Lent 2015, led to the Cross: Faith, miracles, and an alabaster jar filled with love and symbolism

Luke-747

This is the Lent series and we’re reading through Luke, from the 40-days Jesus spent in the in the desert triumphing over temptation to His crucifixion and resurrection. We have read through Luke 4-6. In our reading we learned that: Jesus grace triumphed over temptation and evil;  He was persecuted in Nazareth for not performing miracles in his home town; He suffered to relate to our suffering; He came for sinners (tax collectors, fishermen, and us!); Jesus called the 12 disciples; showed us how we are to cast our crowns before the throne, living our lives for His plans. We understand that His miracles illustrate how we are to trust Him and live as a testimony. We learned that we are to love our enemies, bless them and pray for them. Yesterday we learned that we are not to judge others and that we need to act on His directives- it’s not enough just to know what they are.

Today we’re reading Luke chapter 7. This chapter is all about faith and miracles. The Centurion had faith that Jesus would heal his beloved servant; the widow had faith that Jesus would raise her dead son, John the Baptist had faith in his prophecy and that Jesus was the Messiah, and the unnamed woman with the alabaster flask had faith that Jesus would forgive her sins and a love for Him that was shown by her display of giving Him all that she had.

The Faith of the Centurion (Luke 7:1-6)

This is the a miracle of healing. Jesus heals the Centurion’s servant. A Centurion was a Roman soldier. The passage describes how much the Centurion cares for his servant. This relationship between the Centurion and his servant is the epitome of the relationship that Paul describes in Colossians 4:1, one of duty, justice, equity, and kindness.

The Centurion sent elders on his behalf to beg Jesus, the Great Physician, to heal his servant. The elders that the went to Jesus on behalf of the Centurion were Jewish elders- this is unusual because at the time Roman soldiers weren’t fond of Jewish elders. This really demonstrates the desperation that the Centurion felt, reaching out to those we knew could help him reach Jesus, even though they probably didn’t have the best camaraderie.

The Centurion believed that he was unworthy to approach Jesus directly, because he was a Gentile, so he sent Jewish elders to Jesus to lobby on his behalf. Jesus responds to the elders pleas by going to the Centurion directly, establishing the Centurion’s worthiness for His visit because of the Centurion’s faith. The Centurion is humble and faithful, a reminder of how we are to approach Jesus. Jon Bloom (Desiring God) writes: Both Luke (Luke 7:9) and Matthew (Matthew 8:10) use the Greek word thaumazo (thou-mad’-zo) which we translate “marveled” or “amazed” to describe Jesus’ response to the centurion’s faith. The only time this word is used to describe Jesus’ response to others’ faith is in Mark 6:6, when he marvels at the lack of faith in the people of Nazareth, where he grew up.

Jesus raises the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17)

Jesus leaves the Centurion and his servant in Capernaum and travels to Nain, where that very next day He comes upon a young widow whose son has recently died. Jesus encounters a large crowd of the widow’s friends and neighbors who are attending the young man’s funeral.

Jesus shows compassion to the widow and shows His pity and power in raising her son. The large crowd gathered to attend a funeral witnessed a miracle of healing that day instead. The crowd was struck with wonder at what they had witnessed and glorified God.

Jesus and John the Baptist (Luke 7:18-35)

John the Baptist and his disciples had heard about Jesus and the miracles. John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if He was really the Messiah, or if they should expect someone else. Jesus had not yet publicly confirmed that He was the Messiah and John and his disciples wanted that confirmation. At the same time that John’s disciples were asking for confirmation, Jesus “cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind” (Luke 7:21).  Jesus answered the question with action and sent the disciples back to John to witness what they had seen.

Jesus then tells the crowd about John. Jesus describes John as unshakable prophet, more than a prophet, a forerunner to the Messiah, undeterred by the contempt that his preaching was often met with and the prejudices against him.

Jesus anointed by a sinful woman (the alabaster flask) (Luke 7: 36-50)

Some members of the Pharisees (my March 5 blog post includes a description of who the Pharisees were so if you’re not familiar with the Pharisees or their role in the crucifixion read through that post) invited Jesus to dinner. A woman who lived in the town, who had led a “sinful life”, brought an alabaster flask filled with fragrant perfume to the house. The woman kneeled at Jesus feet and wept. Her tears washed His feet, she dried His feet with her hair, and anointed His feet with her perfume.

The Pharisees mocked and muttered to themselves how could Jesus not know this woman is a sinner? Jesus uses the woman’s actions as an illustration of faith to the Pharisees and forgives the woman of her sins. The woman brought all of her value (the perfume in the jar), and all of her regrets and sorrow and gave them all to Jesus. Have we handed over our alabaster jar representing all of our value, treasures, worth, and sorrow and regrets to Jesus? Do we sit broken, like that alabaster jar, at Jesus feet? Bring it all to Jesus- for healing, forgiveness, and peace.

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50). They who know that their faith hath saved them may go in peace, may go on their way rejoicing (Matthew Henry). 

You are made for so much more than all of this
You’re beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred
You are His
You’re beautiful -Lyrics by Mercy Me

 

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