The centurion's servant healed. (1-10) The widow's son raised. (11-18) John the Baptist's inquiry concerning Jesus. (19-35) Christ anointed in the house of the Pharisee The parable of the two debtors. (36-50)
Verses 1-10 Servants should study to endear themselves to their masters. Masters ought to take particular care of their servants when they are sick. We may still, by faithful and fervent prayer, apply to Christ, and ought to do so when sickness is in our families. The building places for religious worship is a good work, and an instance of love to God and his people. Our Lord Jesus was pleased with the centurion's faith; and he never fails to answer the expectations of that faith which honours his power and love. The cure soon wrought and perfect.
Verses 11-18 When the Lord saw the poor widow following her son to the grave, he had compassion on her. See Christ's power over death itself. The gospel call to all people, to young people particularly, is, Arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light and life. When Christ put life into him, it appeared by the youth's sitting up. Have we grace from Christ? Let us show it. He began to speak: whenever Christ gives us spiritual life, he opens the lips in prayer and praise. When dead souls are raised to spiritual life, by Divine power going with the gospel, we must glorify God, and look upon it as a gracious visit to his people. Let us seek for such an interest in our compassionate Saviour, that we may look forward with joy to the time when the Redeemer's voice shall call forth all that are in their graves. May we be called to the resurrection of life, not to that of damnation.
Verses 19-35 To his miracles in the kingdom of nature, Christ adds this in the kingdom of grace, To the poor the gospel is preached. It clearly pointed out the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, that the messenger he sent before him to prepare his way, did it by preaching repentance and reformation of heart and life. We have here the just blame of those who were not wrought upon by the ministry of John Baptist or of Jesus Christ himself. They made a jest of the methods God took to do them good. This is the ruin of multitudes; they are not serious in the concerns of their souls. Let us study to prove ourselves children of Wisdom, by attending the instructions of God's word, and adoring those mysteries and glad tidings which infidels and Pharisees deride and blaspheme.
Verses 36-50 None can truly perceive how precious Christ is, and the glory of the gospel, except the broken-hearted. But while they feel they cannot enough express self-abhorrence on account of sin, and admiration of his mercy, the self-sufficient will be disgusted, because the gospel encourages such repenting sinners. The Pharisee, instead of rejoicing in the tokens of the woman's repentance, confined his thoughts to her former bad character. But without free forgiveness none of us can escape the wrath to come; this our gracious Saviour has purchased with his blood, that he may freely bestow it on every one that believes in him. Christ, by a parable, forced Simon to acknowledge that the greater sinner this woman had been, the greater love she ought to show to Him when her sins were pardoned. Learn here, that sin is a debt; and all are sinners, are debtors to Almighty God. Some sinners are greater debtors; but whether our debt be more or less, it is more than we are able to pay. God is ready to forgive; and his Son having purchased pardon for those who believe in him, his gospel promises it to them, and his Spirit seals it to repenting sinners, and gives them the comfort. Let us keep far from the proud spirit of the Pharisee, simply depending upon and rejoicing in Christ alone, and so be prepared to obey him more zealously, and more strongly to recommend him unto all around us. The more we express our sorrow for sin, and our love to Christ, the clearer evidence we have of the forgiveness of our sins. What a wonderful change does grace make upon a sinner's heart and life, as well as upon his state before God, by the full remission of all his sins through faith in the Lord Jesus!
Luke 7:1-10 . CENTURION'S SERVANT HEALED.
4. he was worthy--a testimony most precious, coming from those who probably were strangers to the principle from which he acted ( Ecclesiastes 7:1 ).
5. loved our nation--Having found that "salvation was of the Jews," he loved them for it.
built, &c.--His love took this practical and appropriate form.
Luke 7:11-17 . WIDOW OF NAIN'S SON RAISED TO LIFE. (In Luke only).
11. Nain--a small village not elsewhere mentioned in Scripture, and only this once probably visited by our Lord; it lay a little to the south of Mount Tabor, about twelve miles from Capernaum.
12. carried out--"was being carried out." Dead bodies, being ceremonially unclean, were not allowed to be buried within the cities (though the kings of David's house were buried m the city of David), and the funeral was usually on the same day as the death.
only son, &c.--affecting particulars, told with delightful simplicity.
13. the Lord--"This sublime appellation is more usual with Luke and John than Matthew; Mark holds the mean" [BENGEL].
saw her, he had compassion, &c.--What consolation to thousands of the bereaved has this single verse carried from age to age!
14, 15. What mingled majesty and grace shines in this scene! The Resurrection and the Life in human flesh, with a word of command, bringing back life to the dead body; Incarnate Compassion summoning its absolute power to dry a widow's tears!
16. visited his people--more than bringing back the days of Elijah and Elisha ( 1 Kings 17:17-24 , 2 Kings 4:32-37 ; and see Matthew 15:31 ).
Luke 7:18-35 . THE BAPTIST'S MESSAGE THE REPLY, AND CONSEQUENT DISCOURSE.
29, 30. And all the people that heard--"on hearing (this)." These are the observations of the Evangelist, not of our Lord.
and the publicans--a striking clause.
justified God, being baptized, &c.--rather, "having been baptized." The meaning is, They acknowledged the divine wisdom of such a preparatory ministry as John's, in leading them to Him who now spake to them (see Luke 1:16 Luke 1:17 ); whereas the Pharisees and lawyers, true to themselves in refusing the baptism of John, set at naught also the merciful design of God in the Saviour Himself, to their own destruction.
