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Matthew 8:5-13; Matthew 11; Luke 7 Listen
In these passages, we see the following events in Jesus' ministry:
The centurion who knew his place (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10)
|5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
|1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
2 And a certain centurions servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
Matthew's account is more abbreviated than Luke's. Matthew's account goes to the bottom line of the words exchanged between Jesus and the Roman centurion (a Gentile). We find from Luke's account that the words were actually exchanged through messengers because the centurion did not feel worthy to address Jesus personally. It would appear that Luke wants to emphasize the extreme respect the centurion had for Judaism by not wanting to compromise Jesus' testimony (in hanging out with a Gentile); you will recall the outrage of the Pharisees when Jesus went to Matthew's house where Gentiles were present in Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:27-32 (see notes). This conversation between Jesus and the centurion actually takes place in two waves - the first group of messengers in verse 3, "he sent unto him the elders of the Jews." Capernaum is in northern Israel on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, so these were probably not the Jerusalem leaders of the Jews, but local leaders in Capernaum. Since this centurion had been so considerate of the Jews there (even built them a synagogue), they declare this Gentile worthy of a miracle from Jesus (verses 4-5). Jesus heads for the centurion's house.
Not far from the house, the centurion sends out a second set of messengers (akin to attorneys speaking on one's behalf) to talk with Jesus. These representatives are the ones to whom Jesus talks on behalf of the centurion. The centurion compares Jesus' power over sickness to his own power over his troops. He tells Jesus that all he needs to do is speak, and his servant will be healed. Jesus expresses his delight over this man's grasp of faith. Here's a Gentile who exercises more faith than those Jews to whom Jesus has come as Messiah. Then Jesus makes an interesting statement in Matthew 8:11-12 "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." He points out that, while Jews ("children of the kingdom") will reject him, Gentiles will come from all parts of the world to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah. Isaiah had prophesied that the millennium will consist of Jews and Gentiles alike (Isaiah 55-56, see notes), a prophetic doctrine that the Jewish leaders weren't too crazy about.
A resurrection miracle (Luke 7:11-17)
|11 And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.
17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
The day following the healing of the centurion's servant, Jesus is about 15 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel in the city of Nain. Luke is careful to point out (as he frequently does) the large crowd who is following Jesus. A funeral procession goes by, and Jesus has compassion on the widow woman whose only son was in the open coffin; he touches the coffin and says, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." The young man sits up in the coffin and begins to speak. Luke points out in verses 16-17 that the people were subsequently very enthusiastic regarding the ministry of Jesus, acknowledging him as "a great prophet." This certainly must have reminded them of Elijah (I Kings 17:17-24, see notes) and Elisha (II Kings 4:18-37, see notes) when they had worked similar resurrection miracles.
|1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
|18 And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.
19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings courts.
26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
John the Baptist is in prison, so he sends a couple of his disciples to check Jesus out; who is he? As an interesting aside, John had baptized Jesus and saw the miracle that took place at Jesus' baptism. However, while John suspects that Jesus is the Messiah, John wants a confirmation. It appears that John's disciples show up when Jesus is surrounded by a crowd of seekers AND scoffers. John's disciples ask Jesus this question, "Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?" Inquiring minds want to know. So, how is Jesus going to sufficiently answer John's disciples without directly proclaiming himself the Messiah before the hostile Jewish leaders there who are just waiting for him to utter words that can be used as evidence of blasphemy. Well, it's simple for Jesus. First of all, he immediately begins healing the people in the multitude and tells John's disciples to report this to John. John's a smart man; he will immediately relate these actions to the prophesied actions of the Messiah in Isaiah 61 (see notes). You may recall that a year (perhaps as much as two) earlier, Jesus introduced his Messianic ministry up in Nazareth when he read this very same Old Testament passage in Luke 4:18-19 (see notes) regarding the miracles that would be performed during the ministry of the Messiah. However, in that passage, Jesus concluded in Luke 4:21 by saying, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." While he doesn't read Isaiah 61 on this occasion, he does refer to the Messianic activity outlined there. In other words, "Yes!"
After John's disciples leave, Jesus continues with a startling announcement to those who surrounded him, "I am the Messiah." But he doesn't say it in a way that can be used as evidence against him by the Jewish leaders. He says of John in verse 27, "This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." That's a quotation from Malachi 3:1 (see notes) proclaiming that a prophet will precede the Messiah, and that prophet is John the Baptist. It is interesting to note that later on when Jesus is asked about whether or not John is the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy, Jesus says, in essence, he could have been. You see, Malachi's prophecy looked all the way into the millennium. Had the Jews received Jesus as the Messiah, he would have been the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy; but since they did not, he was not the fulfillment of that prophecy. Jesus said this when asked about this matter in Matthew 11:14 (see notes) "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias (Elias=Elijah), which was for to come." He further adds in Matthew 17:10-13 (see notes) "And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
Now here's the big caveat: Daniel had prophesied that the Messiah would be "cut off" in Daniel 9:26 (see notes), and Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be rejected by the Jews in Isaiah 52-53 (see notes). When John the Baptist and Jesus came, the Jews did have an opportunity to receive Jesus as their Messiah and usher in the rule of Israel over the earth under the Davidic throne. It had been prophesied that they would reject, and Christ knew that in advance as well (of course he did). Therefore, John the Baptist would have fulfilled the Malachi prophecy had the Jews readily accepted the Messiah, but they did not...so John, consequently, was not Elijah. As it turns out, Elijah does, in fact, appear prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ in Revelation 11:3 (see notes), and this event will fulfill the criteria referenced by Malachi 4:5 (see notes). For greater detail, see the article in the information box to the right of this window entitled, "Was John the Baptist Elijah?"
