Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: The content of faith arises out of divine declarations.
Introduction: As we open our Bibles this morning to Luke 7:1-10 we find ourselves returning to what is typically called "theological narrative" as a way to distinguish the records of the actions of Jesus from the records of the content of His teaching. It is "theological" narrative in that Luke deliberately selected certain of Jesus' actions to create the picture of Jesus that he wanted to build in the minds of his readers. Because people relate to others on the basis of how they perceive them to be, there was nothing more important to Luke than to provide a perception of Jesus that was accurate so that his reader (Theophilus) could relate to Jesus in a way that is legitimate. This is fundamental "theology" -- a presentation of the true nature of our Great God and Savior.
In "theological narrative", there are two major issues. The first is the details of the record itself and what they bring to the table. The second is the reason that Luke decided to include the particular record as opposed to skipping it. John said (John 21:25) that Jesus did so many things that if they were all recorded, "even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written." So, Luke's is a selective narrative. It is our job to ask and answer two questions: What did Luke tell us, and why?
So, this morning we are going to begin to look into the record of the healing of the centurion's slave so that we may gain a better understanding of Jesus.
June 22, 2008
- I. The Text (7:1) As Introduction.
- A. On the weight of two of Jesus' statements, we take nothing for granted.
- 1. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus survived His contest with Satan because He believed that men should take every word of God as life-giving Truth.
- 2. In Matthew 5:18 Jesus said that every "jot" and "tittle" would last longer than the heaven and the earth.
- B. On the weight of the reasons for "introductions", we look for the "prejudice" that the words create in our minds as we consider the details of the record and their significance for our lives.
- 1. Introductions are designed to "introduce" so that the reader/hearer has a kind of "understanding form" into which to plug the following information.
- a. Without this "form" all kinds of meanings can be assigned to the information.
- b. The "form" creates a setting for proper understanding.
- 2. Introductions, by reason of their "setting", actually prejudice our minds to run in a certain direction.
- II. The Prejudices.
- A. Luke says first that Jesus "completed" what He had to say "in the hearing of the people."
- 1. He is referring to 6:20-49, a record which he himself had "edited" and "distilled".
- a. This reference is to the two major issues of "theological narrative".
- 1) Luke's record of Jesus' words causes us to understand a certain key reality concerning the Kingdom of God: it is compassion-driven.
- 2) Luke's record in its specific place causes us to understand that Jesus' words are His foundation for all of the "disciple-making" that is going to go on from this point forward.
- a) In 6:12-16 Luke told us that Jesus selected His "apostles" after a night of prayer on the mountain.
- b) In 24:44-48 he records that Jesus' intention was to prepare them to be "witnesses" of His message of "repentance unto forgiveness" to all the nations.
- b. This reference follows hard upon the heels of Jesus' final statements in which He made both "success" and absolute "ruin" dependent upon whether men allow His description of the Kingdom of God to dominate their own aspirations and pursuits.
- 2. He recorded Jesus as "completing" the laying of the foundation in terms of a verbal, spoken form.
- 3. He says that Jesus had laid out His "foundation" "in the hearing of the people."
- a. This means that this is Jesus' public "gauntlet".
- b. This means that, from this point, Jesus is going to move forward and men will either move with Him unto "success" or they will refuse unto "utter ruin".
- B. Luke says second that Jesus completed "all His sayings".
- 1. The NASB translators dropped the ball big time with their "His discourse".
- a. By their translation they completely blocked the impact of Luke's words.
- b. By their translation they allowed a perverse perception to continue unabated.
- 2. The words Luke chose are "all of His utterances".
- a. The concept of "utterances" is crucial in Luke's record.
- 1) Luke had deliberately built an "utterance" concept into his record prior to his reference to it at this point.
- a) Luke's "utterance" concept, as seen from the uses of this specific word in Luke 1-6, is this: an "utterance" is either a single, specific, statement or a very limited group of statements that have a single, specific, point to them. [Note Luke 1:37-38 and 2:29 as examples.]
- b) This means that Luke fully intended for his reader to take each of Jesus' foundational utterances for what they are: the individual parts of a multipart, interconnected, foundation that must be embraced by any who would be His disciple.
- 2) Luke had also deliberately tied his "utterance" concept to the issue of whether a person would embrace the utterance as a foundation for his choices and actions.
- a) This is seen in Mary's example in Luke 1:37-38 when she accepted the "utterance" as guiding truth.
- b) This is also seen, perhaps even more clearly, in Luke 5:5 where Simon is clearly not "expecting" anything, but is willing to act on the utterance anyway.
- 3) Luke clearly wanted Theophilus to understand that his relationship to success and utter ruin would be tied to the "utterances" of Jesus.
- b. Luke's concept of "utterances" is crucial for our understanding of just what it is that God insists of us.
- 1) Jesus made no bones about what the outcome would be for anyone who did not buy into His Kingdom scenario.
- 2) Nor did Jesus hedge on what the outcome would be for the one who cast all aside that would hinder the embracing of the "utterances".
- 3) But, at the bottom of the pile is this fact: no one embraces the "utterances" who does not "believe" them. [This brings us to the "third" prejudice.]
- C. Luke says third that Jesus entered into Capernaum.
- 1. This entrance into Capernaum "sets up" the record that follows.
- a. The record that follows is all about a faith "greater" than anything Jesus had witnessed from the Jews.
- b. The "logic" of the record in this place seems straightforward: no one is going to embrace Jesus' agenda who does not "believe" Him.
- 2. The reference to Capernaum is necessary.
- a. The record is about a non-Jewish military leader who was not among the "people" to whom Jesus spoke all the "utterances".
- b. This threatens Luke's entire "utterance/faith" thesis: How can the centurion be exercising the greatest faith Jesus has run into thus far without an "utterance" to go on?
- 1) Luke's "faith" thesis in this: the utterances of God form the content of faith for faith, not creative dreaming.
- 2) But his "centurion illustration" seems to contradict this.
- c. Thus, the reference to Capernaum in Luke's record as a reference to the earlier facts.
- 1) Luke 4:23 tells us that the somewhat ambiguous reference of 4:14-15 meant that Jesus had made Capernaum one of the central places for the demonstration of His identity according to both teaching and miracle, a fact that 4:31-37 clearly illustrates.
- 2) This means that the centurion had an "utterance" reality upon which to act in the form of 4:40.
- III. The Point.
- A. As an introduction, Luke 7:1 sets us up with three prejudicial concepts: the idea that success or ruin is before us; the idea that all "success" begins with specific divine utterances that are to be accepted as the foundation for choices and actions; and the idea that the actions of Jesus are a form of divine utterance which can be believed.
- B. As an introduction, Luke 7:1 tells us that committing to Jesus' utterances in word and deed is a "make-it or break-it" issue.