Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Luke 9:51-62

Summary:  Clearly Jesus is focused and determined here.  The Greek highlights this.  This passage is a humbling reminder for a culture that wants to fit Jesus into our life rather than build our life on Jesus.  Church becomes one of many competing activities instead of the encounter with the living Lord that weekly re-orients our life.  The good news? Jesus does not let the rejection of pagans stop him from dying on the cross for them and for us; likewise our lack of focus and prioritization of Jesus does not change his death for us on the cross.

Key words:
αναλημψεως (meaning "ascension", 9:51)  This inclusion of this word is a reminder that the ascension is an integral part of the plan for Jesus.

το προσωπον εστηρισεν ("strengthened his face", 9:51)  It is interesting that Luke uses the word face (προσωπου) three times in this three verses.  Almost no English translations capture this.  Luke wants to give us a visual here.  Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem.  His eyes are on the prize!

του ("the" in the genitive, 9:51)  Greek can show intention by combining "του" + an infinitive.  Greek can also show intention with the preposition "εις" meaning "for."  In 9:51 Luke stacks all of this together to create one long sentence of purpose!

ετοιμασαι (meaning "prepare", 9:52)  The word prepare shows up frequently in the Gospel of Luke and often at important times:

John the Baptist prepares for John (1:17, 1:76, 3:4)
God's celebration of Jesus birth (Luke 2:31)
Prepare for passover (22:8)
Prepare spices for burial (23:56, 24:1)

προτον ("proton" meaning "first", 9:59,60)  The core problems is neither love nor duty with family.  However, the key is the word first -- proton.  What is first in your life?

A proton is the building block of the periodic table -- of chemistry.  It is the foundation upon which every atom exists.  In fact, an atom can be stripped on neutrons, even temporarily electrons.  But without a proton, an atom, by definition, ceases to exist.  What is integral and essential for us today?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Galatians 5:1;13-25

Summary:  Freedom means something different for Paul than for modern Americans.  For modern Americans freedom means license to live as we please.  In Paul's eyes freedom is not about the individual, but living as the new creation in community.  I think it is greatly worth preaching on this topic -- what does freedom actually mean?  Freedom allows us to reject -- even crucify -- the flesh and embrace service together in the community.   At the bottom of the post I offer some more suggestions on preaching.

ενεχεσθε ("hold in", from ενεχω, 5:1) This little verse is a good example of how context helps us translate.   Paul here commends us not to "be subject/be burdened" (ενεχω) to the yoke of slavery. This word, ενεχω (enecho), is tough to translate.  Literally it means "hold in."  It has the connotation of "cherish inward wrath at one," or perhaps "be seized" with something, as in get caught up in a situation.   Elsewhere in the NT (Mark 6:19; Luke 11:53) it means hold a grudge or be bitterly opposed to.   If one inserts this translation, one gets this meaning: "Christ set you free; don't be opposed to the yoke of slavery!" That doesn't sound right!

So...let's look at the whole context.  Galatians as a whole and specifically chapter 5 suggest the yoke of slavery is not the burden of following Jesus but the burden of (antiquated) laws and works-righteousness.   Thus, we need a different translation; ultimately we will take on the burden of slavery to Christ.  To capture this, a best sense is probably "caught up in"  as in, "don't get caught up in the law again."  I think the NIV does the best job with this translation (be burdened).

αφορμη(ν) ("opportunity," 5:13) A little bit more word play.  Paul tells us here not to "indulge the flesh" (NIV). Paul literally writes: Not freedom for αφορμη in/to the flesh, but through love serve/slave one another. The word αφορμη is pretty interesting and alone would make for a good sermon in a few ways. The word comes from apo (from) + horme (ορμη with rough breathing accent).  "horme" comes into English as "hormone," meaning "stir" or "impulse."   An apohorme then is a base from which the impulse comes.  Moreover, the word can also mean the capital of a banker. So you have three metaphors for how our freedom can be abused: we follow the hormones of our flesh; we use our freedom as a base of operations for the flesh or it becomes the capital on which we draw to sin...Grace becomes the bank that we rob...

