February 5, 2017 – Fifth Sunday After Epiphany
Luke 7:1-17 Raising the Widow’s Son
Power and Authority
How do we encounter Jesus? These passages show two very different encounters. In the first, the outsider (the centurion) actively seeks Jesus out on behalf of his slave/servant. You may hear echoes of the healing of Namaan in this passage. The centurion seeks Jesus out, asks for his help, and then acknowledges the power and the authority of Jesus, reconginizing that Jesus can do the healing from where he is, that he does not need to be physically present with the person to be who the Christ is and to do the work of Christ. Jesus is impressed by the faith of the centurion, to the extent that he says he has never seen faith like this in Israel.
Which leads us to our second story of the day. Jesus is just minding his own business, moving on to the next town, when he observes a funeral or a burial. It is the widow’s only son who is dead. Again, here you may hear echoes of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17). And here there is wailing, there is panic, there is uncertainty. How will the widow survive with her son gone? Has the community forgotten their responsibility to the widows? What can be done? Jesus raises the son from the dead, and the people are amazed.
Do we seek out the Christ, or does he just show up? Are we amazed, or do we have some grasp on the power of God in Jesus Christ? Is Christ expecting our faith or our lack of faith?
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