A garden – “Come walk with me through My garden so I can show you where my thoughts and commands to you are rooted and grow into the beautiful flowers of obedience”. As I listen, I am aware of the TREE – that tree that caused all the trouble – ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’, and there is Satan beckoning me to come and try some of the fruit – promising me “freedom” (actually the illusion of freedom) from the constraints of a fearful and angry God. My answer is a clear NO – I will deny myself and take up my cross – give up the notion of independence, even in a small way, from my Eternal Father – to walk close to Him – hand in hand as He guides me. “Come with Me and I will show you some delights in My garden – more beautiful than you could ever believe is possible. I have given you a companion to live with you in the garden – but the ultimate Companion will be Myself when you are finally joined to me at the ‘Marriage Supper of the Lamb'”
My reading Luke 7:11-18, is linked closely to yesterday’s reading of 7:1-10. This is the beginning of a new section which lasts to 8:56 , a series of stories with the main theme of “salvation” intermingled with a few parables. In the background, of course the main melody line of Luke – “who is this Man”? and “what has He come to do”? Why don’t you read through these two stories and see what you can glean from them, what Jesus wants to say to you to-day. Noting firstly how Luke uses contrasts to teach. See if you can spot the clue to the main theme.
OK so here’s the clue: 7:19 “Are you the One who was to come [Messiah], or should we expect someone else?” So what does this passage say that gives us the insight to know the answer? And what do the two stories reveal about Jesus’ purpose?
Firstly the contrast: First story; the main figure (except Jesus) is a gentile (outside of the Covenant race), an important and good man, interceding on behalf of his slave (doulos) who is severely ill. So humble he doesn’t feel worthy of speaking to Jesus himself. In the other a widow, weak, losing her one source of security in the future, her son. She has no standing and doesn’t even say anything to Jesus. In the first story Jesus “saves” the doulos, at a distance, and commends the Centurion for his faith, which can be seen as the vehicle which brought Jesus’ response. In the other story there is nothing said about faith, Jesus, out of compassion raises the son from the dead. But there is a key word – vs 15b “Jesus gave the son back his mother.
Are these two healings contradictory? I suggest absolutely not – these are two aspects of Jesus’ great mission of salvation, which for instance is so beautifully described in Ephesians 2:1-8: “We were all dead in our trespasses and sins v 1, and Jesus, because of His great mercy made us alive” vs 5 and then in vs 8 “For it is by grace we have been saved, (the Greek word for saved and healed is the same sozo) through faith and this not of yourselves, it is a gift of God”. Do you see that both are true – by faith and – it is a gift, totally free?
So who is this man who walks through these stories today? Do you know how important it is that we see who this Man really is? That is what transforms us. That is what settles our anxious hearts. It is the true and growing knowledge and understanding of who this Man really is This Man who, in my mind, walked with me in His garden this morning. Who do you say He is? Truly, deep down in your heart, where only He can see and where only He can go to change and heal you and raise you from the dead.
“Be still and know that I am – Who? Who is your God?