λογος ("word," 5:14) Paul curiously phrases this verse: "The law can be fulfilled in one command, love one another as yourself." First off, he does not use the word command; he uses the word "logos."  I am speculating here, but I wonder if Paul almost wants to elevate this above the idea of commandments, if not the law itself. (Paul uses similar language in Romans 13:9). It as if Paul is saying -- loving your neighbor belongs to the eternal Word; the other stuff we have are laws and words.  In fact, the command, "Love you neighbor as yourself" is not really a command, but in fact, an indicative statement: "You will love your neighbor as yourself." While Greek can use the future indicative for a command, I find this fascinating that the most essential command is, in fact, not a command.   We cannot be told to love our neighbors.  This is not a possibility for obedience.  We can obey simply tasks, but love of our neighbor is a divine gift, a fruit of the Spirit.

πεπληρωται ("fulfill", from πληρoω, 5:14)  Summed up is not a strong enough translation for this verse.  It means more brought to fullness or completion.  I think the translation: "The law is completed in one word, in this: Love your neighbor as yourself"

εσταυρωσαν (form of "σταυρoω", 5:24)   It is striking here that Paul says that Christians are actually doing the crucifying of the flesh. Normally these sorts of activities are done by God or left in the passive; here the verb is in the active.   First off, only those who are are of Christ can do this (vs 24) and the Spirit is guiding us (vs 25).  Clearly Paul puts this in terms of the trinity, but Paul does not let our own activity off the hook...

στοιχημεν ("walk", 5:25)   The word for walk here is "stoicheoo."  This word has a rather interesting meaning and related sets of words, but basically, it comes from the word for rows. The idea here is that to "walk" in the spirit here would mean to "assemble orderly ranks for walking."  In short, to walk in the Spirit is probably not as free as we think it is today.  It is certainly not as independent as we'd have it either.

Some reflections on preaching:  How do we convince people that freedom in Christ is true freedom, greater than their political, sexual and economic freedoms they find in our culture today?  Perhaps one way to show this is how our "freedoms" turn out not to be as freeing as we thought!

I also think the challenge with the word love is that people here love against a background of autonomy; I do not think any Biblical writer could possible imagine the extent to which people in our preaching audience view themselves as independent moral agents.  In short, I think the ancients viewed the moral task of life as taking one's place in the "circle of life", finding one's place within the complex matrix of human and divine relationships that exist.  I think modern Americans view the moral task as "finding oneself" and then maybe, just maybe, inserting oneself back into this moral matrix, but likely on one's own terms!  Sin was something that jeopardized one's place in this moral matrix; today sin is likely a failure to "let it go" and "be yourself."  Even if this is sounding like a rant...any discussion about Paul's notions of freedom (and love) must be restored to a far more communal way of approaching life than the individual notions we have today.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Luke 8:26-39

Summary:  Just because someone has broken free of their chains, does not mean they are free of their demons.  This is story about Jesus freeing an outcast of their demons and restoring them to life.  It takes identifying the problem, the prayerful word of God, a person who can integrate the healed back into society and frankly, an economic cost to the whole.  As I read this story this year, I think about the great challenge it is to heal and restore people.  It is not impossible, but it is a greater work than I first thought.

Key Words:
εδεσμευετο αλεσεσιν (from δεσμευω αλυσις, meaning "bound in chains", 8:29)  What is interesting is that even though the man can break free of his chains, he is not free.  The Bible presents a complex relationship between chains and imprisonment and freedom.  At points God comes to set the prisoner free.  As Jesus quotes from Isaiah:  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."  (Luke 4:18-19)  On the other hand, Paul will write numerous points about his work in chains (Ephesians 6:20, Acts 28:20; Philippians 1:14).  This does not stop the message, but the message goes forth.  As Paul most pointed says in 2 Timothy 2:9 "...for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained."  External chains do not always reveal the inner and more enduring chains.  External freedom may not be true freedom.  To put it another way, just because someone has broken free of their chains, does not mean they are free of their demons.

ερημος (pronounced "heramos," meaning wilderness or desert; 8:29)  This word comes into English as "hermit."  The desert is a spiritual place in the Bible, a place where demons do dwell, but God is also present (think temptation story with both the devil and angels present).

