The following is a transcript of a Raised Catholic podcast episode. To listen to the episode, click here.
Today is episode 111: Jesus of the Gospels (Luke 7)
Hi friends. Last week, I gave the beginning of a reflection on Luke Chapter 7 with the first two stories from the chapter, and I promised that this week I’d finish up that little mini-study. Well, as I look at it, the remaining chapter is a bit too long for me to read to you here, but thankfully you can find Luke 7:18-50 literally on your phone at the end of a quick google search and I’ll link it in the show notes for you as well. I’d encourage you to read and sit with this rich chapter on your own for sure, because my whole goal here is to empower you to look at scripture on your own as a means of study and communication with a living God, and I’ll share the entirety of my own reflection too, and also give you a bit of an update on where the podcast is heading in the next stretch of time.
First, the update.
Well, if you haven’t yet heard, I have a brand-new website! At kerrycampbell.org, you’ll find all of my podcasts and writing in one spot, and this is a great place for us to keep in touch. When you go to check out kerrycampbell.org, I would ask you to please subscribe, and also, to share the website with your friends. I’m working on a short newsletter that I’ll send out via email at the end of each month, and I’d love for you and your friends to receive that and for our community to grow through that monthly Good News.
I also wanted to let you know that I’ll be taking a bit of a break from the podcast during Lent in order to pray and recharge, so that would be a great time for you to catch up with older episodes that you may have missed. Find those along with some short reflections I’ll be writing during that season over at my website. Again, thanks very much for checking that out, subscribing, and sharing. All of that means so much to me, so thanks.
Okay so last week in the first two stories of Luke 7, we got a great example of what faith looks like from the Roman centurion, and we learned how much our faith affects the heart of God. Then, in the raising of a young man from the dead, we saw the compassion of Jesus and how He sees and comes to us in our need in real, practical, and even nature-defying ways.
The last part of the chapter has John the Baptist asking from prison whether Jesus really is the One who is to come, and Jesus answers, not with anger or frustration at John’s questioning, but with examples of the fruit of His ministry. He says, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
I love this because here is the compassion of Jesus once again in full color. I believe the way He responded to John’s question is the way God receives our questioning too – Knowing we don’t have the whole picture as He does, the Spirit gently guides us to remember the ways in which we have seen Him act in our own lives, and the fruit of what He has done in our world. God doesn’t judge us in our doubt or wondering. He knows we’re only human and so He helps us where we are, as we are, to know for ourselves what is true.
In fact, more than just not judging John, Jesus praises him as the greatest human who’s ever been born. He says, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
And the response of the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees, and the experts in the law here is so telling: they are not fans. These leaders haven’t received John’s baptism and so, maybe they’re embarrassed or afraid that they’ve made a mistake, and so they cover those hard feelings with self-righteousness. Does that sound familiar in our culture, friend? These leaders back into an argument meant to keep their pride intact, rejecting Jesus only because Jesus praised John and they are not on John’s team. Hmm. And I wonder, have you and I done that, friend? Have we allied ourselves with a tribal argument that we don’t even really agree with just so we don’t have to admit we were wrong sometime in the past? Well, Jesus has some stuff to say about this. He calls out the tribalism and the cognitive dissonance, saying,
“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
“‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.’
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
These finicky, faultfinding leaders wouldn’t think it through because their pride was more important to them than following God’s good purposes. Oh God, for those with ears to hear, let us hear.
Okay so, the last story in the chapter is one that we and the Church would do well to study in this time. A sinful woman comes to a Pharisee’s house where Jesus is eating dinner. She “stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” The Pharisee “said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.’” And Jesus replies to the man’s thought that, as far as we know, he never even said out loud. Jesus replies, “You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Well, here’s my takeaway. The host of the party is gatekeeping for Jesus. He’s deciding who is worthy and who is not, who’s in and who’s out, based on their actions or their reputation, none of which might be true. And our Church does this, too, right, particularly here in America. The rot of clericalism leads priests and ministers to believe that they are owners of the restaurant instead of the servers that they’re called to be. It’s not their business to decide who sits at the table or how large the table should be, but only to serve. And there are so many stories like this woman’s story in the Gospels, too, right, where the lavish love and mercy of Jesus offend the religious leaders of the day: there’s the one where people who work only a portion of the day get full wages, then there’s the one where the prodigal son receives a party when he returns home, his father runningout to meet him. So many like this. And we grumbling humans don’t like it when people we perceive as ‘less than’ us receive the abundant mercy of God, but friend, God’s ways are not our ways. He is not really great at math, I guess, but when we try to limit the mercy of God or limit access to God, or put God in a box, we are doing real harm to the community but also, we’re really harming ourselves. By gatekeeping this woman, even in his own heart and thoughts, the owner of the house was preventing his own healing and restoration that could come from Jesus straight to him. And he was preventing the whole house from experiencing the diverse, beautiful range of brothers and sisters in God’s family from coming together. How much better our Church would be if we saw it as Pope Francis says, as a field hospital – all of us sick and in need of the life-giving, life-saving mercy that we can only find in God.
Okay friend, well that concludes my tiny Bible study of Luke, chapter 7, and I hope it has inspired you to dig into the Gospels a bit more on your own. There is such a wealth of insight there for us in every age, for every person, if we will just take the time to sit with God’s word and let it speak to us, where we are and as we are today. One thing I know is true: when we open the Gospels, we open a door to God, and that is always Good News.
Thanks so much for being with me today. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or on my new website at kerrycampbell.org. Thanks so much for rating, reviewing, subscribing and most importantly, sharing this podcast with a friend. That really makes a difference in growing our community, so thanks. If you’d like to support this podcast financially, there’s a way for you to do that in the show notes, along with some resources related to today’s episode, so do check all of that out, but before we go, let’s pray together.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God, help us to take in the truths that are available to us from Luke, chapter 7 for ourselves. Help us to know deeply how our faith touches your heart, how you see us in our need and bring us back to life, how you respect and answer our questioning, how honesty and humility are the doorway to receiving your life-changing mercy and peace – both for ourselves and for our church. Help us to internalize what is true about you from your Word so that we can walk with you in love. For us and for our dear ones we pray in the name of Jesus and wrapped in the mantle of our Mother Mary, amen.
Thanks for listening today, friend. Be well. I’ll see you next time.
This week we conclude our tiny Bible study of Luke, chapter 7. As I share my own takeaways from the chapter, I hope you’ll be encouraged to let God speak to you through a Gospel passage so that you can better know and walk with the compassionate, merciful, healing, proactive Jesus we meet there.
If you’d like to connect with me, find me on Instagram or at my website. If you’d like to help support this podcast financially, there’s now a way to do just that, and thank you – visit me on my page at buymeacoffee.com! Thanks as always for sharing, subscribing, rating, and reviewing, as this helps our community to grow!
Thanks as always to my friend, Peter Vaughan-Vail, for providing the beautiful harp music you hear in this and every episode.
Here are some resources I hope will help you to engage with this week’s topic in a deeper way for yourself: