Week of October 4
Jesus continues to demonstrate his role as the Son of God through demonstrations of his power over death, demons and the elements. Jesus is a prophet, even when the circumstances might seem to indicate otherwise.
We begin our look at the texts for this week with a story of Jesus healing the servant of a centurion. There are several remarkable moments in this story. First is the fact that Jesus would be inclined to heal someone from the household of a centurion. This would have been a Roman soldier (with a large regiment under him) although to his credit, he was known as someone sympathetic to the Jews, even building their synagogue for them. This centurion demonstrates a great amount of faith in Jesus, knowing he does not even have to come to the house of the centurion to heal the servant. Jesus tells the people that even in Israel he has not found such faith. Although we have seen some hints of the tension that would develop between the Jewish leaders and Jesus, this is the first time that the contrast has been between a Gentile and the nation of Israel.
Jesus moves on from Capernaum, where he encounters a widow who lost her only son. This would have been a significant moment of crisis in Jesus’ day, for widow women typically did not go get jobs to make ends meet. So on the one hand this story demonstrates Jesus’ compassion for a woman who lost her son, but even more crucial to this compassion is the fact that this woman was left without anyone to take care of her. Jesus’ healing provides her with her safety net, if you will, that would have been lost with the passing of her son.
The two stories above also are important to Luke’s narrative because of their similarities to the story of the healing of Naaman in 1 Kings 5 and the widow for whom Elijah heals her son in 1 Kings 17. Jesus (in Luke 4.14-30) had used both of these examples when he tells the people the prophecy of Isaiah had been fulfilled in their hearing. So not only was Jesus seen as a prophet, he acted like one through his ability to heal in similar ways.
Although we as Luke’s readers understand Jesus as the one to come as Messiah, his actions did not always match up with the expectations people had of a Messiah. John, I think, would have been one of those people. In Luke 7.18-35, John sends his followers to Jesus in order to determine if Jesus really is the one to come. Notice that Jesus does not give an emphatic “Yes” or “Of course,” which we might expect. He instead gives John’s disciples a list of things happening that actually show the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy of Luke 4. It is not just Jesus’s words that demonstrate his role as the Son of God, but his actions reinforce traditionally held prophecies for the Messiah. In other words: “Yes, my life shows I am the one to come.”
Luke again brings up the idea of Jesus as a prophet by telling the story of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman. The setting is a dinner party hosted by Simon, a Pharisee. This might be where we expect Jesus to hang out, except that a woman who was a known sinner shows up and begins to anoint Jesus’ feet. We are not told her sin or even how she got into the dinner, but everyone in attendance knows this woman is a sinner. Simon in many ways asks a similar question John’s disciples ask: Is this man really a prophet, for prophets would not allow sinful people to touch them.
What follows is a contrast between the actions of this woman and Simon the host. In three different ways, Simon falls short of giving Jesus the hospitality that would have been normal yet is shown by this woman: she washes Jesus’ feet, she kisses him, and she anoints his feet. Simon’s lack of attention to hospitality is not excused in spite of his “righteous standing” any more that the woman’s actions are ignored for her lack of standing. In fact, Jesus commends her for her faith and forgives her sins.
Chapter 8 opens with the parable of the sower, indicating the different reactions to people’s hearing of the word of God. Matthew places this parable in the context of others describing the fact that some people will not accept the word of God and it serves as almost a word of encouragement to the people hearing Jesus’ words. Here the parable is set next to the story of allowing ones light shine instead of hiding it. It would seem that Luke’s purpose for both of these stories is more along the lines of hear and react in ways appropriate to that hearing. Let your light shine.
Two more major stories in chapter 8 serve to demonstrate the power of Jesus. First, he heals a man who was possessed by demons. As is often the case, the demons recognize Jesus for who he is (even when those who probably should most recognize him do not). The man is healed, the people are amazed, and Jesus—similar to the stories of letting your light shine—instructs the man to tell others what God has done for him. In a sense, he too is told to shine his light, he just has a much more dramatic understanding of God’s actions than others might.
Finally, Jesus is on his way to heal the daughter of a synagogue leader who was dying. As he is making his way to her house, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touches him. He immediately stops to inquire as to whom touched him. As you read this story, you get a picture of a mass crowd pushing and shoving around Jesus. In the chaos, it would be impossible for a normal man to realize the edge of his cloak had been touched. Jesus’ recognition of this fact is just one of the amazing aspects of this story.
