Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. This
lesson can be found at: <URL:>

INTRODUCTION: It is human nature to show special consideration to
those who are successful.  If I said, "I can make you close friends
with either the town physician or a welfare mother," which one
would you choose?  We gravitate towards monied, successful people
in the thought that they might aid us in some way.  We shy away
from people in need in the thought that they may want something of
ours.  A corruption of the old "A friend in need is a friend
indeed," is, "A friend in need is a pain in the neck!" Is this an
attitude that reflects God's attitude towards us? Let's see if this
is an attitude of ours that needs "healing."


     A. Turn with me to Luke 7:1-5. What do you know about a 
     centurion? (He was a Roman soldier.)

          1. What does the word "century" mean? (It means 100 
          years. A centurion was a non-commissioned officer who
          commanded about 100 men.  There were 6000 men in a Roman
          legion, and about 60 centurions.)

          2. What was the relationship between the Jews and the 
          Romans during the time of Jesus' life? (Barclay tells us
          in his book, The Gospel of Luke (p.85), that there was a
          mutual dislike between the  Jews and the Romans. Anti-
          semitism is not a new thing, the Romans called the Jews
          a "filthy race.")

     B. What do we learn about this particular centurion? (He cared
     about his slaves.  He was not only friendly to the Jews, Luke
     reports in v.5 the centurion "built our synagogue." He had
     Jews who were willing to "vouch" for him. This centurion and
     these Jewish elders had a much different relationship than the
     "normal" relationship between Jews and Romans.)

     C. Put yourself in Jesus' place. What argument do the Jews 
     make as to why Jesus should help this centurion? (v.4. The
     centurion deserves a healing.)

          1. If you are Jesus, is this persuasive? Does anyone 
          "deserve" to be healed? 

               a. Does a person deserve to be healed more than they
               deserve to be forgiven of sins?)

          2. What about the fact that the centurion does not 
          personally take the time to come to ask Jesus for help?
          If you were Jesus, how would you react to this?

               a. Does this show the centurion does not have 
               time to come personally?  He is too busy to "fool
               around" with Jesus?

               b. The SDA Bible Commentary (Vol 5, p.754) suggests
               that a Roman officer, such as this centurion, had
               the legal authority to summon Jesus to his house.
               What does this added insight into the local
               situation tell us about his centurion?

                    (1) Do you think Jesus weighed this factor 
                    (that He could be "subpoenaed" to appear
                    before the centurion) in His mind when He was
                    deciding whether this appeal to Him was

                    (2) Even if this man had the earthly power to
                    command Jesus, would that make any difference
                    to you if you were the Creator of the

(I am not sure the local Jewish leaders were doing the centurion
any good by saying he "deserved" a healing. However, Luke is not
painting a picture of a "high-handed" commander.  He could have
summoned Jesus to his home. Instead, he decided that he would try
to use respected Jewish leaders to try to persuade Jesus to help
him. This centurion had obviously thought out how to best approach
Jesus and decided that it would be best if a Roman officer did not
just show up and ask Jesus to do something.)

     D. Let's read on. Read vv. 6-8. Now we hear from the centurion
     more directly. This time he sends "friends" who carry his

          1. What do you think the centurion means when he says 
          (v.7) I do not deserve to have you come under my roof?"

               a. Didn't we previously read (v.4) that the Jewish
               elders said he "deserved" to have Jesus come to his
               house and heal the servant?

               b. Didn't we learn from the Bible Commentary that
               the centurion could have subpoenaed Jesus to come?

               c. So what is this centurion blabbering about not
               "deserving" a visit? (This shows us three things.
               First, the centurion clearly understood Jewish law
               which prohibited a Jew from visiting the house of a
               gentile. (Acts 10:28) Second, the centurion did not
               want to compromise Jesus by asking Him to come into
               his home and violate a Jewish "religious"
               principle. Third, the centurion shows true
               humility. If you have no power, no money and no
               status, how can anyone say you are humble? But a
               guy like the centurion, who has power and status,
               has the ability to choose humility -- and he did!)

     E. What do we now see about the centurion's failure to make a
     personal visit to Jesus? Was he just too busy? (In v.7 he says
     he is not "worthy" to make a personal visit.)

     F. Various generations have various slang terms to describe
     what the centurion is doing here. Today's youth would say he
     was "sucking up" to Jesus. Yesterday's youth would say he was
     "blue-nosing" Jesus. Isn't he trying to manipulate Jesus by
     flattery? (Jesus wants us to consider Him to be our brother.
     But sometimes I think we get caught in the "mush" of thinking
     that He is our equal, with the result that we lose sight of
     the fact that He is our King and our Judge. The Jewish leaders
     rejected His words because they thought He was their inferior.
     A healthy respect for "who Jesus is," encourages an attitude
     of obedience. My Bible study group is reading 1 Samuel. As we
     read 1 Samuel 13 I was impressed that Saul lost his dynasty (1
     Samuel 13:13-14) over what (I am sure) he thought was a minor
     deviation from strict obedience. It seemed the practical thing
     to do at the time, and so he took matters into his own hands
     and did not strictly obey. We need to develop the attitude the
     centurion had towards God.)

