throughout the Old Testament?  It was not that John denied the prophecies about his role as a forerunner of the Messiah (Luke 1:76), nor his own Spirit-inspired statements that Jesus was the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and that Jesus would baptise His disciples in the Holy Spirit.  But John's gloomy prison cell offered no personal hope, so he turned to Jesus to be reassured about the truth.  

Challenging Motives

Luke 7:24-28

Although Jesus replaced the imprisoned John the Baptist as the focus of Israel's popular interest, John was not forgotten.  Jesus challenged the crowd about their motives for going to hear John's preaching on the banks of the River Jordan.  There was something very special about that man to have attracted so many.  But what did he offer them?  Despite his unconventional dress, John was not an unstable maverick, nor was there any promise of wealth to draw the crowds.  It was his message, preached with unshakable conviction that fascinated them - the prophecy that God's Messiah was about to a

Indentifying Truth

Luke 7:29-30

How do you know what is right or wrong?  Some say, 'if I feel it is right', others refer to tradition or simply 'what everybody else thinks'.  But the Bible says that truth is revealed by God (Deuteronomy 29:29) so that we may obey Him and receive His blessing. Those who welcome God's truth, are 'in the light'; others remain 'in the dark' (John 3:18-21).  But how can people move from the dark to the light?

Playing Religious Games

Luke 7:31-35

Jesus did not play games, unlike many of the religious people who crowded around Him.  Asking the rhetorical question, ‘What do I think that this generation is like?’ Jesus got their attention.  He then told them the answer.  It was not flattering!  He said that they were just like children playing games.  It looked to Him as if they were playing 'weddings and funerals' and trying to get others to join in.  However, neither John the Baptist nor Jesus would be sucked into their world of make-believe.  John was too serious for them and Jesus was too joyful.