The Greek text indicates that the bleeding this woman was dealing with was related to her menstrual cycle, which would have, according to Jewish laws, made Jesus unclean the moment he was touched by her. Perhaps this is part of the reason she sought to just touch the edge of his garment in private, so as to not make a big deal about her condition. Rather than condemn the woman for making him unclean (notice there is nothing said about being clean or unclean in Luke’s text), Jesus heals this woman because of, he says, her faith.
Jesus goes on to the house of Jairus, where Jesus learns his daughter has passed away, although someone obviously forgets to tell Jesus. He goes into the little girl and commands her to get up, which she does.
It is interesting the number of times a woman has figured into the stories of chapters 7 and 8. A widow’s son is raised, a sinful woman anoints Jesus, there are a large number of woman traveling and supporting Jesus (Luke 8.1-3), and a dead girl and a sick woman are both healed by Jesus. Luke takes great care to mention these interactions with Jesus, which would have been unusual in that day and age. Be sure to take note, both here and in chapters to come of the inclusion of women.
Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.
- What reasons would Jesus have to help the widow woman from Nain? What individuals or groups of people can you think of whom might find themselves in a situation where they are unable to help themselves? What sort of things can you do to help them in their circumstances? In what ways is it important for Luke to us to read that the people identified Jesus as a great prophet? (Luke 7.1-17)
- Why might John the Baptist question whether Jesus was “the one who is to come?” Do you think his question is a question of doubt or simply a desire to gather information? Prior to reading this passage, how might you have expected Jesus to answer John’s question? Are you surprised at the things Jesus mentions in answering John’s question? Why or why not? (Luke 7.18-35)
- In what ways is the Pharisee Simon’s reaction to a sinful woman approaching and touching Jesus a normal response? How do we avoid being touched by “sinners” today? In what ways does Jesus’ response address our desire to avoid sinners? Simon assumes Jesus is not a prophet. How do we know—from this passage and others—that he is? (Luke 7.36-50)
- In what ways have you seen people receive the word of God like Jesus describes in the parable of the sower, only to have the result also match what we read? What do you think Jesus’ point was in telling this parable? In what ways do you see yourself in this story? (Luke 8.1-15)
- We understand Jesus’ instruction about being a lamp to refer to how we hear and react to the word of God. In what ways have you seen people hear the word and hide it under a jar or the bed? In what ways have you seen people shine their lights, to use the lyrics from the song? How can we do a better job of shining our lights? (Luke 8.16-25)
- How do you think it would have felt to be the demon-possessed man living in the tombs? What was his response after Jesus had driven out the demons? How do you respond when you hear the good news of Jesus and your life is changed? In what ways are you diligent in telling others what God has done for you? (Luke 8.26-39)
- What examples of Jesus’ power do we see in the story of the dead girl and the sick woman? How do you think you would have responded to these examples had you been in the crowd with Jesus that day? How much faith do you sense in both the leader of the synagogue and the woman who had been bleeding? (Luke 8.40-56)
Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.
- Luke is very intentional about showing us the ways that Jesus was a prophet or at the very least, the fulfillment of prophesies. Using some Bible study software or a concordance, find all of the occasions Luke uses the term prophet or the like. Based on his usages, what sort of picture do we get of Jesus as a prophet?
- Jesus is seen including and interacting with women throughout the gospel of Luke. Go through the gospel, listing all of the women with whom Jesus has interactions. Compare Luke’s gospel with the other three. How do these lists compare? Why do you think Luke spends as much time as he does including women in his narrative?
- Draw a before and after picture of the demon-possessed man from Gerasenes.
- Make a list of all of the things God has done for you. In what ways does listing these things help you see them better? How can we do a better job of seeing things that happen in our lives as a result of God’s working?
- Take the list you made above and tell people about some of the things on your list, much like the demon-possessed man was instructed to tell what God had done for him.
- In what ways do you show your light? In what ways do you hide it? Spend time this week working on doing a better job showing your light to others.
Find lessons, posts about the passages we are studying, and more information at 1homebiblestudy.org.
Find more information about our 1 Groups at 1groups.com.
Find out more information about South Plains at southplains.org.
Tag your posts with #1hbs.
This work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.