dscn6879It’s easy to see, in the stories presented in our texts this week, the miraculous nature of Jesus and not go any further. But I believe our text invites, indeed demands that we look beyond the miracles to see the message – a message of faith, a message of reconciliation, a message of restoration, a message of hope.

Already, Luke is beginning to present the notion of the gospel going beyond the Jewish nation to the rest of the world. The centurion, part of the occupying forces, is noted for his faith in the ability of Jesus to make a difference. The man raised to life is restored to his widowed mother and she, in turn finds a place in a culture that oppresses those of her status.

So, it’s not so much about the miraculous life giving transformations, as the justice of God enacted in every day life – for those in power and for the lowly.

It’s not so much about what Jesus does as about how he calls us to live – in faith, inclusively, caring for the least of these.

How will you relate these stories to the chaos in our world today? Where will you find faith, reconciliation, restoration and hope. What images will you hold up to encourage others to see beyond the story?

  • Pictures and stories of protest against corrupt administration
  • Signs and actions welcoming the marginalised and those discriminated against
  • Exhausted aid workers in their tireless compassion
  • Religions standing and working together through terrorism and loss

How will you preach, how will you live out faith that knows no bounds where you are this week? Please share, in the comments, your thoughts and reflections and the direction you are heading with the text this week.

Working Preacher commentary is here.

Liz Crumlish is a Church of Scotland Minister currently working on a National Renewal Project in Scotland.  A Board Member of RevGalBlogPals, instigator of Spill the Beans and contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, Liz blogs at journalling


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6 thoughts on “Narrative Lectionary: Beyond miracles

  1. I am having serious issues with the first 10 verses of chapter 7. I mean…an enslaved person is sick, and his owner–who is a leader of an occupying army oppressing people–values him *as a slave* so he sends for Jews who can run an errand for him, asking Jesus to heal him. And then the reasoning of the elders is “we owe the centurion a favor, you should do this for him.” Not for the slave who is sick, of course…but for the Roman man who owns him. And when Jesus approaches the Roman sends friends (doesn’t come out himself) to explain that he’s used to being obeyed, so he thinks Jesus should also expect to be obeyed…
    and somehow that’s held up as a model of faith.

    I have so much trouble with this story…..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. me too – but for me, the detail is not the point or focus of the tale. This is a story for telling not reading. The general drift is that Jesus doesn’t respond to the brown-nosing of the Jews but to the faith of the centurion… who has no qualms about Jesus being able to do what needs to be done. The healing cures someone whose life is valued (in more ways than one – and yes, that includes by the centurion) and speaks volumes of the kind of faith that trusts implicitly the words (small ‘w’) that come from Jesus’ lips.
    it does though need to be tied in with the other story of the pericope….where a man is raised from death – to face death again (it happens to us all)… Both miracles are temporary answers that point to a greater truth.
    The healing of the servant points to the complete authority of God so un-authoratively practiced…. and the raising of the son, points to the concern of God for the very practical concerns of each of us…. including those of both the servant and the widow

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am thinking about this from the standpoint of the inclusivity of Jesus’ ministry. One of the messages of Luke, as I understand it is that he came for more than the Jews – for those in positions of power (even occupying power) to those absolutely marginalized by society. From Gentiles to Jews. From those with mixed motives to those with no hope at all. AT least that’s where I am going, I think.


  4. I am trying to think of it from that angle, but I am continually hung up on the slave situation. The slave is healed because the centurion is worthy. The centurion asks for that healing because the slave is “valuable” _to him_, not just as a person but rather as unpaid labor.

    I know that 1st century slavery and 18th century transatlantic chattel slavery are not the same thing. but I sort of feel like in some ways the way we treat them are the same in the sense that we gloss over it because it’s not the point of the story…or we change it to say “servant” instead because that feels easier to us. But at the center of the story is a person, who is owned by another person. And no one is talking about him except as property. All the worthiness, faith, and agency is in the powerful man. Even the request is “the owner is worthy of having his slave healed.”

    I will probably eventually get to the “with a word” good news. But on the way there I want to wonder how come that word was not a word of freedom for the slave, or a word of challenge for the slave-owner.


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