λεγιων (pronounced "legion", 8:30)  This could simply refer to the fact that there are many demons...or could be an illusion to a Roman military unit; a hostile, non-kosher, occupying force!  Here is my take:  In order to exorcise a demon, you have to know its name!  We must name the problems in this world to solve them!

αβυσσος (pronounced, "abyssos", 8:31)  The word abyss is the place of the dead in Scripture; it also seems to refer to the primordial chaos waters.
Romans 10:7 "or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
Genesis 1:2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Sadly, this is the only place in Luke's Gospel where the word abyss is found!  I was wanting some more fun!

βοσκοντες (meaning "tend", 8:34)  A nice example of a substantive participle...but I digress.  The point here is that the emancipation of the demon possessed man (the outcast in society) cost the society something, even with Jesus present.  What are we willing to give up to help the outcasts?  I would love to say that its not a zero sum game (because it isn't), but giving life to the outcasts in society is not without costs.

εφοβηθησαν (verb from "φοβος", pronounced "phobos" meaning "fear", 8:35).  The reaction to the healing of the person is fear.  How often might we react in fear to God's emancipating work?  How can this be overcome?  Fortunately the fear is not of the man, but of Jesus.  How might the healing work of God have a cost for the ones doing the healing and freeing work?

θεος ("theos", meaning God 8:38).  This is a subtle reminder that Jesus = God.  Jesus tells him to tell what God has done; he tells what Jesus has done. 

κηρύσσων (pronounced, "kerusso" akin to kerygma, meaning "proclaiming", 8:39) Jesus officially commissions the disciples to "proclaim" in 9:1; here is his first commissioning, however.  The disciples have lots of training before they are sent out; in this case, this person is sent out to declare the Word of the Lord in his life.  I wonder if we spend so much time preparing people for grand commissionings (seminary) that we overlook the very basic task of commissioning people in our midst to talk about God's work in their lives. 

A little grammar bonus:
τι εμοι και σοι ("what to you and to me", 8:28)  The Greek here seems pretty mild "What is to you and to me?"  It really means "What is your problem with me?"  It is used often to set up an adversarial conversation between two parties.  Interestingly, this will be how Jesus approaches his mother at Cana (in John 2)

Side note:  If you are curious about how Luke and Mark are different in this story:  Mark uses imperfect tenses for verbs, highlighting the on-going battle.  Luke uses aorist.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Luke 7:36-8:3

This passage occurs in the RCL during year C, most recently June 2016.

Summary:  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. story.  It is a beautiful story of what forgiveness looks and feels like.
It is profound that this passage is paired with the Galatians 2:15-21 reading.  In that passage we hear about what the process of justification (forgiveness) and sanctification (Christian living) look like in propositional truth form.  In this passage, we see what it looks like in narrative form.  I love the Paul passage, but the Luke one may be easier to preach on.  What does justification look like:  The world's opinion of you has not changed, but you can worship the crucified savior.  What does sanctification look like:  The world's opinion of you has not changed, but you can go in peace.  As either Paul or Luke portray is, sin does not go away, either inside or outside, but Christ's love, given to us in faith, gives peace and joy.

Key words: 
ηλειφεν (from αλειφω, aleipho, meaning "anoint", 7:38)  This word is interesting because of where it appears in the Old Testament (or the Old Testament translated into Greek, the Septuagint).  Priests were anointed (Exodus 40:13; Numbers 3:3); those in grief mourn (2 Samuel 12:20; 14:2).  Either of these offer great ways to think about Jesus:  He is being anointed priest by a grand sinner; or the woman is in mourning over his death.  I vote for the later because she uses μυρον (7:37) or myrrh, which is used for the burial of the dead.

Note:  Although this word means anointed, it is not the same word as anoint like a king.  That word in Greek is "Christ"!

