Luke 7

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Luke 7:4-8 he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue

The student is hard pressed to find any group in history that were more ethno-centric than the Jews of Jesus' day. They considered themselves the greatest nation on earth. Meanwhile, the surrounding Gentiles were considered unequivocally inferior and were exempt from the blessings of the kingdom. This notion was so commonplace that when the centurion appealed for help from the elders of the Jews, they felt obligated to recommend this Gentile unto Jesus. Their response was telling. "He loves our nation and he built us a synagogue. See what a good guy he is. Don't you think he is worthy of a blessing?"

But Jesus is not so impressed with patriots and synagogue builders, nor does he favor the Jews over the Gentiles. What impresses the Savior is faith and humility. In this regard, the centurion was even more impressive. No healing had yet been performed without direct contact between Jesus and the afflicted. There was no precedent for Jesus to perform a long-distance miracle! That didn't matter to the centurion. What mattered to him was that he did not feel worthy to have Jesus in his home. Ironically his faith and humility made him more worthy than those Jews who surrounded him, and his request was granted.

Luke 7:9 I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel

"Jesus chose this ideal occasion to show that his kingdom was not confined to any one race, but his power unto salvation was for the righteous and faithful of all nations. He demonstrated that his power extended to the Gentiles, and he warned that without faith and righteousness, even the Jews would lose their blessings: 'Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matt. 8:11-12.)" (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 218.)

Luke 7:13 he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not

Vaughn J. Featherstone

"The widowed mother was grief stricken. The large crowd that attended the funeral procession was probably an indication of the sympathy which the people of the city felt for this widow's loss of her only son. I imagine that, as she followed those carrying the bier, she walked with her head bowed, suffering a grief that was beyond description.

"The Master approached her and 'had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.' She must have looked up to see who thus addressed her. I can visualize her swollen, tired eyes looking into his, and the words she had heard seeming to be spoken by one who truly did care and who could feel every bit of her suffering. This brief confrontation with the widow and what transpired as he looked into her soul and said, 'Weep not,' can only be imagined. Then 'he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered the boy to his mother.' (Luke 7:11-17.)

"I think as Jesus performed this miracle his heart must have been full, for he knew in an incomprehensible way the joy that would come to the widowed mother in the next few moments. Had we been there, we probably would have seen him shed tears of love. I wonder if he didn't stand there for just a moment or two, feeling, as none of us can, the overflowing joy of a widow's heart as she clung fiercely to her son.

"I love Jesus for his love. I love him for his gentleness, his mercy, his forgiving heart. I love him for his long-suffering, for his absolute purity and his charity. I love him as my Savior and Redeemer, the great I Am, the King of kings. And I worship him because he is literally the Son of God." (Commitment [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 99)

Thomas S. Monson

"[Speaking of this miracle] What power, what tenderness, what compassion did our Master thus demonstrate! We, too, can bless if we but follow His noble example. Opportunities are everywhere. Needed are eyes to see the pitiable plight and ears to hear the silent pleadings of a broken heart. Yes, and a soul filled with compassion, that we might communicate not only eye to eye or voice to ear, but, in the majestic style of the Savior, even heart to heart.'" (Courage in Meeting Life's Challenges , LDS Church News, 1993, 10/09/93)

Luke 7:14 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother

Bruce R. McConkie

"And is not this first known instance of calling mortals from death to life by Jesus but a type and a shadow-a heaven-sent similitude-of what this same Jesus shall do for all his people at an appointed time? Will he not say to all, 'Come forth from your graves; step out of your tombs; arise from your biers. Live again-this time in glorious immortality, never to suffer the pangs of death again'? And will he not then deliver the righteous into the arms of their mothers and fathers and loved ones?

"As the marvel of what had this day happened in Nain dawned upon the throngs in whose presence the miracle was wrought, is it any wonder, as Luke recounts, that 'there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.'" (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 186.)

Luke 7:19 John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus saying, Art thou he that should come?

"Many Bible commentators have thought that John himself was wavering while in prison, wondering and even doubting whether Jesus was the Messiah, and therefore had sent these two disciples to enquire. That is not likely, however, since John knew by revelation who Jesus was." (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 49.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"Why did John send two of his disciples to Jesus to ask if he were the promised Messiah? Any inference that the Baptist was uncertain or doubtful in his own mind, as to the identity and mission of the Master, is totally unwarranted. In reality, the imprisoned Elias and forerunner of our Lord was using this means to persuade his disciples to forsake him and follow Jesus.

"John knew who Jesus was; the Baptist was not wavering as a reed in the wind. While in Herod's prison, angels sent by Jesus had ministered comfort and assurance to (John 5:1, Matt. 4:11), and immediately after John's disciples left to report back to the Baptist, the Lord was to speak eloquently of the integrity and stability of the one who had baptized him. This act of sending his disciples to Jesus was in effect a final great testimony on John's part that Jesus was the Lamb of God, for the Baptist knew that his disciples, seeing the Master personally and hearing his teachings, could not help but follow the greater light." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 261.)

