For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

7:1.  “Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.

7:2.  “And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.”

Capernaum means village of comfort, and the Lord’s healing the servant of this Gentile may well be the foreshadowing of the fact that eventually Israel’s rejection of Him would result in His turning to the Gentiles. 

In this centurion’s compassion for his servant we catch a glimpse of God’s compassion for us; and in the servant’s condition we see the portrait of our own spiritual state before the Lord saved us.  We too were sick, and ready to die.

7:3.  “And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.”

The faith and humility of this Gentile are remarkable, for he believed that the Lord could heal the sick servant, but he considered himself unworthy to even approach the Lord personally, hence his asking the Jewish elders to present his plea.

The centurion’s humility rebukes the irreverence frequently displayed by professing believers in the Lord’s presence.

7:4.  “And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy (deserving of this favor) for whom he should do this:”

7:5.  “For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”

This continues to demonstrate the basic error of Jewish thinking (and the thinking of many Gentiles also), that salvation was available only to those who kept the law, and did good works; and it seems that the centurion to some extent was guilty of the same wrong reasoning.  His love for Israel, and his having built them a synagogue indicate that he was a man genuinely seeking to know God, but that he believed that acceptance with God was available only on the basis of works.

An essential truth that must be grasped by all men is that there is no man worthy of blessing, but rather of eternal judgment, for “All have sinned,” Ro 3:23, and no man can ever make himself worthy of God’s pardon except through confession of unworthiness, and trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

7:6.  “Then Jesus went with them, And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:”

7:7.  “Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.”

His humility and faith were genuine.  Had they not been, the Lord would certainly have known.  This unsaved Gentile puts many of us to shame.

7:8.  “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

As another has pointed out, this declares that he believed Jesus to have the same authority over sickness as Rome had over him, and as he had over his soldiers.  In other words, he believed that the Lord had simply to bid the sickness depart, and it would.

7:9.  “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled 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.”

It was very different with Israel, for in Mk 6:6 it is recorded that He marveled at the Jews’ unbelief.

7:10.  “And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.”

It had been unto him according to his faith, and this ought to encourage us to have similar faith. 

We cannot but wonder what followed the healing of the servant, and though Scripture doesn’t record it, there can scarcely be doubt that the centurion and the servant alike, and many, if not all of his household, came to know the Lord as Savior.

The account of this same incident in Mt 8:5-13 states that the centurion himself came to the Lord, but there is no contradiction: the explanation seems to be that he first sent the Jewish leaders, and then came himself, after having allowed them time to explain the situation to the Lord.

7:11.  “And it came to pass the day after (subsequently), that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.”

7:12.  “Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.”

Nain means afflicted: beautiful.      If the Lord’s going to the centurion foreshadows His turning to the Gentiles following His rejection by Israel, then it may be that this present scene depicts His return to Israel during the Tribulation, her time of weeping.  The widowed mother would represent Israel (described several times in Scripture as a widow - Isa 54:4; La 1:1); and the resurrected son, the 144,000 saved after the rapture of the Church, they being the beginning of the remnant that will be saved (raised up out of spiritual death) in the Tribulation.

7:13.  “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.”

It was the same compassion for a perishing world that led the Lord out to Calvary to die so that men might be saved.

Of practical value to us is the fact that had that widow but known it, all her tears were unnecessary; and so is it often with us.  Like Peter attempting to walk on the sea, we take our eyes off the Lord, and immediately we are overwhelmed by circumstances, instead of resting peacefully in the assurance that, “All things work together for good to them that love God,” Ro 8:28.

7:14.  “And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still.  And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.”

Their standing still reminds us that man has no part in the salvation of a soul.  As it was on the shores of the Red Sea when the Egyptians pursued the recently delivered Israelites, and Moses commanded the people, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex 14:13), so is it always in regard to salvation. Man must stand still.  Only God can work this miracle.

The young man’s resurrection occurring as his body was being carried to the tomb, and when humanly speaking all hope was gone, foreshadows what will be in connection with Israel’s spiritual resurrection in the Tribulation.  It too will occur when it will seem that all hope is gone, and the nation seems about to be cut off by the forces of the beast.  Apart from the resurrection of her son, the widow’s line would have been cut off, for he was her only son.

