Christmas to Calvary — December 7

A Centurion’s Slave Healed

After he had finished all his statements in the hearing of the people, he entered into Capernaum. Now a certain centurion’s slave, who was esteemed by him, was sick and was about to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent Jewish elders to him, asking him that he would come and cure his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they began imploring him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy that you grant this for him, because he loves our nation and he himself built the synagogue for us.” So Jesus went with them. Now by this time he was not far away from the house, and the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy that you should come in under my roof. For this reason neither did I consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word and my slave must be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, who has soldiers under me, and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another one, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

And when Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning around to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith!” And when they returned to the house, those who had been sent found the slave healthy.

A Widow’s Son Raised

And it happened that on the next day he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. And as he approached the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep!” And he came up and touched the bier, and those who were carrying it stopped. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and he gave him to his mother. And fear seized them all, and they began to glorify God, saying, “A great prophet has appeared among us!” and “God has visited to help his people!” And this report about him went out in the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region.

A Question from John the Baptist

And his disciples reported to John about all these things. And summoning a certain two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” And when the men came to him, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’” In that hour he healed many people of diseases and suffering and evil spirits, and he granted sight to many blind people. And he answered and said to them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear; the dead are raised, the poor have good news announced to them. And whoever is not offended by me is blessed.”

And when the messengers of John had departed, he began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are in splendid clothing and luxury are in the royal palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and even more than a prophet! It is this man about whom it is written:

‘Behold, I am sending my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

I tell you, there is no one greater among those born of women than John, but the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (And all the people, when they heard this—even the tax collectors—affirmed the righteousness of God, because they had been baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees and the legal experts rejected the purpose of God for themselves, because they had not been baptized by him.)

“To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to one another, who say,

‘We played the flute for you and you did not dance;
we sang a lament and you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist has come not eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a man who is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ And wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

A Sinful Woman Anoints Jesus’ Feet

Now one of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he entered into the house of the Pharisee and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman in the town who was a sinner, when she learned that he was dining in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of perfumed oil, and standing behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and was wiping them with the hair of her head and was kissing his feet and anointing them with the perfumed oil. Now when the Pharisee who invited him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he said, “Teacher, say it.” “There were two debtors who owed a certain creditor. One owed five hundred denarii and the other fifty. When they were not able to repay him, he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose that it is the one to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged correctly.” And turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered into your house. You did not give me water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but from the time I entered, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with olive oil, but she anointed my feet with perfumed oil. For this reason I tell you, her sins—which were many—have been forgiven, for she loved much. But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” And those who were reclining at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Questions for Reflection:

  • Many people have referred to Jesus as a good, moral teacher. What do you think people mean when they say that? What do you think would be the effect if people took that statement seriously?

  • Think about the culture around you. What cultural values do you think people cherish the most? How would you compare those values to the priorities and values of the Kingdom of God?

  • Why do you think the centurion’s faith amazed Jesus? Does faith amaze you?

  • The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears was known as a sinner. Her reputation preceded her. How can a bad reputation keep us from seeking Jesus? What does Jesus do about the reputations and sins of the worst sinners? How might that affect how we view our sins?

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