Monday, February 12, 2018

A Study in Luke Chapter 7

A synopsis is a statement that summarizes a larger story. There is much more information and greater detail to the story, but the synopsis is the heart of the matter.

You may tell about a dark and stormy night, of the howl of the wind as it pushes the car toward the ditch, shielding your eyes from the blinding streaks of lightning, hunkering down when the thunder jarred your teeth and the pounding rain drove your wipers at full swipe. The puddling on the roadway blasting water underneath the car as though a fire hose was shooting up from the ground, the debris tossed across the road just at the outer limits of your headlights. The sweat beading up on your forehead, the coffee sloshing out of your cup onto your pants and the voice on your phone pleading with you to hurry.

You’ve given great details but we find out later that the story is about you getting to the hospital in time for the birth of your newest grandbaby. The storm isn’t the heart of the story. It’s about meeting this precious baby. Just tell me about the baby.

Much of the Gospels is synopsis, not novel, not even a condensed version. The story isn’t in the details, it is, in the simplest terms, a who did what, generally explaining something we need to know about Jesus. No one story tells us all we need to know. But added together each adds a bit more to the total picture of who He is and what He does.

Jawbreakers are made in layers. Each layer provides a different color and occasionally a different flavor to the candy. No layer fully describes the jawbreaker. You can’t pull it out of your mouth and say, “Oh, my jawbreaker is red, then again, it’s green, and later, it’s yellow.” No single layer defines the whole jawbreaker.

In Chapter 7 Luke takes us quickly through several snippets of Jesus’ activity, each showing a different layer of the total picture. He wasn’t giving us definitive stories that explained Jesus completely but glimpses that added together reveal details of who Jesus was and what He was capable of doing.

Why? Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ: the same yesterday and today and forever. Who Jesus was explains who He is, and what He did tells us what He can do. Does that matter? It matters greatly. What he can do affects our lives every day.

Jesus was met by friends of a Roman Centurion who had been sent to ask Jesus to heal this man’s servant. When Jesus was on the way, the Centurion sent additional servants to tell Jesus: Luke 7:6 "Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, "I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith." When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

What do we learn about Jesus: He is our healer. God had said to Moses: Ex 15:26 "I, the LORD, am your healer." Healer is more than just one who makes us well when we are sick, or fixes our broken body when we are infirmed.

Matthew said: Matt 4:23 Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

The word used for healing uses means to make us whole. What are the condition of our lives that restrict us from living a whole life? Is it disease, is it soul sickness, is it the emptiness of a broken heart, is it an affliction from which we cannot function. Jesus is our healer.

As healer, He can bring about whatever it takes to make us whole. The Lord can take any circumstance in our lives and bring wholeness for whatever those circumstances have caused. Beauty for ashes.

Luke shows us that whatever the condition, Jesus can make us whole. Healing our physical condition, our emotional condition, our spiritual condition. Whatever infirms us, holds us in its grip and restricts our life, Jesus can speak a word and make us whole.

After healing the Centurion’s servant, He then met a lady whose son had died. Death is final in our world. But Jesus did a miracle that denied death its victim.

Luke 7:13 When the Lord saw the woman, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, "Do not weep." And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and, "God has visited His people!"
Yogi Berra once said: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” That applies in sports as well in life. Pulling the plug too early, giving up before you’ve tried everything, turning off the game with time left on the clock. There are plenty of ways to decide it’s over before it’s over.
Thomas Edison said: When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this—you haven’t. As long as the problem exists and there is time on the clock, it isn’t over.
Until God blows the whistle, there is always hope.

Why did Luke tell us this story? We need to know that even something as powerful as death isn’t the final word. Whatever we’re going through isn’t the end. It is an opportunity for God to accomplish what concerns us.

The story isn’t just about answering the question can Jesus raise the physically dead. He is without limitation. It is a story that makes us ask what else can be considered dead that He can bring back to life.

·         A body ravaged by disease.
·         A man kept alive on life support
·         A marriage cold and lifeless
·         A life absent of joy, hope and promise of a future.
·         A disconnected family
·         A lifelong struggle with demons and personal destruction.
·         A broken heart that seems beyond repair.