Luke 7:22 Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard

Harold B. Lee

"[ adapted from a talk given by President Lee in general conference in October 1954 following a tour of the Far East.] When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus, after he had received reports about the work of the Master, they came asking him, 'Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?' Jesus told them to carry back to John the Baptist this answer: 'Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.' (Luke 7:20, 22.)

"Today I testify, as the Master told the disciples to testify to John, that the miraculous power of divine intervention is among us, which is one of the signs of the divinity of the work of the Lord.

"In recent weeks we have seen one 'nigh unto death' raised miraculously; we have seen the hand of the Almighty stay the storms and the winds; and we have overcome obstacles that might have made impossible the fulfillment of our mission. We have passed through danger-ridden areas only a few hundred miles from where war is brewing [in Korea]. We have seen the humble and the poor having the gospel preached to them. The signs of divinity are found in many areas of the world. The work of the Almighty is increasing with a tremendous surge." (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], chap. 18)

Luke 7:22 Go your way, and tell John...[that] to the poor the gospel is preached

Elder Alma Sonne

"Jesus lived with the poor. He appeared as one of them. He cast his lot with the lowly and dejected classes of society. You will recall when John the Baptist sent his disciples to be reassured, Jesus said, 'Tell John the poor have the gospel preached to them.' (See Luke 7:22.) Can you think of any leader aspiring to greatness and recognition who ever thought of beginning with the poor? Please remember that the higher circles were open to him, but he never deserted the meek and the humble. He remained their friend. Was not this a manifestation of his great love?" (Conference Report, October 1963, Second Day-Morning Meeting 54.)

Luke 7:23 blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me

Neal A. Maxwell

"Meekness can also help us in coping with the injustices of life-of which there are quite a few...Furthermore, not only are the meek less easily offended, but they are less likely to give offense to others. In contrast, there are some in life who seem, perpetually, to be waiting to be offended. Their pride covers them like boils which will inevitably be bumped." ("Meekness-A Dimension of True Discipleship," Ensign, Mar. 1983, 70)

Neal A. Maxwell

"Jesus foresaw how and why He and His prophets would, in His mortal Messiahship, be rejected by so many. What He did, what He said, and what He was, offended many. The pattern is there, as well, with regard to the prophets sent by Jesus. The same meekness needed to accept Him is needed to accept His emissaries. Perhaps more is needed, the latter being good but imperfect. Without humbleness of mind, we are apt to reject those whom He has sent. There can be many excuses for rejecting the prophets. When meek enough, we know a prophet is a prophet." (Meek and Lowly, 103.)

Luke 7:28 there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist

"The Prophet Joseph Smith explained the meaning of Jesus' words:

"How is it that John was considered one of the greatest prophets? His miracles could not have constituted his greatness.

"First. He was entrusted with a divine mission of preparing the way before the face of the Lord. Whoever had such a trust committed to him before or since? No man.

"Secondly. He was entrusted with the important mission, and it was required at his hands, to baptize the Son of Man. Whoever had the honor of doing that? Whoever had so great a privilege and glory? Whoever led the Son of God into the waters of baptism, and had the privilege of beholding the Holy Ghost descend in the form of a dove, or rather in the sign of the dove, in witness of that administration? ...

"Thirdly. John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power. The Jews had to obey his instructions or be damned, by their own law; and Christ Himself fulfilled all righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to Moses on the mount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it. ... These three reasons constitute him the greatest prophet born of a woman." (Robert J. Matthews, " 'There Is Not a Greater Prophet': The Ministry of John the Baptist," Ensign, Jan. 1991, 16)

Spencer J. Condie

"The LDS Bible Dictionary informs us that John's 'ministry has operated in three dispensations: he was the last of the prophets under the law of Moses, he was the first of the New Testament prophets, and he brought the Aaronic Priesthood to the dispensation of the fulness of times' (p. 715)." (Your Agency, Handle with Care [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 137.)

Mark E. Petersen

"Since John had so nobly filled his mission and made available to Jesus this nucleus of believers whom he had converted for this very purpose, can anyone wonder that Jesus called John the greatest prophet born of woman? (See Luke 7:28.)

"What a calling it was to introduce the Son of God, the Savior of the world, as he began his ministry! And what an advantage it was to the Lord to have John turn over to Jesus a group of earnest believers in the midst of an unbelieving and hostile populace! With them he could begin to build his church, adding, of course, all who were converted by the Lord's own miracles and teachings.

"Joseph Smith was the modern counterpart of John the Baptist. He too was a preparer of the way. He too identified to a doubting world Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah of the Jews, the Savior of the Christians. And he likewise provided believers-now increased into the millions-willing to receive their Lord at his coming.

