When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick. — Luke 7:9-10
Corrie ten Boom, who along with other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazi holocaust during World War II, has long been honored by Christians all around the world as an example of Christian faith in action.
One time Corrie spoke at a missionary conference in Vellore, India, on the reality of God’s promises in His Word. Afterward a frail-looking missionary woman approached Corrie and asked if she believed God still divinely healed. Corrie assured the woman that indeed she did. The woman explained that she was ill, and asked Corrie to lay hands on her and pray for her healing. When Corrie agreed, the woman knelt down, Corrie laid hands on her, and together they prayed in the name of Jesus. When the woman arose to her feet, she said, “Now I will tell you my sickness. I have leprosy.”
Corrie had visited leper colonies and was familiar with how that disease ravaged the human body. For one moment she felt fear, and wished that she had known before praying about the woman’s condition. Immediately, though, she felt ashamed of such a thought and asked God to forgive her. In the months that followed, she frequently thought of the woman and prayed for her.
Five years later, Corrie was back in India. One day a beautiful woman came to her hotel room and asked, “Do you remember me?” Corrie thought she looked familiar, but could not place where and when they had met. The woman then asked, “Do you remember a time in Vellore when you laid hands on a leper woman and prayed in Jesus’ name that she would be healed?” Corrie responded, “Oh, yes, I surely do!” The woman told her, “That was me. The Lord wonderfully undertook for me, and the doctors say I am absolutely healed from leprosy.”(1)
In today’s text, we read of a Roman centurion whose servant was desperately ill. The centurion did not see the necessity of Jesus coming to his home to heal his servant, stating that just as he did not need to be present to have his orders carried out, Jesus could simply speak the word and his servant would be healed. In our focus verses, Jesus commended the centurion’s faith, and the servant was healed.
God honors faith. He wants us to pray in faith and ask great things of Him, but we must always ask in accordance with His will. Not everything we ask for in prayer will be accomplished the way we want. When we look back on our lives, most of us can be thankful that God didn’t always answer the way we thought He should, because His way turned out to be best. The same principle applies to healing. We do not know what is best for us, but God does. We should always seek to desire what God desires. However, we do serve a loving God. He does not enjoy our suffering, and He most certainly sympathizes with it. When we ask God to heal us, we can have the confidence that He can heal and that He may very well do that for us. Remember, our faith is in a great God. Faith in His power is “great faith,” and great faith often results in miracles.
Today’s text covers two events: the healing of the centurion’s servant (verses 1-10), and the raising of the widow’s son from the dead (verses 11-17).
This section of Luke starts out as Jesus and the disciples left the plains where He had preached and healed, and entered into Capernaum, a fishing community on the north side of the Sea of Galilee.
Capernaum is where Peter, Andrew, James, and John originally lived and fished, and where Jesus called them to follow Him. Jesus called this city His home during at least a portion of His ministry. From there He traveled to Nain (which means “fair” or “lovely”), a community around twenty miles southwest of Capernaum, near Mount Tabor.
The centurion was probably a member of Herod Antipas’ forces, which were often organized into companies of one hundred. Roman soldiers were generally hated by the Jews because of their oppression and control. However, the centurion in today’s text was recognized even by the Jewish populace as an honorable man who was a friend of the Jews, a “worthy” man who had even built a synagogue for them.
The healing of the widow’s son is a miracle recorded only by Luke. In that day, honoring the dead was an important part of Jewish tradition, and part of the ceremony was a funeral procession. Hired mourners often were part of such a procession; they mourned aloud and drew attention to the event. The “bier,” referenced in verse 14, was a flat platform like a stretcher or bed on which the body lay wrapped in cloths. Generally, the family’s period of mourning lasted thirty days.
Widows in that culture were in a very vulnerable position. They typically were supported by male family members, and since this woman’s only son had died, she likely would have been left with no means of livelihood. While many of Jesus’ miracles likely were done to attest to His divinity, according to verse 13, the motive for this instance of divine intervention was compassion for the sorrowing mother.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. The ministry of the Son of Man
C. The climax of the ministry of the Son of Man
3. The authentication of the Son of Man
a. The healing of the centurion’s servant (7:1-10)
(1) The setting (7:1-5)
(2) The centurion’s attitude (7:6-8)
(3) Jesus’ response (7:9-10)
b. The raising of the widow’s son (7:11-17)
(1) The setting (7:11-12)
(2) The miracle (7:13-15)
(3) The response (7:16-17)
God is well able to undertake on our behalf when we approach Him in true faith.
1 Corrie ten Boom with Jamie Buckingham, Tramp for the Lord: The Story that Begins Where the Hiding Place Ends, p.135-137