αγαπη (agape, meaning "love", 7:42)  The proper/necessary/automatic response to forgiveness is love.  Duh.  But...why is this not always the case for us when we experience forgiveness?  Perhaps we do not believe we have sinned; perhaps we do not know what love is.  The story suggests that the Pharisee, being unaware of his sins, did not appreciate his forgiveness and therefore did not love (or know how to love?).  If this is the case, then good preaching should make us feel really bad (right!?) in order to make us realize how much Jesus loves us.  I think this is somewhat true, but I wonder what else there might be.

Another take: the new creation loves and rejoices in forgiveness.  But this is often hidden from us.  We don't feel forgiveness and we don't feel love when we are in church and experience church.  God preaching reminds us that even when we don't "feel" it, God is still present, forgiving us and renewing us, even amid death and sin, that are always present realities.

To put it another way -- how do I know I am forgiven?  We have permission to worship the cruficified savior.

εχαρισατο (from χαριζομαι, charizomai, meaning "forgive" or "grace", 7:42)  It is important, at least to me, to acknowledge that humans do not forgive each other.  We can be gracious to each other and cancel debts, but forgiveness of sin belongs to God.  This is why there is such consternation that Jesus actually forgives (αφιημι).  Outside of commissioned priests, finding examples of humans forgiving each other is truly rare in Scripture, if arguably at all.  We are called to be gracious to one another and forgive (if not bear) one another's burdens.  But when it comes to a final reckoning, this belongs to God, and not my neighbor.

σεσωκεν (from σωζω, sozo, meaning "save", 7:50)  Beautiful use of perfect tense in Greek.  The faith saved her in the past but creates a future state of being saved.

ειρηνην (Irene (extra "n" is because its accusative case), meaning "peace" 7:50)  This is a stark look at the peace of Christ.  The community looks down on her, yet she has peace.  Peace in Christ does not mean the external reality has changed.  It means inside we know who Jesus is and that Jesus loves us.

αυτιας ("of theirs", 8:3)  This feminine plural dative...means this:  women were funding Jesus ministry.  They were also commissioned.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Galatians 2:11-21

This passage occurs as the RCL New Testament lesson during year C, most recently June 2016.  It sometimes appears as Galatians 2:15-21.

Summary:  I feel like Paul's point is easier than to sing than to preach:  We are saved by grace; we still sin; Christ dwells in us.  The solution to sin is not a better you or me, but Christ dwelling in me and you.

Last lectionary cycle (2013) I played with the phrase "orthopedics" and walking with the Gospel.  I wore two shoes.  The first shoe was for the the law.  In fact, I wore no show on one foot.  I could only see my bear, stinky, calloused and splotchy haired feet:  A reminder I am a mortal sinner who is not God.  The other shoe was a work boot for the mission trip.  Christ forgives us but also makes a home in us, so that, just like him, we might live for God, which of course, means a life of praise and service toward the neighbor.

Key words and concepts:
κατεγνωμενος ("condemned," καταγινωσκω, 2:11)  Some translations stick in a "self-condemned" here because the verb is in the passive.  (It literally reads "He was condemned".)  Not sure if it is fair to read this as self-condemned or not.  What I do know is that the NIV's "he was in the wrong" is about a sugar coated as a summer fair cotton candy stick...

αφοριζω ("set aside," 2:12)  Being set aside is not always a bad thing. Paul says he is "set aside" to be an apostle (Rom 1:1) and Paul even addresses this fact in Gal 1:15!!  For what are we as baptized Christians set-aside?

ορθοποδεω ("walk consistent with", 2:14). (Loan word in English: orthopedics!) Paul here talks about walking correctly toward/with the truth of the gospel! Great image. This is perhaps our goal as pastors, to give people the right shoe!  Somehow walking with Christ includes being crucified with him and living to God (2:20).

Side note:  This word is a only used once in the New Testament.  Sometimes people use the frequency of infrequent words to justify Pauline authorship.  Unfortunately, there are just as many single use words (technically:  hapax legomenon) in Galatians as in Ephesians, a letter whose authorship is often debated; for a nice article on the difficulties of using hapax legomenon as evidence of authorship, see a good wikipedia article.

