Second Sunday after Pentecost

Theme
"JESUS WAS AMAZED AT HIS FAITH!"
Verses
Luke 7, 1-10
Hymns
233, 425, 412, 405

                                                                             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.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

            Imagine Jesus being amazed at your faith!  Imagine Jesus telling a huge crowd of people, I’ve never seen such amazing faith like this person has.   

            Of course, just thinking about that, makes us laugh at how ridiculous that thought is.  We, amazing Jesus by our faith?  Really?  How many times, have we complained to God that it’s just not fair that I have to go through all this stuff, and all those other people don’t?  How many times, when we could have easily professed our faith in front of some loud mouth mocking God, we chose to keep quiet.  I believe that when Jesus looks at our faith and our willingness to always stick our neck out for Him and His kingdom, He could use a lot of adjectives to describe our faith.  But I don’t believe “amazing” would be one of them.  

            So, why was this man’s faith so amazing?  Why did this man have a faith unequal to anyone else in Israel?  What was so special about this man, that JESUS WAS AMAZED AT HIS FAITH?

                                                                                                      I

            The city was Capernaum, where Jesus had already done quite a few miracles.  And here lived a Centurion, something like a captain in the Roman army.  He was a Gentile.  He was a man of war, a man with blood on his hands.  A man who had witnessed the atrocities of war, and maybe feeling guilty about the horrible things he has had to do.  This man has a servant, who was almost like a son to him.  He loved him dearly.  But he was sick and dying.   This Centurion had heard about Jesus’ ability to do miracles.  He also figured that such a holy man would not want to have anything to do with a man like him, so he asked some of the elders of the Jews to go to Jesus and ask Him if He would heal his servant.

            Now, why would God-fearing Jews give the time of day to a Gentile Centurion?  They told Jesus.  “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”  Although he was a Gentile, and a man of war, he is also described as a man who “loves our nation.”  Unlike most Gentiles who despised the Jews and their strange laws, and their strange ways, this man love the nation. 

            He loved Israel, because he loved Israel’s God!  He had come to know the true God of Israel.  Not just the all-powerful God who destroys.  But the loving God who promises salvation and eternal life, even to Gentiles!  He had come to believe in the Savior this God promised.  And for the first time in his life, he had peace in his heart, and a hope for a future home in heaven.  Yes! He loved their nation! 

They also said, ‘He built our synagogue.”  With his own money, perhaps with his own hand, he built a synagogue in the city where people could worship God, and learn more about the Word of God.  Even though he would never be allowed to step foot into it, even though he would always be a second-class child of God, this man didn’t care.  He was just thankful that he was a child of God, second class, fifth class, or 105th class.  He didn’t care.  As long as he belonged to God.

            He was a good man, a generous man, a man who loved God and gladly demonstrated his love for God.  Yes, he deserved to have Jesus answer his prayers.   “So, Jesus went with them,” to meet this amazing man.    

            As they got closer to the man’s house, Jesus learned something else about this Gentile Centurion.  He was humble!  Jesus wasn’t too far from the man’s house, so “the Centurion send 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 didn’t even consider myself worthy to come to you.”   He had sent the Jewish elders to ask Jesus for this request, because he didn’t feel worthy to come to Jesus, he didn’t feel worthy to take up Jesus’ time.  He was a Gentile!  He was an outsider.  He was a second-class child of God.  He didn’t have the right to bother Jesus, to turn Him away from His important tasks to do some favor for him.   Jesus had already given this man more time and energy than he was worth.  Jesus didn’t have to brother himself to come to the Centurion’s home to heal his servant.  

                                                                                                 II

            Of course, you might be a little confused right now.  Didn’t we read, “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.”  Didn’t the Centurion ask Jesus to “come and heal his servant”?  And now, he is telling Jesus “Don’t come into my house to heal my servant.”  That doesn’t make sense.

