Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jesus heals the Centurion's servant; A lesson in humility

“And when He had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, entreating Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering great pain.” And He said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority, with many soldiers under me, and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following, “Truly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” Matthew 8:5-10

I want to have great faith in Jesus. There are, at least, five aspects of the centurion’s faith that can be observed in this passage, and that, by the grace of God, can be emulated.

1. The centurion had faith in God’s power. He knew that God could heal his servant.

2. The centurion was humbled in view of the grandeur of God. While the centurion was himself a man of stature, having a high position, respect, and even earning the recommendation of the Jewish elders, he was entirely humble before God. He did not count himself worthy to come to Jesus or have Jesus come to his home. (The Pharisees had no such inhibitions.)

3. The centurion had faith in the authority of the word of God. “Just say the word.” That’s all that needed to be done. O, that I would have this kind of faith, for God has said so many words, promises, and declarations. The centurion was hoping that a healing word would be granted, but how many things God has already said! Great faith believes that the words God says have authority.

4. The centurion asked. He believed God was powerful and had authority, and he was humble before God. It is very possible for all these aspects of faith to be operative, yet fail to be great faith because we fail to ask God for things. It is possible for a view of God’s greatness, and a proper view of our nothingness, to result in our not asking God for things. But the centurion had faith in God’s greatness, power, and in His immanence. God was present, close, and caring. It occurred to the centurion that this great God of ultimate authority would care about the servant of a Gentile who was in pain. The humble centurion asked the living God to help his servant.

5. The centurion was compassionate. I put this down last even though it is really the first thing that can be observed in this passage. This is because the other aspects have God in view and this, I believe, is a result of the centurion’s faith, rather than the object of his faith. In other words, it was his view of God’s greatness, power, grandeur, authority, and immanence that characterized the faith itself. The fact that he had this kind of faith is then observed to have a certain result or effect on the centurion’s character. It causes the centurion to be compassionate. He cares about his sick, suffering servant. He pleads for God’s help on his servant’s behalf. This compassion is a fruit of the great faith he has in God’s power, authority, and immanence.

Heavenly Father, please increase my faith. O God, open my eyes to your great power. Give me a rock solid confidence in the authority of your word. Break me and make me humble, contrite, and lowly before your presence. Grant me a faith that lays hold of your daily, personal, and intimate involvement in every area of my life, and let faith bear fruit in my life, making me like Jesus - compassionate, caring, loving, gentle, and full of joy in You.

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