     A. Read Luke 7:9-10. What was it in the centurion's words 
     (vv.6-8) that amazed Jesus? (I think it was his recognition of
     Jesus' power in the purest sense.  He knew that simply a WORD
     from Jesus had all the authority needed to heal his servant.
     No need to waive hands around, say incantations, touch or even
     look at the servant. Jesus' word created the world. (Gen. 1:3;
     John 1:3) The centurion believed a word was enough.)

     B. Why did Jesus heal the centurion's servant? Did it have 
     anything to do with the centurion's power or the fact he had
     built a synagogue? (Verse 9 says his "faith" was the reason.
     Consider his whole course of action here. He sent delegates
     that he thought would appeal to Jesus. He did nothing to
     compromise what he thought might be Jesus' religious beliefs.
     He had absolute confidence that Jesus had the authority in His
     word alone to heal the servant.)


     A. Let's proceed with our next story. Read Luke 7:11-16. 
     Remember we are often discussing the crowd that surrounded
     Jesus. Well, here we have two large crowds for your

          1. What does the large funeral crowd tell you? (Probably
          that the son was well-liked.)

          2. What do we know about his mother? (v.12 That her 
          husband had already died, and now her only son had died.)

     B. Put yourself in the widow's place. What kinds of thoughts
     are going through your mind? (You are left alone in the world.
     Your dear husband has died. All your affection had moved to
     your son, and now he had died unexpectedly. No one is left to
     care for you. The world feels pretty lousy. You are crying.

     C. How does the widow of Nain compare with the centurion?

          1. Does she have power? (Unlikely)

          2. Does she have a plan for healing? (No.)

          3. Does she have faith? (No.)

          4. Does she even know who Jesus is? (Apparently not.)

     D. So why did Jesus heal her son? (Verse 13, "His heart went
     out to her.")

     E. Is there some common lesson thread between the centurion
     and the widow of Nain?  Is there anything in common that
     either of them did that will teach us a lesson about healing?
     (I think the point is what they did not do.  Power and
     position did not "merit" the healing. Lack of power and
     position did not "merit" the healing. Having a plan to seek
     Jesus' help did not "merit" the healing. Even having faith did
     not "merit" the healing, ie., was not an essential component
     to healing.  We cannot "earn" healing. We do not "deserve" to
     be healed.  The only reason for healing is found in v. 16:
     "God has come to help his people.")


     A. Let's move down in Luke 7 and read verses 36-39. Read.

     B. Did Simon the Pharisee know what kind of woman this was?
     (Sure. Otherwise he would not have had this thought.)

          1. So why did Simon have "that kind" of woman in his 
          house?  Is it worse to have a "bad" person in your house
          or to have a "bad" person touch your feet?

          2. John identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of 
          Lazarus. (John 11:2. EGW goes further and makes the
          controversial identification of her as also being Mary
          Magdalene. Compare DA 550 with Mark 16:9))

     C. Matthew 26:6 gives a parallel version of this story and 
     calls Simon, "Simon the Leper."

          1. Could you be touched by lepers? What about simply 
          sinful people; could they touch you? (Lepers were to live
          alone. (Leviticus 13:46) But there was no quarantine
          requirement for sinful people in general.)

          2. Did Simon think he was better than the woman?

          3. Did Simon think he was better than Jesus? (Verse 39
          indicates that Simon thought he had superior knowledge to
          Jesus. If Jesus were a prophet then He would know what
          Simon knew. This is clearly an attitude of superiority.)

          4. How can this story take place if Simon is a leper? (He
          has to be a former leper. This story would not have
          happened if he currently had leprosy. Our lesson
          reasonably suggests that Jesus healed Simon. A miracle or
          death were the only possible conclusions to leprosy.)

     D. Let's read on. Luke 7:40-50.

          1. Tell me, is it better to have been healed from leprosy
          or (at best) an unstated sin or (at worst, if this is
          Mary Magdalene -- Luke 8:2-3) demon possession?

          2. Do you think that Simon is better than Mary?

     E. Why did Jesus tell Simon the story in vv.41-42? (To tell
     him that his arrogance had him seeing things just the opposite
     of what they were. Jesus is closer to the one who is forgiven
     much, than to the one who is forgiven little.  So when Simon
     was sitting there feeling superior to the woman -- thus
     believing he had a better claim to be with Jesus -- Jesus was
     telling him that Mary had the better claim because she loved
     Him more!)

     F. Friend, as long as you believe that Jesus "owes you" 
     because of who you are, or what faith you have, or what you
     have done to promote the gospel, you have the wrong picture. 
     The only one with any merit is Jesus. Our only claim to Him is
     that "God has come to help His people!" (Luke 7:16)  Thus,
     this story of Simon and Mary continues the common "thread"
     that we discovered in the stories of the centurion and the
     widow of Nain.


     A.[go on to the idea that Simon thought he was somebody. That
mary epitomizes the attitude that we should have. That we can do
nothing, and that Jesus has done everything. And that knowledge
should make us eternally grateful.)