Focal Passage: Luke 7:1-17
David Livingstone loved the African
people. Experiencing a call to missions as a young man, he prepared himself
theologically and medically for a career as a missionary. Although his first
choice of destinations was China, God and the London Missionary Society sent
him to Africa. Over the course of his life, Livingstone would explore one-third
of the vast continent of Africa. He would gain the respect of many African
tribes, and upon returning to Britain on short furloughs, would expose to any
who would listen the horrid cruelties of the slave trade. In 1866 he went into
the heart of Africa a final time. When he was not heard from again for 5 years,
Henry Stanley was hired to find him, “at any cost, dead or alive.” Stanley
found Livingstone at Lake Tanganyika. He was deeply impressed with
Livingstone’s faith and the devotion of the natives to him. Stanley vainly
attempted to convince Livingstone to leave Africa.
Livingstone was a humble servant of Christ. When others
tried to make him into someone great, he remarked that he was just a poor
imitation of Jesus, THE great missionary and healer. The two life events found
in this passage reveal the authority of Jesus over sickness and death, and the
compassion of Jesus to people who were not of His race, culture or position.
The first was a Roman centurion who was faced with the likely death of one of
his favored servants. A man of imposing authority himself, he implored his
friends to find Jesus. In the eyes of the Jewish observers, this army captain
was deserving of help. He had shown his love for the Jewish people, even giving
of his money, reputation, and influence so a worthy synagogue could be built in
Capernaum. In response, Jesus came to heal the ailing servant. But Jesus never
arrived. Instead the centurion asked that Jesus just “say the word,” and he
would believe that his servant would be healed. And so it was.
In the second instance, a widow’s son had died. The funeral
was in process, and Jesus stopped the proceedings by speaking to the deceased,
who instantly sat up and spoke. Jesus healed because He is the healer. Jesus
raised the dead because He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus did these
miracles, not because the people were worthy, but because they were willing to
believe, and in so doing, hope was discovered.