7:15.  “And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak.  And he delivered him to his mother.”

As noted already, this may foreshadow the conversion of the first part of the remnant in the Tribulation.  Physical death portrays the spiritual death in which all the unconverted lie, and as a dead man cannot rise by his own power, neither can a sinner rise out of spiritual death apart from the working of God’s almighty power.

His beginning to speak reminds us that every believer is responsible to testify to God’s saving grace, as it is written, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Ro 10:9).  The testimony of the 144,000 will result in the salvation of many Jews and Gentiles in the Tribulation.

If we have been correct in seeing the man’s resurrection as a picture of the salvation of the 144,000, then his being delivered to his mother declares the truth that as she was made to rejoice so will Israel also rejoice in God’s salvation in the Tribulation.

We have the same responsibility today to testify to others, and to bring to them the same joy as was experienced by that widowed mother.  No joy equals that of salvation.

7:16.  “And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.”

So will it be after the Tribulation.  Those terrible judgments will produce that reverential fear of God which is His due, but which men deny Him today; and as it is with testimony, so is it also with reverence.  The irreverence of the world has affected the professing church.  It behooves us to remember that He Who is our God, is the One in whose presence angel’s veil their faces.

The confession, “That God hath visited his people” will be the confession of the remnant in the Tribulation.

7:17.  “And this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.”

As the news of the Lord Jesus Christ spread abroad following this miracle, so is it God’s desire that the truth relative to Christ should spread abroad as a result of our testimony.  A feature of the Tribulation age that will be different from this present Church age is that before the Tribulation ends, the whole world will have heard the Gospel.  That is not true of this present age.  The whole world will not have heard the gospel before the Rapture.  Were it otherwise, no one could be saved in the Tribulation, for 2 Th 2 makes it clear that the converts of that terrible era will be they who had never previously heard the gospel.

7:18.  “And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.”

John’s being told these things was doubtless to encourage him by confirming that the One of Whom he had testified was indeed the Christ.

7:19.  “And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?”

John was in prison (see Mt 11:2), and his uncertainty regarding the Lord assures us that he was no different from other men, in that he must have faith to believe that the Lord’s miracles were the proof that He was the Messiah.  John’s uncertainty seems to have been rooted in the fact that he, like all the other believers, was looking for the immediate setting up of the millennial kingdom, none of them apparently grasping the truth that the Lord must first die to make atonement for sin, rise again, return to heaven, and then after seven years of tribulation on the earth, return in power and glory to inaugurate the kingdom.  Such was the preoccupation of Israel, believers and unbelievers alike, with Christ as the Lion of Judah, that they ignored the equally clear word of prophecy that Messiah must first die, hence their difficulty to grasp the truth that this meek, lowly, despised Jesus was He.  John possibly wondered why this One Whom he had believed to be the Messiah, didn’t deliver His servant out of Herod’s hand.  It was difficult even for him to reconcile his being left in prison, while the One in Whom resided the inherent power to vanquish every foe and establish the millennial kingdom, exercised that power simply to heal the sick and raise the dead.  It wasn’t until after His resurrection that even the disciples grasped the full truth of the two lines of prophecy concerning the Messiah. 

In connection with this passage William MacDonald quotes a very appropriate comment made by C.G. Moore, “I know of no hours more trying to faith than those in which Jesus multiplies evidences of His power and does not use it.”

A practical lesson for us relative to the Lord’s not only leaving John in prison, but permitting him also to be executed, is that we must not measure His love or power by outward circumstances, but have the faith to believe that “All things work together for good to them that love God,” Ro 8:28.

7:20.  “When the men were come unto him, they said, John the Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

7:21.  “And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.”

The Lord’s miracles attested His claim to be the long awaited Messiah, for no mere man could have wrought such miracles, but the fact remained that His sin-atoning death, and resurrection, must precede the inauguration of the millennial kingdom.

7:22.  “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.”

