At the beginning of today’s reading Jesus heads to Capernaum, a city on the Sea of Galilee, where He is confronted by a group of elders of the Jews. These elders have been sent by a Roman centurion, who hopes that Jesus will heal his servant. Their request is interesting on at least two fronts: first, that they deem the centurion “…worthy to have you do this for him for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue…” and second that they – elders of the Jews – recognized that the power of the Lord was with Him to heal.
This similarly occurs at the end of today’s reading, when Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue – begs Jesus to heal his daughter. Weren’t the Jewish leaders opposed to Jesus? Well, some were. Others weren’t. Luke doesn’t draw clear lines on this, but instead recounts events and conversations as they happened.
Pay attention to the variety of responses to Jesus. Just today, synagogue rulers ask Jesus for help and the people of Nain report, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” Pharisees and lawyers oppose Jesus and the crowd’s assessment of Him, but one of them invites Jesus to dinner – only to judge Him for allowing a “sinner” to get too close. A group of women follows and even supports Jesus, while the Gerasenes, after witnessing that Jesus had driven demons out of a man, were seized with great fear. And finally, after raising Jairus’ (the synagogue ruler’s) daughter back to life, her parents were amazed.
And I want to highlight one more detail that is just as curious as people’s reactions. When the demon-possessed man wants to follow Jesus, Jesus permits him to “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” However, just one scene later, when Jesus raises Jairus’s daughter, “He charged [her parents] to tell no one what had happened.” So what gives? Why would Jesus tell one healed person to “Tell anyone you want,” and tell another healed person, “Don’t tell a soul”?
This contradiction is never ironed out. Does it matter that the demon-possessed man was in the region of the country of the Gerasenes – a foreign land – while Jairus’ daughter was in Galilee? Does it matter that Jairus was a synagogue official, while the demon-possessed man was an ordinary citizen? It’s hard to believe that Luke would not have noticed this. It’s even harder to believe that Jesus would be haphazard with His words. There is something more going on here, and it likely tells us something about Jesus, His purposes, and His mission.
Our verse for this week is Psalm 27:1: The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Luke chapters 7 and 8. Now let’s read it!
27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?