Religion Can’t Save Us, So What Will?

religion wont save us but one thing will
We tire of religion—looking like we have it together—or thinking God will only love us if we do. Religion won't save us, but one thing will.

He sat in the corner chair and cried. Then he lifted his head and his eyes clung to mine.

“Being a Christian is just too hard. I can’t be good all the time,” my son said.

He’s right. Being a Christian is too hard when we try to do all the right things as a way to prove ourselves good enough—to God—to our friends—to ourselves.

Perfect righteousness is too heavy, even for gown-up arms to carry.

So, it’s a good thing that religion can’t save us, but what will?


The religious leaders in Jesus’ time were the ultimate rule-police (but they couldn’t even follow all the rules).

They might be someone like religious Aunt Dorene who talks about the gospel and gives you a Bible verse every other sentence, but never forgave her son for his drug abuse—even after years of sobriety—and gossips about everyone’s sin like she’s the Holy Spirit police.

Jesus was surrounded with religious Aunt Dorenes.

And some of these country-club keepers of religion asked Jesus to help their Gentile (non-Jewish) friend’s daughter become well.

This is where our passage in Luke 7 picks up.

As you read the passage, pay attention to what makes the Centurion man “worthy” in Jesus’ eyes.

Luke 7:1–10.


When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.


He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”


When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

What stood out to you
from these verses?

The elders of the Jews told Jesus that the Centurion was deserving of his servant being healed because he gave money to build a synagogue.

But the Centurion was humble—so humble that he didn’t even approach Jesus and believed that if Jesus said the word—healing for his daughter would be accomplished.

The Jews depended on works and effort to prove the Centurion worthy before Jesus.

But the Centurion depended on Jesus’ grace through his faith.

And Jesus responded, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith, even in Israel.”

PONDER

Take a moment to think about Jesus’ response. How does this affect your relationship with God?


In the rest of the chapter we see Jesus perform another miracle: raising a widows son.

Luke also records John the Baptist asking from prison—through a messenger—if Jesus was the Messiah to come. Jesus responded in an interesting way by telling John all the signs: the blind receive sight. The lame walk. Those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

John the Baptist knew prophesy and would know that these words means Jesus is indeed the Messiah to come—not by Jesus saying he is the Messiah, but by Jesus doing what the Messiah would do.

If others looked at your actions what would they see? A follower of Jesus or just a preacher of Jesus?


The last part of the chapter, we read the story of the sinful woman who anoints Jesus with oil at the self-righteous Pharisee’s house.

Jesus explains that those who are forgiven much, love much. And those who are forgiven little, love little.

The woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus (maybe even worth her life’s savings)— which demonstrated her gratitude for the forgiveness of her sins. Her relationship with God was beyond righteous religion—it was a humble recognition of her sinfulness.


PONDER & PRAY

Where in your life are you depending on religion (good deeds)? Where do you need his grace?  Pray about this or whatever the Spirit has laid on your heart.

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