So, when the day was over, how did the Jewish leaders respond to Jesus? Luke 7:30 (see notes) sums it up, "But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." Of course, what did we expect? But they did walk away without evidence to convict Jesus of anything. It is further interesting to notice that Luke tells us in verse 29, "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John." It was only the self-centered Jewish leaders that rejected. Hey! Did you catch that phrase? Notice again the words, "being baptized with the baptism of John." The Greek verb translated in the KJV "being baptized" there is an aorist passive participle. Being aorist and passive in form, it points to a time when these folks had been baptized by John's baptism, and is probably best understood as "having been baptized." There is no real indication that baptizing with John's baptism was done on this particular day.
John the Baptist's description of his baptism is found in Matthew 3:11 (see notes), "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." This projected baptism was first initiated on the Day of Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus in Acts 2 (see notes). Now, view that in the light of the baptism that New Testament Believers undergo after salvation by noticing Romans 6:1-14 (see notes). When we are baptized by immersion as Believers, we are typifying death, burial and resurrection in Jesus Christ. That picture only became valid after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Jesus pronounces judgment on some cities (Matthew 11:20-24)
|20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
These two cities mentioned by Jesus, Chorazin and Bethsaida, are right next to Capernaum on the north side of the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel. Because of their rejection of the truth, Jesus passes judgment on those Jewish leaders there who reject his message. He compares them to two Old Testament cities; Tyre and Sidon were large Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean, not far away, and often denounced by Old Testament prophets for their Baal worship (Isaiah 23, see notes; Ezekiel 26:28, see notes; Joel 3:4, see notes; Amos 1:9-10, see notes; Zechariah 9:2-4, see notes). Of course, Jesus knew their hearts and the nature of their rejection despite all the miracles that had been done in that region. With all the miraculous events that Jesus had manifested before them, the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida still remained attached to their old dead-end religion rather than to receive the Messiah's message of the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, see notes). Therefore, Jesus passed judgment upon them. As a matter of fact, that judgment message is extremely severe when he proclaims in verse 24, "But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." Whoa! Sodom! For the full implications of that condemnation, click here to read the notes on Genesis 19 (see notes).
Jesus extends an invitation (Matthew 11:25-30)
|25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Jesus begins to pray, thanking God for the fact that everyday people (not the Jewish leaders) are receiving the Word. Pay close attention to verse 27, "...neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." In other words, the only way to God today is through Jesus. That's exactly what Jesus said in John 14:6 (see notes), "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Then Jesus extends a familiar invitation in verses 28-30. To whom is the invitation extended? Look at verse 28, "...all ye that labour and are heavy laden..." We see here that Jesus is making a special appeal to those who are not the Jewish leaders. As we saw in the previous verses (20-24), those Jewish leaders had rejected Jesus.
|36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisees house, and sat down to meat.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisees house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.
This Pharisee's name is Simon. He invites Jesus over for a meal. While at his house, a stranger, a woman from the city, shows up with a box of ointment. Verse 38 says, " And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment." To Simon the Pharisee, this is not only a strange sight, but a terribly inappropriate action as well, but not for the reasons that pop into our heads (it was a cultural thing). He thinks that Jesus, if he's really a prophet, should know the sinful condition of this woman and that she has no business making any contact with a righteous prophet. Simon gets a lesson in forgiveness, but not one to which a Pharisee is going to be very open. That lesson is that both Simon and the woman are sinners, but because the woman perceives her sin and the Pharisee ignores his own, she is, in fact, the one who is most grateful for forgiveness. Whoa! So how does this Pharisee take to the idea of being referred to as a sinner here? Well, because Jesus uses a parable to make the point, the Pharisee is not able to actually say that Jesus called him a sinner.
You will notice that Jesus forgives this woman's sins. What brought about this forgiveness, her actions? NO! Notice verse 50, "Thy faith hath saved thee." It just so happens that her actions were a demonstration of her faith. Likewise, our actions should always be a demonstration of our faith.
Incidentally, don't confuse this anointing/hair occasion with that of Mary, the sister of Lazarus (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-11, see notes). That takes place much later, just prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Another false identification that is common regarding this woman is that she was Mary Magdalene. It is further conjectured that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. That misguided deduction is based upon the fact that she is mentioned in Mark 16:9 (see notes), "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils." A similar reference is found in Luke 8:2 (see notes), "And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils." Being possessed with devils cannot be linked to prostitution in that verse. Although we are not told the symptoms of her demon possession, in all likelihood it was manifested with severe physical ailments and not a depraved lifestyle.
So, who first proposed that this "sinner" woman was Mary Magdalene? Actually, it was the Roman Catholic Pope Gregory I who identified this Luke 7 woman as Mary Magdalene in a sermon back in 591 A.D. There is absolutely NO reason to believe that this woman was Mary Magdalene. We first see Mary in Luke 8:2 (see notes). There, she is a follower of Jesus along with other women. Let's face it: Pope Gregory blew the call. As a result, however, there are a host of Christians today who are convinced that this woman in Luke 7 was a prostitute, and that she is one in the same with Mary Magdalene.