In addition to teaching and healing, Jesus also gathers disciples, who are simply students or apprentices. Their classroom is the world—hillsides and beaches, homes and country roads, fields and city streets. Their subject is life—life in the kingdom of God. Jesus has many students, both men and women, but He forms a special inner circle known as “the twelve.” The number “twelve” is highly symbolic because the Jewish people were originally composed of twelve tribes. However, over the centuries, some of the tribes were decimated. By calling together a new twelve, Jesus seems to be dramatizing a new beginning for the people of God. The original twelve tribes found their identity in the law of Moses, but now Jesus is giving a new way of life for His twelve to learn and follow.
7 Jesus shared all these sayings with the crowd that day on the plain. When He was finished, He went into the town of Capernaum. 2 There, a Centurion had a slave he loved dearly. The slave was sick—about to die— 3 so when the Centurion heard about Jesus, he contacted some Jewish elders. He sent them to ask Jesus to come and heal his dear slave. 4 With great emotion and respect, the elders presented their request to Jesus.
Jewish Elders: This man is worthy of Your help. It’s true that he’s a Centurion, 5 but he loves our nation. In fact, he paid for our synagogue to be built.
6 So Jesus accompanied them. When they approached the Centurion’s home, the Centurion sent out some friends to bring a message to Jesus.
Message of the Centurion: Lord, don’t go to the trouble of coming inside. I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. 7 That’s why I sent others with my request. Just say the word, and that will be enough to heal my servant. 8 I understand how authority works, being under authority myself and having soldiers under my authority. I command to one, “Go,” and he goes. I say to another, “Come,” and he comes. I say to my slave, “Do this,” and he obeys me.
9 Jesus was deeply impressed when He heard this. He turned to the crowd that followed Him.
John, it seems, is having second thoughts. Is Jesus really the One we have expected? Is He the Anointed One? But who can blame John for these doubts? After all, John is in prison, unjustly held by a corrupt, immoral ruler. Ultimately the desert prophet will have his head severed from his body when the drunken, lusty king makes a silly promise in front of dinner guests. So who can blame John for seeking assurance from the Lord? Jesus, realizing fully the kinds of expectations others have, gently reminds John and his disciples of the Scriptures: “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead live, and the poor receive the good news.” Luke doesn’t say how John responds to the report as he nears his own end. What is clear is that Jesus has the utmost respect for His colleague and cousin. He doesn’t reject him for his doubts but tries to send him reassurance.
Jesus: Listen, everyone. This outsider, this Roman, has more faith than I have found even among our own Jewish people.
10 The friends of the Centurion returned home, and they found the slave was completely healed.
11 It wasn’t long after this when Jesus entered a city called Nain. Again all of His disciples accompanied Him, along with a huge crowd. 12 He was coming near the gate of the city as a corpse was being carried out. This man was the only child and support of his widowed mother, and she was accompanied by a large funeral crowd.
13 As soon as the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her.
Jesus: Don’t weep.
14 Then He came to the stretcher, and those carrying it stood still.
Jesus: Young man, listen! Get up!
15 The dead man immediately sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother, 16 and everyone was both shocked and jubilant. They praised God.
Funeral Crowd: A tremendous prophet has arisen in our midst! God has visited His people!
17 News of Jesus spread across the whole province of Judea and beyond to the surrounding regions. 18 When these reports reached John’s disciples, they brought news to John himself, who was known for his preaching and ritual cleansing.[a] 19 John sent two of his disciples to ask the Lord, “Are You the Promised One, or shall we keep looking for someone else?”
20 They came to Jesus and asked their question exactly as directed by John the Baptist.
21 Before He answered John’s messengers, Jesus cured many from various diseases, health conditions, and evil spirits. He even caused many blind people to regain their sight.
Jesus (to John’s disciples): 22 Go and tell John what you’ve witnessed with your own eyes and ears: the blind are seeing again, the lame are walking again, the lepers are clean again, the deaf hear again, the dead live again, and good news is preached to the poor.[b] 23 Whoever is not offended by Me is blessed indeed.
24 When John’s messengers left, Jesus talked to the crowds about John.
Jesus: When you went out into the wilderness to see John, what were you expecting? A reed shaking in the wind? 25 What were you looking for? A man in expensive clothing? Look, if you were looking for fancy clothes and luxurious living, you went to the wrong place—you should have gone to the kings’ courts, not to the wilderness! 26 What were you seeking? A prophet? Ah yes, that’s what John is, and even more than a prophet. 27 The prophet Malachi was talking about John when he wrote,
I will send My messenger before You,
to clear Your path in front of You.[c]
28 Listen, there is no human being greater than this man, John the Baptist. Yet even the least significant person in the coming kingdom of God is greater than John.
29 The common people and tax collectors heard God’s own wisdom in Jesus’ assessment of John because they had been ritually cleansed through baptism by John. 30 But the Pharisees and religious scholars hardened their hearts and turned their backs on God’s purposes for them because they had refused John’s baptism.[d]
Jesus: 31 The people of this generation—what are they like? To what can they be compared? 32 I’ll tell you: they’re like spoiled kids sitting in the marketplace playing games, calling out,
We played the pipes for you,
but you didn’t dance to our tune!
We cried like mourners,
but you didn’t cry with us!
33 You can’t win with this generation. John the Baptist comes along, fasting and abstaining from wine, and you say, “This guy is demon-possessed!” 34 The Son of Man comes along, feasting and drinking wine, and you say, “This guy is a glutton and a drunk, a friend of scoundrels and tax collectors!” 35 Well, wisdom’s true children know wisdom when they hear it.
36-40 Once a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to be a guest for a meal.
Just as Jesus enters the man’s home and takes His place at the table, a woman from the city—notorious as a woman of ill repute—follows Him in. She has heard that Jesus will be at the Pharisee’s home, so she comes in and approaches Him, carrying an alabaster flask of perfumed oil. Then she begins to cry, she kneels down so her tears fall on Jesus’ feet, and she starts wiping His feet with her own hair. Then she actually kisses His feet, and she pours the perfumed oil on them.
Simon (thinking): Now I know this guy is a fraud. If He were a real prophet, He would have known this woman is a sinner and He would never let her get near Him, much less touch Him . . . or kiss Him!
Jesus (knowing what the Pharisee is thinking): Simon, I want to tell you a story.
Simon: Tell me, Teacher.
Jesus: 41 Two men owed a certain lender a lot of money. One owed 100 weeks’ wages, and the other owed 10 weeks’ wages. 42 Both men defaulted on their loans, but the lender forgave them both. Here’s a question for you: which man will love the lender more?
Simon: 43 Well, I guess it would be the one who was forgiven more.
Jesus: Good answer.
44-46 Now Jesus turns around so He’s facing the woman, although He’s still speaking to Simon.
Jesus: Do you see this woman here? It’s kind of funny. I entered your home, and you didn’t provide a basin of water so I could wash the road dust from My feet. You didn’t give Me a customary kiss of greeting and welcome. You didn’t offer Me the common courtesy of providing oil to brighten My face. But this woman has wet My feet with her own tears and washed them with her own hair. She hasn’t stopped kissing My feet since I came in. And she has applied perfumed oil to My feet. 47 This woman has been forgiven much, and she is showing much love. But the person who has shown little love shows how little forgiveness he has received.
48 (to the woman) Your sins are forgiven.
Simon and Friends (muttering among themselves): 49 Who does this guy think He is? He has the audacity to claim the authority to forgive sins?
Jesus (to the woman): 50 Your faith has liberated you. Go in peace.