            From what we know about this Centurion, I have a feeling that he asked the Jewish elders to request Jesus to heal his servant.  They are the ones who added, the “come and heal his servant.”   So, what’s the difference?   Just this.   These Jewish elders were God-fearing men, and may even though Jesus could be the Messiah they were waiting for.  But they also had the idea that in order for Jesus to heal someone, He had to be in close proximity to the person, close enough to touch him, or close enough to be touched by the person.  But He had to be right there, as if Jesus’ power to heal was limited by distance.  In order to heal, Jesus had to be within five feet of the person.   That’s why they would ask Jesus, “come and heal.” 

            The Centurion had a whole different concept of Jesus’ power.   He didn’t expect Jesus to come to his house.   That wasn’t necessary.  Jesus didn’t need to take the time away from other matters to walk to his house.  All Jesus had to do was say the word!  Right where he was!   Regardless of how many miles may have separated them.  Just say the word, and his servant would be healed.

            “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.”  This man was an officer in the Roman army.  But he was just a man!  He had all sorts of people over him, commanding him to do whatever they wanted.  And yet, even as weak as he was, he could order some people to do something.  And the Centurion didn’t have to check up on them.  He knew that if he gave them an order, that is what they will do.   He had that authority even though he was limited in his power.   

            But Jesus is God!  He doesn’t have any limitations.  There is no one over Him.  He has all power over every bit of creation.  That includes life and death.  That includes sicknesses.  Jesus doesn’t have to “come” and heal.  With one little word, from miles away, Jesus speaks and the man’s servant is healed! 

            That is why Jesus was amazed at him.  That is why Jesus would commend this man’s faith to everyone around him.  It wasn’t his love for God’s people.  It wasn’t the fact that he built a synagogue for God’s people.  It wasn’t even his humility.  It was the fact that he had a grasp of who Jesus was, that no one else had.  He understood that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus was the son of God, that Jesus had all power and might.  And no one else seemed to understood that concept.  Not the Jewish elders!  Not even Jesus’ disciples.  But this man who was a Gentile sinner understood it.  Perfectly.

            What about us?  Any chance that we could have a faith like this man’s?  Something to keep in mind.  The fact that Jesus commended this man’s faith, and indicated that his faith was far superior to anyone else in Israel, has nothing to do with whether these people will be in heaven.  Each one of us have saving faith, that’s a gift that God gives us.  And when it comes to this saving faith, there’s no such thing as weak or strong.   With saving faith, you either have it or you don’t.  And this saving faith, given by God, is what gets us to heaven.

            What Jesus is talking about here is this man’s faithfulness to God.  His ability to show the faith in his heart.  His trust and his conviction.  And that will vary in our lives.  Sometimes, we will be heroes of faithfulness.  And sometimes, we will not.  Oh, every day we strive to have a strong faith.  Every day we ask Jesus to give us faithfulness that will cause us to do His work, and shine in this dark world.

            And many times we do.   Sometimes, even without knowing it.  We may be facing exploratory surgery to find out if our problem is cancer or not, and we may be terrified out of our wits.  And when someone asks us how we’re doing, with tears in our eyes, we say, “I’m terrified!  But I know that my God is with me, and will heal me.  Either he will heal the cancer, or He will take me to heaven.  I know my God will do what is best.”  What an amazing demonstration of our faith!   Someone at work may be spouting off at how God is antiquated, and old fashioned, that God no longer exists.  And then they turn to you and say, “What do you have to say to contradict my arguments?”  With fear in your hearts, and desire not to rock the boat, you simply say, “All I know is that when I die, Jesus gives me eternal life, and I will be with him in Heaven.   What does your future hold?”  Again, what an amazing demonstration of our faith?”  

            I doubt if Jesus will ever single me out and tell the world, “Look at what an amazing faith this man had!”  And I really don’t care.   For the most important thing I have is my saving faith, and because of that, I will have eternal life, and when the gates of heaven are closed, I will be standing inside those gates.  And where I stand, I really don’t care, as long as I am standing inside.  

            And yet, God gives us opportunities to show our faith and to share our faith.  God gives opportunities to show our love for God, our faith in God.  And even though we may tremble at the thought, and even though we may not share our faith as boldly as we should, yet, Jesus will get His work done, and he will use our efforts to accomplish His will, and when we are all done, HE WILL BE AMAZED AT OUR FAITH TOO!