What does it say?
The paralyzed man brought by his friends to Jesus is the same as in Mark 2 and Luke 5. This story is clearly out of chronological order, because Matthew’s interest is to string together a series of powerful miracles and healings in Matthew 8-9 that affirm Jesus’ identity as the Messiah. When Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector to be his disciple, this immediately provokes the wrath of the religious establishment. Jesus defense is his mission revealed in scripture (9:11-13). Some disciples of John the Baptist come to Jesus with questions about fasting (9:14-17). Then once again the healings continue with the daughter of Jairus, two blind men and a demonized man that could not speak (9:18-34). Jesus continues his Galilean ministry and calls for his followers to pray for the harvest of souls (9:35-38).
Luke 7 records the healing of the centurion’s servant (1:10) and restoring life to a widow’s son (7:11-17), the only account of this particular healing in the Gospels. This chapter has John the Baptist doubting and sending messengers to Jesus. This is not the same event we saw in Matthew 9 with John’s disciples asking about fasting (7:18-35). The remainder of the chapter concerns a meal in the home of a Pharisee that is a setup to discredit Jesus. The plan is foiled as a prostitute lavishes love and gratitude upon him in response to having been forgiven (7:36-50)
What does it mean?
All four gospels emphasize the deity of Jesus as Messiah. Each Gospel writer has a specific audience in mind, but in each case the miracles, signs and healings confirm his identity and are not simply a collection of random miracles and good deeds. This is extremely important, because if Jesus is not God in human form, his coming death will have no power beyond an inspirational example, and his healings and miracles would have no significance beyond good deeds. Only as God in human form will Jesus’ death be a substitutionary sacrifice capable of satisfying the demands of righteousness upon sin.
Notice that Luke emphasizes Jesus’ ministry to social outcasts. Almost every account in Luke 7 concerns Jesus reaching out to people who are racially, socially and/or religiously outcast in the perspective of current Jewish religious leaders.
How will I respond?
Are there two or three events in my life that clearly demonstrate God’s supernatural power? If so, how might my story be an encouragement to others? Am I willing to share my story in appropriate ways and at appropriate times? Do I reach out to people who are outcasts? Why or why not? What can I learn from Jesus’ example?