The Healing of a Centurion’s Slave.a 1* When he had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum.* 2A centurion* there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. 4They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, 5for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” 6And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.* 7Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. 8For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Raising of the Widow’s Son.* 11b Soon afterward he journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. 12As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her.c 13When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” 15The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.d 16Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.”e 17This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.
The Messengers from John the Baptist.* 18f The disciples of John told him about all these things. John summoned two of his disciples 19and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”g 20When the men came to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” 21At that time he cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. 22And he said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.h 23And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”*
Jesus’ Testimony to John. 24* When the messengers of John had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.i “What did you go out to the desert to see—a reed swayed by the wind? 25Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. 26Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.j 27This is the one about whom scripture says:
28I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29l (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; 30but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
31* “Then to what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?m 32They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,
33For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ 34The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’n 35But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
The Pardon of the Sinful Woman.* 36o A Pharisee invited him to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.* 37Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.p Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,q 38she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. 39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” 40Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages* and the other owed fifty. 42Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” 43Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. 47So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.* But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”r 49The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”s 50But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
* [7:1–8:3] The episodes in this section present a series of reactions to the Galilean ministry of Jesus and reflect some of Luke’s particular interests: the faith of a Gentile (Lk 7:1–10); the prophet Jesus’ concern for a widowed mother (Lk 7:11–17); the ministry of Jesus directed to the afflicted and unfortunate of Is 61:1 (Lk 7:18–23); the relation between John and Jesus and their role in God’s plan for salvation (Lk 7:24–35); a forgiven sinner’s manifestation of love (Lk 7:36–50); the association of women with the ministry of Jesus (Lk 8:1–3).
* [7:1–10] This story about the faith of the centurion, a Gentile who cherishes the Jewish nation (Lk 7:5), prepares for the story in Acts of the conversion by Peter of the Roman centurion Cornelius who is similarly described as one who is generous to the Jewish nation (Acts 10:2). See also Acts 10:34–35 in the speech of Peter: “God shows no partiality…whoever fears him and acts righteously is acceptable to him.” See also notes on Mt 8:5–13 and Jn 4:43–54.
* [7:11–17] In the previous incident Jesus’ power was displayed for a Gentile whose servant was dying; in this episode it is displayed toward a widowed mother whose only son has already died. Jesus’ power over death prepares for his reply to John’s disciples in Lk 7:22: “the dead are raised.” This resuscitation in alluding to the prophet Elijah’s resurrection of the only son of a widow of Zarephath (1 Kgs 17:17–24) leads to the reaction of the crowd: “A great prophet has arisen in our midst” (Lk 7:16).
* [7:18–23] In answer to John’s question, Are you the one who is to come?—a probable reference to the return of the fiery prophet of reform, Elijah, “before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day” (Mal 3:23)—Jesus responds that his role is rather to bring the blessings spoken of in Is 61:1 to the oppressed and neglected of society (Lk 7:22; cf. Lk 4:18).
* [7:23] Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me: this beatitude is pronounced on the person who recognizes Jesus’ true identity in spite of previous expectations of what “the one who is to come” would be like.
* [7:24–30] In his testimony to John, Jesus reveals his understanding of the relationship between them: John is the precursor of Jesus (Lk 7:27); John is the messenger spoken of in Mal 3:1 who in Mal 3:23 is identified as Elijah. Taken with the previous episode, it can be seen that Jesus identifies John as precisely the person John envisioned Jesus to be: the Elijah who prepares the way for the coming of the day of the Lord.
* [7:36–50] In this story of the pardoning of the sinful woman Luke presents two different reactions to the ministry of Jesus. A Pharisee, suspecting Jesus to be a prophet, invites Jesus to a festive banquet in his house, but the Pharisee’s self-righteousness leads to little forgiveness by God and consequently little love shown toward Jesus. The sinful woman, on the other hand, manifests a faith in God (Lk 7:50) that has led her to seek forgiveness for her sins, and because so much was forgiven, she now overwhelms Jesus with her display of love; cf. the similar contrast in attitudes in Lk 18:9–14. The whole episode is a powerful lesson on the relation between forgiveness and love.
* [7:36] Reclined at table: the normal posture of guests at a banquet. Other oriental banquet customs alluded to in this story include the reception by the host with a kiss (Lk 7:45), washing the feet of the guests (Lk 7:44), and the anointing of the guests’ heads (Lk 7:46).
* [7:41] Days’ wages: one denarius is the normal daily wage of a laborer.
* [7:47] Her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love: literally, “her many sins have been forgiven, seeing that she has loved much.” That the woman’s sins have been forgiven is attested by the great love she shows toward Jesus. Her love is the consequence of her forgiveness. This is also the meaning demanded by the parable in Lk 7:41–43.