We may be tempted to avoid Jesus so that we don’t have to face part of ourselves or our past. We fear Jesus will be put off by our sin and that he won’t have a place for us in his kingdom. But Jesus thinks we are still worth catching and calls us to know him better and join him in building his kingdom.
Jesus is amazed by the centurion’s faith. This Gentile recognizes Jesus’ power and authority while others see Jesus as merely a healer or rabbi. For Jesus’ help, no other “merits” are required, though the centurion, his servants and the Jewish elders—and maybe us—expect that to be the case.
Simon the Pharisee and the forgiven woman illustrate two different reactions to Jesus. Simon sees Jesus as a merely another teacher not even worthy of common courtesy. The woman on the other hand has a radical reaction to Jesus. She reacts with great sacrifice (pouring out the expensive perfume), and undignified affection (wiping his feet with her hair). The woman’s reaction flows out of her profound recognition of Jesus forgiveness of her great debt. Simon’s reaction comes from the fact that he does not believe he needs much forgiveness (i.e. he believes his debt is small). One of the greatest inhibitors to being transformed by God is the lack of recognition of your own sinfulness.
Everyone has a different attitude toward wealth than Jesus does. Encountering Jesus around this topic is confusing for both the rich ruler and Jesus’ followers, but three things are clear:Wealth is generally a hindrance to spiritualityGod can wean a heart from this seductive idolReal treasure awaits those who abandon idols and follow Jesus.Jesus’ command to leave all behind and follow him is always coupled with his promise of expanded community now and eternal life in the future.
Following Jesus entails radical, costly obedience, including restitution when we do wrong. The greater the changes and restitution required, the less likely conversion seems. But the “unlikeliness” of it is irrelevant to God; it is “possible with God.” When those who have hurt us turn to the Lord, part of our costly obedience is being ready to forgive and accept.
Jesus’ death on the cross was more than just his own execution; it was also God’s means of our own salvation. Jesus went to the site of his execution out of love for us. An important sub-story of Jesus’ passion was his conversation with the two common thieves crucified next
In this story, a heavenly visitor comes to Mary and proclaims that she will miraculously bear a child, and that he will be great. Let’s see what greatness is for Jesus as we delve into this famous passage.