"As John's followers looked forward to their coming Messiah as preached by the Baptist, so the followers of Joseph Smith today look toward the glorious second coming of the Master.

"Joseph's testimony of Jesus was like that of John. Each saw the Lord face to face and talked with him as one man speaketh to another. John saw him in mortality; Joseph saw him in resurrected form. But both saw him and knew him and testified of him." (The Great Prologue [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1975], 101-102.)

Luke 7:28 but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he

Joseph Smith

"Whom did Jesus have reference to as being the least? Jesus was looked upon as having the least claim in God's kingdom, and [seemingly] was least entitled to their credulity as a prophet; as though He had said-'He that is considered the least among you is greater than John-that is I myself.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 276.)

Luke 7:30 the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him

Matthias F. Cowley

"From this it is manifested that by receiving baptism they honored and obeyed God, and that the rejection of this simple yet divine institution amounted to rejecting the counsel of God, with all the terrible consequences attendant upon such disobedience." (Cowley's Talks on Doctrine [Chattanooga: Ben. E. Rich, 1902], 105.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"What answer will the unbaptized give in the day of judgment when the great Judge asks: 'Why did you reject the counsel of God, being not baptized? Why did you break my commandment to be baptized in my name?' If we are not baptized, we are not his." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 245.)

Luke 7:31-32 Whereunto shall I liken the men of this generation?...They are like unto children

We might use a latter-day example of these 'children in the marketplace.' Any mother knows that young children don't know what they really want. A toddler asks for ice cream, but when he is given vanilla, he whines, "I wanted chocolate." If he is given chocolate first, he complains saying, "I wanted vanilla." The mother's conclusion is that the child has no idea what he really wants. So it was with the fickle Pharisees. John came to them as an austere prophet, from the wilderness, in camel's hair, eating locusts and honey, preaching baptism but performing no miracle. But he was rejected. Some accused him of having a devil, and the Pharisees would not be 'baptized of him' (v. 30). Jesus, on the other hand, came to them from Galilee, wearing typical clothing, eating and drinking, and performing irrefutable miracles. But the Pharisees didn't want this kind of prophet either. They called him a winebibber, a gluttonous man, and a devil. Like the exasperated mother who wonders what her child really wants, the Savior must have contemplated what kind of prophet the Pharisees and lawyers would accept. The answer is none, for they were like their fathers:

'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
¶ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.' (Matt. 23:27-35)

Luke 7:37-38 a woman...began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them

As we read the account of this unnamed woman, we realize that she must have met Jesus on a previous occasion. John said that there were 'many other things which Jesus did' which could not be written (Jn. 21:25). As to their first unrecorded meeting, we are not told, but we can construct a possible scenario:

Jesus is teaching the Galilean multitudes. This woman listens attentively to the gospel message. Moved by an overwhelming sense of contrition and feeling pangs of guilt from previous sin, she approaches the Savior after his discourse. She confesses her sins to him and asks, "Master, what must I do to become clean from these my many sins?" His reply, "Dear woman, you must believe in me, repent of your sins, and be baptized. Then all of your sins-every one-can be washed clean." His reply seemed too simple to be true, but she did as she was commanded. To her amazement, the feelings of inadequacy faded; she could remember her pains no more; yea, she was harrowed up by the memory of her sins no more. Finally, her soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was her pain (see Alma 36:19-20). With a powerful surge of gratitude, she sought out her Redeemer to thank him for his goodness and mercy. Unlike any around her, she understood that Jesus of Nazareth was her personal Savior-that he had redeemed her from the bonds of iniquity. We imagine these were her thoughts as she kissed his feet and bathed them with her tears.

Bruce R. McConkie

"All of the usual amenities of the day had been ignored by the day's host, as Jesus will soon remind him...what the host should have done...[this woman] had now done with a full heart and in a spirit of penitence and thanksgiving. Why did she do it?...She first washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, then anointed them with oil. Why? And was all this done by an evil sinner? No!-not by any means. All this was the work and worship of a devout and faithful woman who had been a sinner but who was now cleansed; who was now free from the crushing burden of many offenses; who now walked in a newness of life because of him whose feet she now kissed and upon whom she now bestowed all the reverent and awe-inspired love that her whole soul had power to possess.

"This we must know if we are to envision what really transpired on this inspiring occasion in the home of Simon the Pharisee. Here is a woman who once was a sinner but now is clean. Jesus is not going to forgive her sins-he has already done so; it happened when she believed and was baptized in his name; it happened when she repented with full purpose of heart and pledged her life and every breath she thereafter drew to the Cause of Righteousness. We are dealing with a convert who has come to pour out, in the spirit of thanksgiving and rejoicing, the gratitude of her soul to him who has freed her...from the chains of bondage and hell." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 200.)