As men are known by their works rather than by any profession they may make, so would Christ as Man live by the same standard. He didn’t merely ask men to believe in Him - His works justified their faith.  It ought to be the same with us.  Our deeds should encourage men to believe the Gospel we preach.

The Lord’s intent obviously was to strengthen John’s faith, so that however much John might lack exact knowledge as to the time of the setting up of the kingdom, he would not cease to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.  What was more needful for John was that however much outward circumstances might raise doubts in his mind, the power displayed in the Lord’s miracles was to banish those doubts.  And so is it with us.  We are not to look at circumstances, but at what is written concerning the Lord in His infallible Word, and to cling to the belief that everything written there will most certainly be fulfilled.

7:23.  “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”

Other translations of this verse are, “... who has no doubts about me”; “... who does not lose confidence in me”; “... who never loses faith in me.”  No matter what circumstances may indicate to the contrary we are never to doubt the Lord’s love for us, Calvary being the great antidote for all such doubt.

7:24.  “And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John.  What went ye out into the wilderness for to see?  A reed shaken with the wind?”

The Lord’s testimony to John, delayed until John’s disciples had departed, reminds us that it isn’t here on earth that we are to be looking for the Lord’s commendation.  The Bema is the place where commendation and reward will be given.  The Lord valued John no less because He reserved His praise until the departure of the messengers.  He values us no less because He withholds His commendation until the Bema.

To the eye of man, John clothed in the rough garment of the prophet, and eating locusts and wild honey, may have seemed of as little worth as a patch of reeds waving in the wind, but the Lord’s estimate of His servant was very different.  The wind is a Biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit, and as literal reeds bend to the will of the wind, so did John move and speak only at the impulse of the Holy Spirit.  The Lord sets a very high value on all such obedience.

John’s not being as a reed shaken by the wind is generally understood to mean that he was a man of strong convictions who didn’t change with every wind of circumstance.

7:25.  “But what went ye out for to see?  A man clothed in soft raiment?  Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.”

Such was the perversity of the nation to which the Lord presented Himself, that as they were repelled by the prophet’s Spartan lifestyle, so would they also have found fault with John had he come in the guise of a king.  And as it was with the forerunner, so was it also with the Master, as is declared in verses 31-35.

7:26.  “But what went ye out for to see?  A prophet?  Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.”

Man’s appraisal of John mattered little, nor does man’s evaluation of us matter much.  It was sufficient that the Lord approved, and declared him to be more than a prophet.  It should be sufficient for us that the Lord approves of our lives, hence the need to live so as to be worthy of His approval.

7:27.  “This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

The OT references are Isa 40:3 and Mal 3:1, but it is significant that in Mal 3:1 the wording is, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me,” but here in Luke it is, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”  This is another proof that Jesus Christ is God.

7:28.  “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

It seems that John was greater than the other OT prophets only in that he, the last of them, had the privilege of actually seeing and introducing the Messiah whose coming the others had foretold.

The latter part of this verse seems to imply that John was not in the kingdom of God, i.e., that he wasn’t a believer, but since he was a believer, the further implication is that we are meant to view the term “kingdom of God,” in the present context, in a more restricted sense than its being simply the whole sphere of creation, or the realm of faith.  It may be therefore that the Lord was using the term in its application to the realm of faith in the Church age only, because He knew that Israel would reject Him, and thereby forfeit the earthly millennial kingdom which He was then offering, her rejection compelling Him to withdraw the offer until a day still future.  This appears to be the only possible explanation of the Lord’s words, for the least member of the Church has a place superior to that of any believer of any other age.  Only Church age believers are members of Christ’s body.  They have a place of unique nearness to Him which is beautifully portrayed in connection with Joseph.  Those reconciled brethren who had once sold Joseph to what they thought would be death, represent Israel converted during the Tribulation, and then passing into the Millennium.  He, ruling Egypt, and blessing those repentant and reconciled brethren,  portrays Christ ruling the millennial world, and blessing repentant and reconciled Israel, His brethren according to the flesh.  Near and dear as were those reconciled brethren, nearer and dearer was Asenath, the Gentile bride given Joseph during the time of his rejection by his brethren.  She portrays the Church. Relative to John, it is to be remembered that he died before the Church age began, so that though a believer, he was not a member of the Church.  His place in the eternal kingdom of God will correspond to that of Joseph’s reconciled brethren.  He will be near to Christ, but not as near as even the least of those who constitute the Church which is His bride.

