Luke 7J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
A Roman centurion’s extraordinary faith in Jesus
7 1-5 When Jesus had finished these talks to the people, he came to Capernaum, where it happened that there was a man very seriously ill and in fact at the point of death. He was the slave of a centurion who thought very highly of him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him with the request that he would come and save his servant’s life. When they came to Jesus, they urged him strongly to grant this request, saying that the centurion deserved to have this done for him. “He loves our nation and has built us a synagogue out of his own pocket,” they said.
6-8 So Jesus went with them, but as he approached the house, the centurion sent some of his personal friends with the message, “Don’t trouble yourself, sir! I’m not important enough for you to come into my house—I didn’t think I was fit to come to you in person. Just give the order, please, and my servant will recover. I am used to working under orders, and I have soldiers under me. I can say to one, ‘Go’, and he goes, or I can say to another, ‘Come here’, and he comes; or I can say to my slave, ‘Do this job’, and he does it.”
9 These words amazed Jesus and he turned to the crowd who were following behind him, and said, “I have never found faith like this anywhere, even in Israel!”
10 Then those who had been sent by the centurion returned to the house and found the slave perfectly well.
Jesus brings a dead youth back to life
11-13 Not long afterwards, Jesus went into a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. As they approached the city gate, it happened that some people were carrying out a dead man, the only son of his widowed mother. The usual crowd of fellow-townsmen was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
14 Then he walked up and put his hand on the bier while the bearers stood still. Then he said, “Young man, wake up!”
15-16 And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus handed him to his mother. Everybody present was awe-struck and they praised God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us and God has turned his face towards his people.”
17 And this report of him spread through the whole of Judea and the surrounding countryside.
Jesus sends John a personal message
18-19 John’s disciples reported all these happenings to him. Then he summoned two of them and sent them to the Lord with this message, “Are you the one who was to come, or are we to look for someone else?”
20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you with this message, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or are we to look for someone else?’”
21-23 At that very time Jesus was healing many people of their diseases and ailments and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. Then he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. The blind are recovering their sight, cripples are walking again, lepers being healed, the deaf hearing, dead men are being brought to life again, and the good news is being given to those in need. And happy is the man who never loses his faith in me.”
Jesus emphasises the greatness of John—and the greater importance of the kingdom of God
24-27 When these messengers had gone back, Jesus began to talk to the crowd about John. “What did you go out into the desert to look at? Was it a reed waving in the breeze? Well, what was it you went out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? But the men who wear fine clothes live luxuriously in palaces. But what did you really go to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, a prophet and far more than a prophet! This is the man of whom the scripture says, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you’.
28 Believe me, no one greater than John has ever been born, and yet a humble member of the kingdom of God is greater than he.
29-30 “All the people, yes, even the tax-collectors, when they heard John, acknowledged God and were baptised by his baptism. But the Pharisees and the experts in the Law frustrated God’s purpose for them, for they refused John’s baptism.
31-35 “What can I say that the men of this generation are like—what sort of men are they? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling out to each other, ‘We played at weddings for you, but you wouldn’t dance, and we played at funerals for you, and you wouldn’t cry!’ For John the Baptist came in the strictest austerity and you say he is crazy. Then the Son of Man came, enjoying life, and you say, ‘Look, a drunkard and a glutton, a bosom-friend of the tax-collector and the outsider!’ Ah, well, wisdom’s reputation is entirely in the hands of her children!”
Jesus contrasts unloving righteousness with loving penitence
36-39 Then one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to a meal with him. When Jesus came into the house, he took his place at the table and a woman, known in the town as a bad woman, found out that Jesus was there and brought an alabaster flask of perfume and stood behind him crying, letting her tears fall on his feet and then drying them with her hair. Then she kissed them and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were really a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of a person is touching him. He would have realised that she is a bad woman.”
40 Then Jesus spoke to him, “Simon, there is something I want to say to you.” “Very well, Master,” he returned, “say it.”
41-42 “Once upon a time, there were two men in debt to the same money-lender. One owed him fifty pounds and the other five. And since they were unable to pay, he generously cancelled both of their debts. Now, which one of them do you suppose will love him more?”
43 “Well,” returned Simon, “I suppose it will be the one who has been more generously treated,”
44-47 “Exactly,” replied Jesus, and then turning to the woman, he said to Simon, “You can see this woman? I came into your house but you provided no water to wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. There was no warmth in your greeting, but she, from the moment I came in, has not stopped covering my feet with kisses. You gave me no oil for my head, but she has put perfume on my feet. That is why I tell you, Simon, that her sins, many as they are, are forgiven; for she has shown me so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only a little love to give.”
48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 And the men at table with him began to say to themselves, “And who is this man, who even forgives sins?”
50 But Jesus said to the woman, “It is your faith that has saved you. Go in peace.”