Thursday, October 29, 2020

Matthew 8 - Part 2


Read Matthew 8

We think of Jesus ministering to the poor and the afflicted and the downtrodden.  He reached out to sinners and even ate with them. 

He spent some time talking with a Samaritan woman at a well in Sychar, Samaria.  In this chapter, we note that he healed a leper, surely the outcast among the outcast.

These people all spent their lives on the bottom or outside of respectable society.  We see Jesus ministering to them.  It’s hard to miss.

Then comes this Roman, and not just a Roman, but a Roman soldier.  He was not just a soldier, but a Centurion.  He likely commanded about 100 Roman soldiers.  In today’s rank structure, he was like a captain. 

The laws and customs of the land over which the Romans now reigned were of little consequence to this officer.  He could pretty much do what he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted, answerable only to a superior officer or the governor of the region.

The man came to Jesus.  His servant was suffering and paralyzed at home.  This took place in the region of Capernaum, surely a place that Jesus knew well, perhaps he had lived there for a time before beginning the ministry with his disciples.

Jesus was receptive to the needs of the Centurion.  Shall I come and heal him?

What more could this officer want?  Jesus was willing to go with him to his house and heal his servant, but the Centurion proffered his humility.  My house is not worthy of you.  My life is not worthy of you.  I am not worthy, but I am a man under authority.

When my commander orders me to do something, I get it done.  When I give orders, they are followed.  It is the life that I know.  My words are as good as another’s actions.

Lord, just say the word and it will be done.

This could have been the centurion testing Jesus, but this Roman did not have a dog in this fight.  He did not need to best the one who was teaching and healing.  The Centurion lived in the same geography but in a different world and did not have to concern himself with what the Pharisees said or the what the Sanhedrin decided.  The Romans had conquered these people. 

The Centurion had no need to play these games.  In the world that he knew, he was at the top.

The Centurion had a servant who was paralyzed and suffering and he came to Jesus as one who had authority to heal and coming from God, could just give the word and it would be done.

Now that’s some faith!

Jesus told those who claimed Abraham as father and knew they were a people chosen by God, that they had been bested in their faith.  A Roman—a hated Roman—had more faith than he had seen in all of Israel. 

In chapters to come, we see Jesus calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  We see Jesus teaching his disciples that with God all things are possible, but we just don’t see too many instances where Jesus says, now that’s some faith right there.

Consider the Centurion.  Now, that was some faith!

Jesus continued with the message that began with John the Baptizer.  It’s repentance.  It’s faith.  It’s belief that brings you closer to God. 

Your human lineage is important, but not the most important thing.  Seeking God and his kingdom and his righteousness is more important that who your great, great grandfather was.

Jesus told the Centurion that his servant was healed and in that moment he was.

Here we see a man with much authority in the kingdom of the world and a man who held all authority in heaven and on earth.  Both men understood authority.  Both understood the authority manifested in words.

The hated Roman understood the authority of the Son of God more than those who should have received and accepted him.

It’s a story of healing.  It’s a story of faith.  It’s a story of God’s complete authority and sovereignty.  It’s a story that should remind us that Christ came to redeem all.

We get it that he came for the poor and weak and sick.  He also came for those who are empowered by the world.  He came for those who have money and influence.  He came for those who seem to have it all in this world.

There is more to the story concerning how difficult it can be to let go of the treasures of this world and embrace the things of God, but Christ came and he died for all.

People put parameters on who should receive God’s love.  God loves his entire creation.  God has done what is necessary to reconcile his entire creation to him.

When we divide people into groups of who is more worthy of God’s love than others, we discount faith.

When we devise metrics for receiving God’s love, we discount his authority.

When we discriminate based upon human appearances and circumstances, we ignore the counsel that God sees the heart.

Jesus came to liberate humankind from oppression and slavery and disease and much more.  Sometimes we are enslaved by power or money and sometimes we are oppressed because of reasons that may or may not make sense to us, but Christ came for all.

Sometimes, we seem to be on top of our world.  At other times, we think it couldn’t get much worse.  Sometimes, we seem to be respected by all around us.  At other times, our words seem to matter to no one.

We should take the example of the Centurion and never discount where God is at work and where faith will emerge.

We should take the faith of the Centurion and practice it in our own lives. The God who spoke creation into existence can speak healing and well being and peace into your life.

The God who spoke the words I Am can still the waters or cause men to fall on their backs.

The God who could create a clean heart in King David, can restore you fully from whatever is trying to claim you as its own.

We should heed the warning of Christ to those who thought they had it made because of who they were, that such thinking may cause them to miss the boat.

We should know and understand and believe in the sovereignty and authority of God now more than ever.

We should have more faith than the Centurion.  We have professed Jesus as Lord.  We should be models of faith for our families and our congregations and our communities.

As we live for our Master, Christ Jesus, we should give him many occasions to say, “Now that’s some faith.”

Let’s give our Lord reason to look upon us and say, “Now that’s some faith!”


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