πιστεως χριστου ("faith of Christ", 2:16):  This is a little phrase in a big theological debate:  How to translate:  Faith of Jesus Christ?  There are two clear options:
A) Objective genitive: The genitive is the object; faith's object is Jesus Christ.  Faith in Jesus Christ.
B) Subjective genitive: The genitive is the subject; Jesus Christ is the subject who has the faith.  Jesus Christ's faith

If you push toward objective translation, you are basically saying we are justified by Christ's faith in God, which may mean our own faith is not necessary for salvation.  I am comfortable leaving this translation ambiguity, because Galatians 2:19-20 argues that our and Christ's hearts became one in faith anyway!

For those curious, though, the NET Bible summarizes the challenge: A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated "faith in Jesus Christ," an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πιστεως χριστου and similar phrases in Paul (Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean "Christ's faith" or "Christ's faithfulness" (cf., e.g., G. Howard, "The 'Faith of Christ'," ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, "πιστις χριστου," NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πιστεως takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, "The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul," NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, "Once More, PISTIS CRISTOU," SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view.

Some grammar odds and ends:
2:12 Lesson on infinitive phrases: The phrase "Before they came..." is in "articular infinitive with preposition" construct. Which basically means it reads like this: "Before the coming them" and should be translated, "Before they came." First translation help: The subject of any infinitive phrase in Greek is in the accusative. Second translation help. The verb here is in the aorist. Which suggests not as much past time but "point" or "event" time. Before the event of their coming...or even "Before their arrival." 

2:14 Lesson on the subjunctive: Paul uses an "ei" clause; because the verb of the clause is in the indicative and not the subjunctive, you can (and should) translate the "ei" as "since" and not "if."

Monday, May 30, 2016

Luke 7:11-17

This passage occurs in the RCL, Year 3, most recently June 5, 2016.
Summary:  Luke paints a vivid picture of a funeral here.  I have two points I'd like to emphasize.  First, that human grief over death is real.  In our culture we expect people to move on so quickly.  I think the church, even the church of the resurrection, should be a place where we have compassion on people as they grieve.  Secondly, Jesus raises this child up.  We often refer to Jesus "three fold messianic" prediction where he speaks of his death on the cross and resurrection.  In Luke 7, 8 and 9 he raises up three only begotten children, perhaps also a place of foreshadowing his great work of resurrection.

Key Words:
First, a note.  Luke paints a vivid picture of a funeral here in a just a few sentences.
Words related to death: 
τεθνηκως 12:  Particle form of "to die"
εκκομιζω 12:  To carry out, often referring to act of carrying body for burial
σορος 14:  coffin, bier
νεκρος 15: corpse (death in general)

κλαιε ("wail", 7:13)  Some translations put this as weep.  While it can mean weep, it signifies an intensity much more like "wail" than "weep."  Like when Hagar is alone in the wilderness; or Joseph sees his brother; or when Mary is searching for the risen Christ.

χηρα ("widow"; 7:13)  In this culture, a widow was not simply a marital status, but also a financial one.  A widow would have lacked resources, likely.  Her son was her social security.  This detail can open up the door for a nice contrast between the story of the widow at Nain and the Centurion at Capernuam.

μονογενη ("only begotten", 7:13)  Jesus heals three "only begotten" children in Luke 7, 8 and 9.  While Jesus himself is never referred to as the only-begotten son in Luke, this three fold healing suggests foreshadowing for Jesus resurrection.

προφητης ("prophet", 7:16)  The word prophet appears 24 times in Luke, often from Jesus' lips.  Most often Jesus refers to prophets in two ways:  Those who were killed or those who spoke of his (eventual) coming.  To put it another way, people often associate being a prophet with the capacity to speak about the future (Harry Potter) or the audacity to speak about social justice.  In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus depicts the prophets as people who spoke of him and got killed for doing so.

For example:
Luke 13:34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! Luke 18:31 Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.
But more to the point, look at how Jesus describes the work of prophets on the road to Emmaus:
Luke 24:25 Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!
Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you -- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."

As a side note:  Jesus does declare himself greater than a prophet (Luke 7:26 says that John was greater than a prophet; Luke 16:16 that the Good News, not the Law and Prophets, is proclaimed through him).