It’s not over until He says it’s over!

So after He raises the widow’s son, Luke tells us of John the Baptizer’s doubt. Jesus wasn’t fulfilling John’s expectations of what he thought the Messiah would do. He sent some of his men to Jesus for answers.

Luke 7:20 When the men came to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, 'Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?'"

Ever had doubts? Ever read one of the stories and struggled to believe how this could have possibly happened. Ever wondered if all that you believe is true? Ever questioned if God is there, if heaven is real, if you have the right beliefs?

Well, you’re in good company. John the Baptizer, the miracle baby who grew up to be the forerunner of the Messiah, who saw the confirming sign of the dove descending and remaining on Jesus at His baptism, questioned if Jesus was who John thought He was.

Luke 7:22 And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."

Take offense – means not be tripped up. Don’t let your doubts trip you up, making you fall, stumble or stagger through life. Acknowledge your doubts then go back and look at Jesus. No one can do the things He did unless He was who He claimed to be.

Why did Luke share this snip? We need to know what to do when we have doubts.
·         What if my prayers aren’t answered yet?
·         What if the promise I claim hasn’t come through yet?
·         What if my needs remain unmet?
·         What if the problem is still raging in my life?
·         What if I asked for forgiveness and still feel guilty?

Don’t let the appearance of inactivity trip you up. Don’t let God’s silence make you think He isn’t there. Keep looking to Jesus until you are convinced that He who began a good work in you will complete that work.

The final layer Luke wanted us to see was the ability of Jesus to forgive.
Luke 7:37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner." And Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he replied, "Say it, Teacher." "A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  "When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?" Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have judged correctly."

The story at this point seems to be about the amount of sin needing forgiveness but Jesus quickly turns that idea around to the amount of forgiveness being applied. How much? Enough to cover all the sin.

Whatever we bring to Jesus of our faults and failures, presenting to Him our rebellion and selfishness, He will forgive. If we admit the sin in our lives to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive that sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The operative word is all.

Here is a lady presenting to Jesus her entire life by a sacrifice of humility, as a slave who washes feet. Jesus saw her need was forgiveness because He could see she carried much guilt from her lifestyle.

Luke 7:47  "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." Then He said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." Luke 7:49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?"

What did Luke want us to see? How Jesus dealt with a sinful woman? That’s helpful but all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s expectation. I think he wanted us to see how powerful and abundant God’s forgiveness really is. That there is nothing in our lives He cannot forgive.

Luke told us these stories because he wanted us to see Jesus as our infinite Lord who can do whatever needs to be done.

The Centurion’s servant showed us: If we are afflicted, sick, or living with an emptiness in our hearts, He is our healer who makes us whole.

The widow’s son showed us: If we believe we have come to the end, given up, denied there is any solution or resolution to our problems, we need to remember that even death isn’t final to Jesus. He can restore what Satan has destroyed, He can return what’s been taken away, He can replace the joy that life has stolen from us. It isn’t over until He says it’s over.

John the Baptizer showed us: If we have gnawing doubts that hold back our faith and cause us to lose confidence in God’s goodness, we can look at Jesus and believe again. He showed us the faithfulness of God in all circumstances.

The sinful woman showed us: If we feel unacceptable to Jesus, marked by our sins, defined by our faults and failures, cast away from the good we wish we could claim, we need to know our Lord is willing and able to forgive. We are not equipped to carry our guilt. Jesus promised release from the burden. To enjoy that release, we must give Him our burdened souls.

If we think we can make the miracle happen in our lives, that we are sufficient to meet all our needs on our own, we are greatly mistaken. But living inside us as a child of God is the same one who did all these things. Call out to Him and trust Him for what concerns you.

  1. If we have any doubts about Jesus it is because we have failed to understand who He was is who He is.
  2. If we choose to carry our own concerns instead of giving those concerns to Him, we will break under the strain of our own lives.
  3. Faith requires us to present our needs to Him, then anticipate He will accomplish what concerns us in the way that is best.
  4. Even when we struggle to remain faithful, He will not, for He cannot deny Himself.

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