7:29.  “And all the people that heard him (John), and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.”

In spite of the ambiguity of the KJ translation, it is generally agreed that the Speaker is still the Lord, and His reference is to the response of the people and the publicans to John’s preaching.  Their justifying God relates to their confession that they were sinners whose repentance and faith were displayed in their submitting to John’s baptism.  These penitents acknowledged that God was just when He called upon them to repent, and that same acknowledgment must be made by every sinner who would be saved.

7:30.  “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”

The self-righteous Jewish leaders refused to accept God’s assessment of their spiritual state as declared by John, and accordingly refused to submit to his baptism, for as noted already baptism is the symbolic confession of guilt, but also of redemption through faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is no different today.  The self-righteous, religious, but unconverted man, refuses God’s salvation, because he refuses to see himself as a sinner who needs the Savior.  He refuses to accept the fact that he needs to repent and trust in Christ’s finished work.

7:31.  “And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?”

The Lord marveled at the stubborn unbelief of the Jewish leaders. They who should have seen most clearly that He was the long-promised Messiah, were those most adamant in denying His claims. And it is the same today.  The religious rulers of Christendom are for the most part the leaders in denying that men are sinners who need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved from hell and fitted for heaven.

7:32.  “They are like children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.”

7:33.  “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.”

7:34.  “The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!”

Like children refusing to play funeral, they rejected the ministry of John who warned them to flee from coming wrath.  Nothing he could say induced repentance.  In their ignorant complacency they considered themselves so righteous as to have no need of repentance.  They were also like children who refused to play wedding.  The ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ which offered them pardon for sin, and God’s priceless of gift of eternal life, was likewise unacceptable to them.  Dependent on their own imaginary self-righteousness obtained by equally imaginary law keeping, they refused the offered gift.  They were of such a critical self-righteous spirit that nothing pleased them.  They found fault with everyone and everything except themselves, and yet it was in themselves that all the fault lay. Such was their blind unbelief that they would justify themselves even though that judgment made Christ Himself guilty of sin!

7:35.  “But wisdom is justified of all her children.”

This may be taken to mean that each man believes that his attitude and conduct are wise, e.g., the Jewish leaders thought themselves to be very wise; but it is generally understood to mean that the wisdom of God alone is that which truly wise men, i.e., believers, acknowledge to be right.  The truly wise man, accepting the condemnation pronounced by John, first repents and weeps; and then, accepting the gift of pardon and eternal life offered by the Lord Jesus Christ, rejoices that he has passed from death to life, having been saved from hell and fitted for heaven, not through his own attempted law keeping, but by the Lord’s vicarious death, and glorious resurrection.

7:36.  “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him.  And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.”

The events recorded here must not be confused with those recorded in Mt 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9 and Jn 12:1-8.  There the host was Simon who had been cured of leprosy, and the woman is generally accepted as having been Mary of Bethany, sister of Lazarus and Martha.

Here the Pharisee, also called Simon (a common name), was clearly not a believer, but rather an antagonist who probably sought opportunity to embarrass the Lord.  This supper is generally believed to have taken place earlier in the course of the Lord’s ministry than the one mentioned above in the house of Simon the former leper.

7:37.  “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment (fragrant oil),”

7:38.  “And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”

In those days people dining reclined with their heads towards the table, and their feet away from it with the sandals removed, hence its being said that she “stood at his feet behind him,” her ministry neither disturbing Him nor the other guests.

