By Bill Spaans:
Chapter seven of Luke’s gospel includes several stories of people who were in relationship with Jesus. There was the Centurion whose servant was ill; the woman who was grieving because her son had died; John the Baptist; John’s disciples sent by John to make enquiries about Jesus; the Pharisee who invited Jesus into his home for dinner; and a “sinful woman” full of remorse, and with a desire to serve. Jesus’ touched each of their hearts in a different way.
- The Centurion had great faith and respect for Jesus. He fully trusted in Jesus but felt unworthy to have Him come into his house. Jesus recognized his deep faith and responded to his request. The servant was healed.
- The woman was grieving the death of her son. Jesus had compassion for her and restored her son to life!
- John the Baptist was apparently beginning to have his doubts about Jesus (perhaps John was already languishing in prison), and he sent his disciples to ask if Jesus was really the long-expected Messiah. Jesus responds by praising John for who he was, a prophet sent by God.
- John’s disciples came as dutiful followers of John to make enquirers about Jesus. And Jesus takes the time to answer their questions about Him.
- The Centurion treated Jesus shamefully. The custom of that day was to provide for guests to have their feet washed and their bodies refreshed before sitting down for dinner. The Centurion did none of those things.
- In contrast, the “sinful woman” was full of remorse and served Jesus by washing His feet with oil. In response Jesus defended her against the accusations levelled by the Centurion and forgave her sins.
So how are you approaching Jesus today, and how am I? Is it with deep respect; with unquestioning trust; with deep sorrow in our hearts; with doubts; with curiosity, as sincere seekers after the truth; with shame; with a desire to serve? Or is it with poorly hidden contempt such as the Pharisee demonstrated?
In verse 23 (NET) Jesus is quoted as saying: “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” A previous pastor of our church used to say “Jesus is a gentleman. He does not impose Himself on anyone”. Jesus accepts us as we are and will meet us at the point of our need. However, He is always quick to resist judgementalism and a superior attitude. It is interesting to compare the heart attitude of the Centurion with that of the Pharisees. Both were leaders of men in their own sphere of influence. The Centurion apparently led with a humble heart. He cared enough for his servant to seek Jesus’ help and was humble enough to recognize Jesus’ power and authority. And Jesus met his need. The Pharisee on the other hand felt self-righteous and threatened by Jesus. And Jesus called him out for it!
In James 4:10 we read “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.” As individuals and as a congregation let us humbly approach Jesus today. And He will lift us up. To God be the glory!