Luke 7

From the Beatitudes to the Parables[a]

Chapter 7

Jesus Heals the Centurion’s Servant.[b] 1 After Jesus had finished speaking to the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 A centurion who dwelt there had a servant whom he regarded highly and who was ill and near death. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to ask him if he would come and heal his servant.

4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “He deserves this favor from you, 5 for he loves our people, and he was the one who built our synagogue for us.”

6 Jesus went with them. When he drew near the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 That is the reason why I did not presume to approach you personally. But say the word and let my servant be healed. 8 For I also am a man subject to authority, with soldiers who are subject to me. I say to one: ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another: ‘Come here,’ and he comes, and to my servant: ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9 When Jesus heard these words, he was amazed, and, turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, in no one throughout Israel have I found faith as great as this.” 10 When the messengers returned to the house, they found the servant completely healthy.

11 Jesus Raises the Son of a Widow.[c] Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a large crowd. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his widowed mother. A large group of people from the town accompanied her.

13 When the Lord saw her, he was filled with compassion, and he said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 After this, he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers halted. Then he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

16 Fear seized all who were present, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people.” 17 The news of what he had done spread throughout Judea and the surrounding region.

18 Jesus Answers the Baptist’s Question.[d] When the disciples of John brought him reports about all these things, 19 John designated two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 20 When they came to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask: ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ ”

21 At that time, Jesus had just cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits, and had restored the sight of many who were blind. 22 And he gave them this reply: “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 23 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

24 Jesus Praises John the Baptist.[e]When John’s messengers had departed, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swaying in the wind? 25 What did you go out to see? Someone robed in fine clothing? Those who are robed in gorgeous clothing and live luxuriously are to be found in royal palaces. 26 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written:

‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John, and yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

29 (All the people who heard him, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the saving justice of God, for they had received John’s baptism. 30 However, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who had refused his baptism rejected God’s plan for them.)

31 Indecisive Children.“Then to what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to each other:

‘We played the flute for you,
but you would not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you refused to mourn.’

33 “For John the Baptist has come, eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say: ‘He is possessed.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say: ‘Look at him! He is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 Yet wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

36 Jesus Pardons a Sinful Woman.[f] One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to dine with him. When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house, he took his place at table. 37 A woman of that town, who was leading a sinful life, learned that Jesus was a dinner guest in the Pharisee’s house. Carrying with her an alabaster jar of ointment,[g] 38 she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were really a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus then said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He replied, “What is it, Teacher?”

41 “There were two men who were in debt to a certain creditor. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other owed fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay him, he canceled both debts. Now which one of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I would imagine that it would be the one who was forgiven the larger amount.” Jesus replied, “You have judged rightly.”

44 Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your home, and you provided no water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but she has not ceased to kiss my feet from the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you: her many sins have been forgiven her because she has shown great love. But the one who has been forgiven little has little love.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Those who were at table began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 But Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Footnotes

  1. Luke 7:1 The first 17 verses in this section recount two miracles of Christ, which highlight his mission both to the Jews and to the Gentiles. The next 33 verses then have to do with Jesus and the Baptist. The first Christian generations no doubt encountered groups who were followers of John the Baptist. Hence, it was most necessary to comprehend well the destiny of this prophet. Several times Luke sketches a parallel between John and Jesus (see Lk 1:5-56; 3:1-20; 9:7-9). Each time the Baptist impresses us by his courage, and each time Christ’s mission seems so different from his. Between these two destinies there is a kind of rupture, the difference of the two Testaments.
  2. Luke 7:1 Every miracle testifies to Christ’s power to save people. But this miracle is reported above all to teach the cost of faith in Jesus and to astound us with the faith of a pagan. Luke describes the deep religious attitude of this man. At that time, it was only at great cost that a Roman official would invite a Jew or show consideration for the one God worshiped by a conquered people. This miracle, granted to a pagan who trusted solely in the power of Jesus, discreetly announces the call of non-Jews to salvation (see Acts 10:34-35).
  3. Luke 7:11 Luke is the only one who reports this incident, which takes place in a village in the area of Nazareth. God manifests himself once again as he did in the time of the prophets Elijah and Elisha (see 1 Ki 17:17-24; 2 Ki 4:18-37).
  4. Luke 7:18 Jesus answers John by telling him of the signs which he, Jesus, is performing: those foreseen by the Prophets (Ps 72:2, 12-13; Isa 61:1-2). He is not the liberator of a nation but someone who takes the side of the wretched and marginalized of this world (see Lk 4:16-19).
  5. Luke 7:24 John the Baptist, messenger of the Savior, surpasses the Prophets because he precedes and announces the coming of the Lord (Lk 1:17, 76; Mal 3:1), but Jesus alone inaugurates this new time of the kingdom. The austere preaching of John moved the people and the tax collectors, those who were despised, whereas the officials of the religion rejected him in the same way they disdained the call to joy addressed to them by Jesus. This shows the narrow-mindedness of those who believe themselves wise in the face of the unexpected accomplished by God. But the true believers welcome the plan of the Lord who saves, i.e., his “wisdom.”
  6. Luke 7:36 The other three evangelists place this incident just before the Passion. Luke, however, keeps it here to show that his primary concern is with the mercy and forgiveness of God. He is the only evangelist to hand down the memory of good relations between Jesus and the Pharisees who invite him to dine (see also Lk 11:37; 14:1): these men, too, are children of Israel and will be given the instruction that they really need.
  7. Luke 7:37 The woman is certainly not Mary Magdalene (see Lk 8:2) nor Mary the sister of Lazarus (Lk 10:39; Jn 11:5). The immense popularity of Mary Magdalene was due to a confusion, which occurred as far back as Christian antiquity, between the sinful woman who is forgiven here and the real Mary Magdalene, who was one of the main figures on Calvary and at the tomb.

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