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From the editor: "So great faith" (Lk 7.1-50)

J Grant

The visit of the Lord Jesus to the town of Capernaum (Lk 7.1) was not the first recorded by Luke (see Lk 4.23,31). That town had been favoured in witnessing the power of the Lord in the deliverance of the demon possessed man, by the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother, and many others (Lk 4.33-41). It was as a consequence of that day, and what took place later on the Lake of Gennesaret (Lk 5.1-11), that Peter, for the first time in Luke’s record, addressed the Master as "Lord".

Another man to call Him "Lord" was a Gentile centurion (Lk 7.6) who requested that He come to his home to heal his servant who was "ready to die". As the Lord was on His way another message was received, telling Him that the centurion was not worthy to have Him under his roof. All that was required was for the Lord to "say…a word" to heal the servant. His confession was so strong that the Lord declared him to have "great faith". This Gentile officer knew that when he gave an order it was obeyed and this was done even without his presence. So the Lord, who controlled resources not of Rome but of heaven, was able to use His authority to command at a distance. The restored living servant was witness to the power of Christ.

But the Adversary was listening! The healing of a man about to die must be challenged, and he did so in three ways. First, very shortly after, the Lord Jesus met a funeral procession outside the city of Nain (Lk 7.11-18). Here was a challenge by death. A man at the point of death was one thing, but how would He deal with one already dead. The Lord met this funeral precession at the gate of the city - the place of government - the devil asserting that this was still the sphere of his authority and that death stamped his rule. But, as He did with the daughter of Jairus and with Lazarus, the Lord addressed the son of the widowed mother who, on hearing His words, sat up and spoke. Her tears were changed to wonder and sorrow was dispelled by song.

The second challenge is one that may surprise. John Baptist’s disciples approached the Lord with a question from John: "Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?" (Lk 7.19-23). This was a challenge by doubt. John Baptist had not lost His confidence in the fact that He of whom he preached would come, but looking around the prison where he was incarcerated he thought it possible that he had pointed out the wrong man – yes, a great prophet but not the Christ who would come and deliver. The Lord did not answer, but continued healing and then told them to return and tell John what they had witnessed: the blind saw, the lame walked, lepers were cleansed…! No, John had made no mistake. The actions of the Lord confirmed this beyond all doubt. The opening of prison bars was not yet to be, but one day it would.

There are many believers today who are in circumstances through which they never imagined they would have to pass. John could not reconcile his hopes and the prison in which he was held. It did not seem to add up. Likewise today saints in troubled, pressing circumstances cannot reconcile them, cannot seem to make sense of it all. Let us each remember that, despite all we may see around us, He will work out His purpose for our blessing and His glory.

But yet there was more. The invitation to the supper in the house of Simon the Pharisee (Lk 7.36-49) was a challenge by disrespect. As the Lord entered He was treated as a mendicant, a nobody, a beggar. All watching eyes saw the proud Pharisee seem to achieve the purpose of his invitation. But, what the host refused to do a woman of the city did with tears and devotion. She gave Him the welcome that was His due. The question asked by the Lord (vv.40-42) exposed Simon’s cold heart. She, however, displayed by her tears and by the expensive anointing oils that she lavished on Him, the devotion that was His due.

He showed Himself again to have done all things well (Mk 7.37). As He has done in the past, so He will continue to work out His purpose until it is complete! We ignore the efforts of the Adversary to cast these shadows over Him. He will always triumph, no matter the attempts to challenge His greatness.


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