This woman’s name is not known, and apart from what is recorded of her here, we know nothing other than that she was a sinner, but, it is to be noted, a sinner who, as the context clearly indicates, had already been forgiven, see verse 47, a fact which implies a previous encounter with the Lord.  Her activity as described here was her response to that forgiveness.  How different was her conduct from that of the self-righteous, and therefore unforgiven Pharisee!  The very courtesies he had neglected, she bestowed, and with such loving devotion as made Simon’s neglect all the more conspicuous.  Yet men considered her a sinner, and Simon righteous; but the Lord saw things very differently.  He commended her, and rebuked Simon.  The opulence of the Pharisee’s table paled into insignificance compared with the literal and spiritual fragrance of the ointment she lovingly lavished on the Lord.  The difference between the two is set before us in 1 Corinthians 13.  What isn’t impelled by love for Christ is as worthless “as sounding brass, or a tinkling symbol.”

7:39.  “Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who, and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.”

In his complacent self-righteousness, the Pharisee could neither see his own shortcoming, nor the loving devotion of the woman.  If ever a man had a beam in his eye, it was Simon.  Like all his breed, he looked only on the outward part with no concern for what was in the heart, but God looks on the heart.  The Lord knew what was in the woman’s heart, as He did also what was in Simon’s.  That inward look justified the woman, and condemned the Pharisee, for it is what is in the heart that matters with God.  Simon in his self-righteous pride not only condemned the woman, but also the Lord: he doubted even whether the Lord was a prophet, much less the Messiah!

7:40.  “And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee.  And he saith, Master, say on.”

The Pharisee, failing to realize that the Guest read his heart, thought to hide what was lodged there, and feigned goodwill by addressing the Lord as Teacher.

7:41.  “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other, fifty.”

7:42.  “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.  Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”

All men are God’s debtors, incapable of repaying the debt, for whether the outward sins are the equivalent of five hundred pence or fifty, the fact remains that all alike are possessed of a fallen corrupt nature, for which the only remedy is a new birth, brought about through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  From that perspective therefore all are under the same condemnation.  All stand in the same need - Simon as much as the woman, needed to be born again.  The difference was that she knew it, he didn’t.

7:43.  “Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.  And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”

Even in his spiritual blindness the Pharisee gave a right judgment; but his qualifying “I suppose...”  may have been impelled by a premonition that he might perhaps be exposing himself to censure, and he sought if possible to leave himself some way of escape by giving a reply that was less than unequivocal.

7:44.  “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman?  I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.”

Against the background of the woman’s devotion, Simon’s dereliction stands forth in even sharper focus.

7:45.  “Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.”

The coldness of the Pharisee’s heart stands the more clearly exposed by the warmth of the woman’s love.  Do we say we love the Lord?  Then let our obedience prove it, remembering His command, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jn 14:15.

7:46.  “My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.”

The Pharisee had omitted every common courtesy, and the woman’s love continued, without intent on her part, to reveal the coldness of his heart.  The best barometer by which to measure our love for the Lord is not by outward religious activity, or what we ourselves think, but by the obedience we are willing to render Him, for as noted above, it is He Himself Who said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jn 14:15.

7:47.  “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

She was forgiven, not because of her works, but because she very obviously believed in Christ as her Savior, for only the redeemed can love God, as it is written, “We love him, because he first loved us,” 1 Jn 4:19; and as the Lord declared, love is in proportion to the amount of sin forgiven.  If we love the Lord only a little, it isn’t because the number of our sins was small, but because we fail to comprehend just how sinful we were when He forgave those sins and saved us.

7:48.  “And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.”

The Lord wasn’t satisfied to leave the announcement of her forgiveness in the form of a general statement to the whole company: He made it very personal.  He addressed only her when He said, “Thy sins are forgiven.”  Forgiveness is always personal.  Multitudes are willing to say, “I believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world,” but not, “I believe that He died for my sins.”  The confession of the true believer is always personal, “He died for me, for my sins.”

7:49.  “And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, who is this that forgiveth sins also?”

The clear implication is that they considered Him a blasphemer, for only God can forgive sins, and they refused to believe that He was God the Son, coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

7:50.  “And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

This places beyond question that it was her faith, and not her works that had saved her.  Her good works were simply the expression of the love of her redeemed heart.

[Luke 8]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough