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Bible ourhomewithgodcomContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 7:18-23

Messengers from John the Baptist

 18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?'” 21In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

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In the first part of Luke 7, we have accounts of two more marvellous creative miracles. The first is Jesus’s healing of the centurion’s servant, who was near death (verses 6 and 7, emphases mine):

6And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.

What a wonderful example of humility from a powerful man. In verses 9 and 10, we read:

9When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

The second miracle concerns Jesus’s resurrecting the widow of Nain’s only son when He and His disciples encountered the funeral procession (verses 14-17):

14Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

These miracles and others were what John the Baptist’s disciples reported to him (verse 18).  John the Baptist, sought clarification that this was indeed Jesus; he sent two of his followers to find out (verses 19 and 20). Perhaps the prophet expected more pomp from the Messiah; we do not know his reasoning.

Jesus answered them by performing a flurry of healing miracles over the next hour (verse 21). The more I read the Gospels, the more struck I am by Jesus’s concern for people’s physical wellbeing. Medicine was next to nothing at the time; it was a primitive practice of herbal remedies and suffering. The pain of those seeking cures is difficult for us to appreciate today. Jesus showed them His infinite mercy.

Matthew Henry says that Jesus intended this hour of miracles as proof that He was indeed the Redeemer:

He multiplied the cures, that there might be no ground left to suspect a fraud …

John MacArthur says:

Now John would have known that certainly the blind receiving sight and the gospel being preached to the poor comes from Isaiah 61 so Jesus was fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. But the fact that He could give sight to the blind, He could make lame people walk, lepers be cleansed, deaf people hear and raise dead people was a clear indication of who He was …

After the hour of creative — and no doubt dramatic — miracles, He tells John’s disciples to tell him the full extent of what they witnessed (verse 22).

Finally, He says that blessed are those who are not embarrassed by Him (verse 23). That is a curious thing to say, however, Henry says that Jesus was alluding to His humble state and lack of pomp. Therefore, blessed are those who can overlook this and believe:

We are here in a state of trial and probation; and it is agreeable to such a state that, as there are sufficient arguments to confirm the truth to those that are honest and impartial in searching after it, and have their minds prepared to receive it, so there should be also objections, to cloud the truth to those that are careless, worldly, and sensual. Christ’s education at Nazareth, his residence at Galilee, the meanness of his family and relations, his poverty, and the despicableness of his followers—these and the like were stumbling-blocks to many, which all the miracles he wrought could not help them over. He is blessed, for he is wise, humble, and well disposed, that is not overcome by these prejudices. It is a sign that God has blessed him, for it is by his grace that he is helped over these stumbling-stones; and he shall be blessed indeed, blessed in Christ.

It’s interesting that the modern, social Gospel clergy rarely speak of Christ’s creative miracles or His preaching, for that matter. They speak mostly of the Beatitudes and the Loaves and the Fishes. Whilst those are also of great importance, they are not the whole of what He did during His public ministry.

Doubters — so-called ‘Christians’ — also disregard these healings. Why? They are central to Jesus’s nature and show His infinite and unconditional love for us. Jesus asked for nothing when He healed. He did not demand faith or money or time spent in His service. If this does not demonstrate selflessness, what else does in His progression to the Crucifixion, Resurrection and sending the Holy Spirit?

Jesus is a highly personal Saviour, Redeemer and friend. May we consider Him as such.

Next time: Luke 7:24-30

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