εσπλαγχνισθη ("compassion", from σπλαγχνιζομαι, 7:13)  I've frequently mentioned this before but this verb comes from the noun for intestines.  In his gut Jesus felt sorry for the woman.

Grammar point:
μη + present verb (as in "weep" in 7.13) means "no longer do such and such," implying the action was going on before this.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Luke 7:1-10

This passage occurs in the RCL, Year C, most recently May 29, 2016.
Summary:  Like so many passages in Luke, there is layer of meaning regarding faith, healing and the Word of God; there is also another layer of complex social dynamics.  Luke presents cultural rules and norms that are both being obeyed and broken.  How to preach this?

One possibility is to ignore the social dynamics and focus on faith and healing (ie, preach as if you were preaching from Matthew's Gospel, in which the story is simpler!)  
1)  Jesus heals, even through the prayers of others;
2)  Faith in Jesus changes everything; outsiders can have faith too.

Another way is to portray Jesus action over-and-against the social reality of his day.  The world then and today is a messy, complex and broken place.  The world is one of haves and have-nots; of powerful people with agendas (...in those days a decree went out from Emperor...)  In spite of all of this, Jesus compassion and power triumph!

Key Words:
λαος ("people", 7:1).  The word means "the people", as in the commoners.  Luke pays careful attention to the λαος (36 references; Matthew 14; Mark 3 and John 2).  This word sets up quite a contrast to Jesus interactions the rest of the pericope, where he is dealing with the leaders, religiously and politically.  This reminds us that while Jesus cares for the commoners, he also cares about the leaders too.  Compared to him, we are all chumps ;-)

δουλος ("servant" or "slave", 7:2)  Because American history is defined by our freedom from England and then the freedom of slaves, we tend to value "freedom" greatly.  Furthermore, we look with disgust on the entire concept of slavery.  While I do not defend slavery, it is worth pointing out that within Greco-Roman culture slavery meant something different than American antebellum plantation-style slavery.  At the very least, not all slaves were abused and many were considered part of the house.  The centurion will even call the slave his "παις" or child; he considers the slave "εντιμος" or honored; so honored in fact, he seeks out Jesus' healing.  This is a reminder that economic and social boundaries both then and today are often complex.  More generally, the whole scene is one that really puts the preacher in a tough spot -- it is clearly a different world, one that we cannot imagine.  An occupying army general asks the local Jewish healer for a favor regarding his boy-slave and then is found, bizarrely, to have more faith than anyone. 

διασωζω ("save" or "heal"; 7:3)  The root word here is σωζω, or save.  It has dia- as a prefix.  This prefix can intensify a verb, like adding the adverb "thoroughly."  The point is that Jesus' salvation includes earthly healings.

αξιος ("worthy"; 7:4; appears later as a verb in 7:7)  A reminder of the honor-shame dynamics in this culture (of which I know little).   I do feel comfortable making two points though.  First, it seems questionable whether Jesus should have been doing this healing for a non-Jew, especially a member of the opposing army.  In fact, one must wonder about the relationship between the Centurion and Jewish leaders; could then even speak to each other directly?  This is a difficult point for us to address or even consider as Americans.  Second, Jesus power is overturning the cultural expectations of everyone.

πιστις ("faith"; 7:9) A reminder that faith is not a belief in a set of abstract principles, but trust in the divinity of Christ and the salvation he brings.

Two small notes on verb construction that point toward something deeper:
παρακαλεω ("encourage", 7:4).  This verb is in the imperfect suggesting repeated action.  It is unclear why they needed to repeat the request -- perhaps because they felt it important, or because Jesus didn't want to do it.  But something about their continued urging moves Jesus.

μη σκυλλου ("no longer be troubled", 7:6) A reminder about the negative present imperative:  μη + present imperative means "no longer" ie, you were doing this, but stop and continue to stop this.  (Often used in the construction "No longer be afraid" when angels begin speaking to humans.)

Lastly, two words that come into English related to health
υγιαινω -- "hygiene" (the υ has a rough breathing mark)
ιαομαι -- "iatry" like "psychiatry"