Luke 7:42 when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both

Some misguided Mormons think that somehow their righteous works pay the debt for past sins. As if the Lord measures men in a balance by weighing their sins on one side and their righteous deeds on the other, they think that they will be saved if they have more good works than bad. Such an attitude denies the power of the atonement and misunderstands the role of the Redeemer. This parable makes it clear that the atonement is in force 'when they had nothing to pay.' There was nothing left, nothing they could do, no way to make full recompense. They had been weighed in the balance and found wanting (see Dan. 5:27). A debt had been incurred yet there was no way to meet the demands of justice. This is when the power of the Atonement applies. This is when the Lord frankly forgives the debtors. 'And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence...therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also' (Alma 42:14-15).

"...we all want something desperately...We want the kingdom of God. We want to go home to our heavenly parents worthy and clean. But the horrible price-perfect performance-is hopelessly beyond our means. At some point in our spiritual progress, we realize what the full price of admission into that kingdom is, and we also realize that we cannot pay it. And then we despair...

"But only at this point, when we finally realize our inability to perfect and save ourselves, when we finally realize our truly desperate situation here in mortality and our need to be saved from it by some outside intervention-only then can we fully appreciate the One who comes to save." (Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 32-33.)

Luke 7:42 which of them will love him most?

Marion G. Romney

"To the Lord Jesus, who bought us with a great price, we owe an undying debt of gratitude. It is impossible for us, weak mortals as we are, to fully comprehend and appreciate the suffering he endured on the cross so that he might gain for us victory over death. And even less can we understand the suffering he endured in Gethsemane so that we might obtain forgiveness of our sins. 'Which suffering,' he said, 'caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.' (D&C 19:18.)

"But nevertheless, he endured it for our sake. None of us could have endured that suffering. No mortal man nor any number of men together could have endured it. All people who understand what Jesus did for us ought to love him and demonstrate that love by rendering to him, in a realistic manner, thanks and gratitude.

"Elder Richard L. Evans once said, 'Gratefully we acknowledge the infinite mind of our Maker, and gratefully ought to offer our tithes and offerings, and earnestly consistent service, in thanks for all that God has given, and keep his commandments in remembrance of the love and providence and purpose of the Creator, the God and Father of us all, the organizer and operator of heaven and earth, without whom all these things would not be so. Thank God for all this: for life and what sustains it, for loved ones that make it meaningful, for faith and purpose and continuance, always and forever. Thank God for all of this-and much, much more." ("Thanks: for the Organization and Operation of the Earth," Improvement Era, Feb. 1968, p. 74; KSL "The Spoken Word" broadcast, Nov. 19, 1967.)" ("Gratitude and Thanksgiving," Ensign, Nov. 1982, 51)

Luke 7:48 Thy sins are forgiven...Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Spencer J. Condie

"The mission president had driven a considerable distance to interview a married couple who were contemplating baptism. They had previously been involved in a very serious transgression which came to light during the district leader's interview, and he felt inclined to invite the mission president to also interview the couple involved. He would determine if, after having learned of the restored gospel, they understood the seriousness of the transgression and had truly repented.

"After listening to their account of a decision which they had made hastily and had painfully regretted ever since, the mission president felt inclined to approve their baptism. They knew they had committed a grievous sin, and now, after having acquired additional light and knowledge, their hearts were truly broken and their spirits contrite. In fact, the president was concerned that the couple in question seemed unwilling to accept the fact that they could ever be forgiven, even after their baptism. The truths of the plan of salvation which they had recently learned caused great anxiety and guilt, rather than filling their hearts with hope and joy. It seemed to the mission president that, even though they might be forgiven of the Lord, they could not forgive themselves.

"Together they began to read in the Gospel of Luke the account of the Savior's visit to the house of Simon, one of the Pharisees...After a long pause to contemplate the message they had read together, the mission president looked into the tear-stained faces of the guilt-ridden baptismal candidates. 'I have driven all the way from the mission home some distance from here, just to reassure you that your Heavenly Father loves you, and that His Only Begotten Son suffered for your sins if you will but repent and be baptized and continue to keep His commandments.'

"The tears were dried, and a few days later this fine couple was baptized. They had brought forth the fruits of repentance, a contrite spirit and a broken heart, and they were beginning to experience a mighty change of heart which would help them escape from the self-inflicted bondage and pain which they had experienced for the past four years. Had mercy robbed justice? Shouldn't they have to suffer longer for their sins?

"The Savior himself declared: 'For behold, I God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit' (D&C 19:16-18).

"'Being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice' (Mosiah 15:9Mosiah 15:9), the Savior, through His atoning sacrifice, brought the scales of justice back into balance for the children of men upon condition of their sincere and complete repentance. The Savior's promise is very explicit. He suffered, 'that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I.'" (In Perfect Balance [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 35-37)