31-35. the Lord said, &c.--As cross, capricious children, invited by their playmates to join them in their amusements, will play with them neither at weddings nor funerals (juvenile imitations of the joyous and mournful scenes of life), so that generation rejected both John and his Master: the one because he was too unsocial--more like a demoniac than a rational man; the other, because He was too much the reverse, given to animal indulgences, and consorting with the lowest classes of society. But the children of Wisdom recognize and honor her, whether in the austere garb of the Baptist or in the more attractive style of his Master, whether in the Law or in the Gospel, whether in rags or in royalty, for "the full soul loatheth an honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet" ( Proverbs 27:7 ).
Luke 7:36-50 . CHRIST'S FEET WASHED WITH TEARS.
37, 38. a sinner--one who had led a profligate life. Note.--There is no ground whatever for the popular notion that this woman was Mary Magdalene, nor do we know what her name was.
an alabaster box of ointment--a perfume vessel, in some cases very costly ( John 12:5 ). "The ointment has here a peculiar interest, as the offering by a penitent of what had been an accessory in her unhallowed work of sin" [ALFORD].
38. at his feet behind him--the posture at meals being a reclining one, with the feet out behind.
began to wash, &c.--to "water with a shower." The tears, which were quite involuntary, poured down in a flood upon His naked feet, as she bent down to kiss them; and deeming them rather fouled than washed by this, she hastened to wipe them off with the only towel she had, the long tresses of her own hair, "with which slaves were wont to wash their masters' feet" [STIER].
kissed--The word signifies "to kiss fondly, to caress," or to "kiss again and again," which Luke 7:45 shows is meant here. What prompted this? Much love, springing from a sense of much forgiveness. So says He who knew her heart ( Luke 7:47 ). Where she had met with Christ before, or what words of His had brought life to her dead heart and a sense of divine pardon to her guilty soul, we know not. But probably she was of the crowd of "publicans and sinners" whom Incarnate Compassion drew so often around Him, and heard from His lips some of those words such as never man spake, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour," &c. No personal interview had up to this time taken place between them; but she could keep her feelings no longer to herself, and having found her way to Him (and entered along with him, Luke 7:45 ), they burst forth in this surpassing yet most artless style, as if her whole soul would go out to Him.
39. the Pharisee--who had formed no definite opinion of our Lord, and invited Him apparently to obtain materials for a judgment.
spake within himself, &c.--"Ha! I have Him now; He plainly knows nothing of the person He allows to touch Him; and so, He can be no prophet." Not so fast, Simon; thou hast not seen through thy Guest yet, but He hath seen through thee.
40-43. Like Nathan with David, our Lord conceals His home thrust under the veil of a parable, and makes His host himself pronounce upon the case. The two debtors are the woman and Simon; the criminality of the one was ten times that of the other (in the proportion of "five hundred" to "fifty"); but both being equally insolvent, both are with equal frankness forgiven; and Simon is made to own that the greatest debtor to forgiving mercy will cling to her Divine Benefactor with the deepest gratitude. Does our Lord then admit that Simon was a forgiving man? Let us see.
44-47. I entered . . . no water--a compliment to guests. Was this "much love?" Was it any?
45. no kiss--of salutation. How much love was here? Any at all?
46. with oil . . . not anoint--even common olive oil in contrast with the woman's "ointment" or aromatic balsam. What evidence was thus afforded of any feeling which forgiveness prompts? Our Lord speaks this with delicate politeness, as if hurt at these inattentions of His host, which though not invariably shown to guests, were the customary marks of studied respect and regard. The inference is plain--only one of the debtors was really forgiven, though in the first instance, to give room for the play of withheld feelings, the forgiveness of both is supposed in the parable.
47. Her sins which are many--"Those many sins of hers," our Lord, who admitted how much more she owed than the Pharisee, now proclaims in naked terms the forgiveness of her guilt.
for--not because, as if love were the cause of forgiveness, but "inasmuch as," or "in proof of which." The latter clause of the verse, and the whole structure of the parable, plainly show this to be the meaning.
little forgiven . . . loveth little--delicately ironical intimation of no love and no forgiveness in the present case.
48. said unto her, &c.--an unsought assurance, usually springing up unexpected in the midst of active duty and warm affections, while often it flies from those who mope and are paralyzed for want of it.
49, 50. they that sat . . . Who is this, &c.--No wonder they were startled to hear One who was reclining at the same couch, and partaking of the same hospitalities with themselves, assume the awful prerogative of "even forgiving sins." But so far from receding from this claim, or softening it down, our Lord only repeats it, with two precious additions: one, announcing what was the one secret of the "forgiveness" she had experienced, and which carried "salvation" in its bosom; the other, a glorious dismissal of her in that "peace" which she had already felt, but is now assured she has His full warrant to enjoy! This wonderful scene teaches two very weighty truths: (1) Though there be degrees of guilt, insolvency, or inability to wipe out the dishonor done to God, is common to all sinners. (2) As Christ is the Great Creditor to whom all debt, whether great or small, contracted by sinners is owing, so to Him belongs the prerogative of forgiving it. This latter truth is brought out in the structure and application of the present parable as it is nowhere else. Either then Jesus was a blaspheming deceiver, or He is God manifest in the flesh.