In this blog, I am focusing on Luke 6 and 7, and Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. At this point Jesus had attracted people from all over — poor people and Pharisees. Everywhere he went, he could see people who wanted something from him, like healing, and people who were skeptical and were trying to catch him in heresy, like the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t really want these crowds around him, he had tried to tell people not to spread the word. They were draining.
I can see Jesus in the synagogue filled with compassion for the man with the crippled hand. He wanted to help that man, even at the expense of stirring up a hornets nest by doing so. He healed the man and he could see the firestorm it set in motion.
Shortly after that he went up on the mountainside and spent all night praying, asking God to help him find worthy men to pass his ministry, his heart, onto. He had so much that was of the utmost importance that he wanted to communicate to these men. He needed so much for them to be inspired to follow him and do what he had been doing, to be the hope of the world, the hope of the future.
And so he comes down from the mountain and appoints 12 men and entrusts the future of mankind to them. I can imagine he looked into the face of each one as he told them he was choosing them. He could see the strength and potential of each one, and he knew he had prayed for each one to succeed. I can see him clasping their hands and squeezing them warmly, trying to infuse them with his believe in them and the importance of the work he was giving them, and the wonder of the privilege of sharing God’s good news.
And the first thing he does is begin to teach them. By this time there are people everywhere, ragged beggars, sick people, lame men on canes, blind men, people with sores that are bound up, Pharisees looking at him with skeptical eyes. But he still relates to all who can hear the most important lessons about God that he can put into words. I am sure his teaching was earnest, he is telling them things that will save their lives, things they can tell to others to save their lives. He is pouring his heart and his passion into them.
Then he probably thinks it is time for recharging. He walks to the town of Capernaum, in all likelihood going to the house of Peter so his mother in law can feed him, and he can rest. He is bone weary at this point, with no sleep the night before, having spent the day healing and pouring his heart into his teaching. But the elders of the town have heard he is returning from the countryside. They don’t even let him get to the house. All of a sudden they are before him in the street, and they are begging him to heal yet another person, and a Gentile at that!
Jesus had to trust God’s agenda, and trust God to give him the strength to heal one more person. But how hard it must have been to turn from the path to rest and refreshment, and start walking down more streets to travel to the Centurion’s house! He starts on his way, his disciples trudging alongside.
It must have been such a relief to Jesus to have a servant meet him and say that the centurion said that he didn’t have to travel the whole way, all he needed to do is say the word. All day long people have wanted attention from Jesus. The centurion doesn’t want Jesus’s attention, he just wants Jesus to activate God’s power.
Finally, someone got the point! Jesus healed people, but that wasn’t the point. He taught them his very heart, but wasn’t sure they got it. The Pharisees for sure didn’t understand. But the centurion got it. God is the answer, and God can answer in the space of a word.
And I am looking for someone to get it too. I love people and I want to serve them and give them this love. But I want them to see that it is God they really need. I want them to come to God, not me, to get their needs met. I want to see them rejoicing because they believe that God can turn their life around forever, that this isn’t an impossibility, it is an easy routine thing for Him.