This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on August 21, 2016.
This passage carries us into a synagogue where Jesus is teaching. By this point in Luke’s gospel narrative, Jesus’ reputation in the region was established. Jesus had performed several dramatic healings and exorcisms, fed the five thousand, and taught burgeoning crowds in cities and villages. Jesus stands and teaches, and those seeking healing have followed him.
The passage draws the audience into a moment when they are witnessing a dramatic act of compassion and healing. The gospel narratives most often portray those seeking healing as calling out and demanding Jesus’ attention. This, however, is a very different encounter. The nameless woman appears to have neither said nor done anything to draw Jesus’ attention. Jesus sees the woman, has compassion on her, and reaches out to her.
The woman had been bent and crippled, struggling in every move in every moment. Then, in a word her world is changed. Luke reports, “When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God” (v. 13). She was surrounded by her friends and community of faith. One would think everyone would rejoice with her, yet a voice of objection calls out.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 19, 2016.
What is your name? It’s a primary question that goes to the core of identity. We see it from the start, at the beginning of our sacred story in Genesis. God named the world into being, and then gave to humans the power to name. In contemporary times, we know the power of naming as well; on the internet, we make username decisions that reveal or conceal as much as we’d like. We can be anonymous, we can be pseudonymous, we can take on as many identities as we wish to.
The story of the Gerasene demoniac in Luke pushes us to reflect on questions of identity. Immediately preceding this story, Jesus calmed violent wind and raging waves with a word. His disciples ask, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25) Who is this, indeed? He masters the storm when the disciples cry out for help, he masters the demons when they cry out to be left alone.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 5, 2016.
Immediately following the healing of the Gentile centurion’s slave in Capernaum, Jesus is found in the village of Nain, just five miles from his hometown of Nazareth in Upper Galilee. This story takes Jesus’ healing ministry up a notch. Here he will heal a dead man, demonstrating that neither illness nor even death have power over his messianic ministry. The progression moves from teaching in the Sermon on the Plain to healing in Capernaum to resuscitation in Nain. And the latter anticipates Jesus’ own resurrection to come.
Nain is mentioned only here in the Bible. The widow is Jewish and the death of her only son indicates the end of the family line. This woman is now on her own. Her father and husband are gone, and now her son has died. This grief leaves her not only alone, but also vulnerable. She now will have no family to care for her and will have to depend upon the kindness of her neighbors, since such a woman would have lacked the capacity to provide for her own wellbeing.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 29, 2016.
Jesus has just concluded his Sermon on the Plain. Whereas Matthew’s Jesus has preached a Sermon on the Mount, emphasizing Jesus’ authority from on high, Luke characteristically has Jesus preaching from a “level place,” among the people. Luke’s Jesus will show his authority by what he does in history working from below, so to speak.
Now we see that authority operating in a healing story in nearby Capernaum. This town is ground zero of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, the home of Simon Peter and a crossroads of trade on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is met by a delegation of Jewish town elders who intercede on behalf a Roman military leader. This man is a centurion, likely working under Herod Antipas and commanding troops responsible for tax collecting and keeping order. We are also told that he is a worthy man. He has had unusually good relations with the local Jews and generously paid for the building of their synagogue. This establishes his credentials with the Jewish leaders.