Monday, May 01, 2006

May 1-6 Matt. 8:5-13 Faith

Our Faith in God’s Authority

There came unto him a centurion. A Roman military officer, corresponding to our captain. All Palestine was under Roman military government at this time, with headquarters at Cæsarea, and soldiers in every leading town. This centurion probably commanded the company stationed at Capernaum. He was, of course, a Gentile. We learn from Luke 7:3, he came to Jesus, not in person, but by Jewish elders, whom he supposed would have more influence with the Lord.

It seems to be acceptable for people of great faith to ask others to pray. Do we feel we are being more or less faithful to Jesus when we call on our friends to pray for us?

The centurion answered. Through friends whom he had sent for this purpose (Luke 7:6). I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. This humility was partly due to his consciousness that he was a Gentile. Rigid Jews did not hold social intercourse with Gentiles, and the centurion may have supposed that so holy a Jewish teacher as Jesus would hesitate to come under his roof. Speak the word only. "Speak only a word" is the idea, and "my servant will be healed." Not even Martha (John 11:21) thought that Jesus could have saved her brother Lazarus without going to him. His faith was great.

The Centurion understands authority better then I believe we do today. He determines that if he can move men by the command of his word over great distance Jesus authority over healing must be as great or greater. If the incarnated Jesus had to touch a person to heal them his power would be similar to a low level solider who gives the command personally to his front line troops. This is a person who does not make the decisions but communicates them.

It seems clear from this story that the only hindrance to Jesus authority of healing and reign is the faith of those involved. Those with Faith in the commander of the army move without hesitation to accomplish the missions he calls out. Those who doubt the commands hesitate, the missions stall and even fail. It is fun to imagine the power and reign of Jesus in our church today. Where there is great faith in Jesus plan and purpose in the world he is doing miracles and changing lives. Where there is great doubt and hesitations the missions seem small and often failing.

Does this image of Faith and authority make sense to us? Is there another image or illustration that helps you understand Jesus’ authority in the world?

Many shall come from the east and west. The terms, "the east and the west," the extreme points of the compass, are taken to indicate the regions that are far away, the whole world. The Lord means not only those who are geographically far away from Israel, but those who have been far away spiritually, Gentiles as well as Jews. Shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. The Jews were accustomed to speak to the delights of the Messiah's kingdom as a feast with the patriarchs. The language implies intimate domestic intercourse and fellowship. The kingdom of heaven refers, here, rather to the eternal blessed state than to the church on earth.

This passage speaks to a sense of surprise at who will be at the heavenly banquet with God. What does Jesus seem to be implying is required to join God at the table?

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At 6:45 AM, Blogger jules said...

praise God that He alone is the judge, that has to question and know the sincerity and depth of faith of every individual! what a scary reminder though to me to self-evaluate the depth of my faith with the thoughts of "outer darkeness and gnashing of teeth", dancing around in my head. this passage begins by giving great hope to anyone who reads about the centurion and seeing and believing in the spanse of our Savior's power, and yet leaves you in the end with a need for a reality check and deep self-evaluation of my own faith.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger DJ said...

I agree with your comment about self evaluation. I have been wrestling this week with the nature of Faith and prayer. This story really showed me that I do not always have my head in God's reality. The centurian had to humble himself and acknowledge that he did not have the authority Jesus did in this situation. I am starting to think I am missing some of what God can do, by living life as if I can only do or see done what is in my power. I know I can't heal people and so I am not excited about entering into their pain and suffering.

I have this picture in my head of opening doors for God. That if I have faith in his authority to heal (the whole person Will, Mind, Emotions) that my prayers and conversations are about inviting Jesus into the problem.

At 5:29 AM, Blogger jules said...

that's so interesting because i had a similar insight, but not until yesterday after responding to this, when i was working with a little girl at school that i have repeatedly been frustrated with. Frustrated because i know i'm not getting through to her and helping her to succeed in her capabilities as a writer and to not be a thief. it didn't dawn on me until last night and again this morning as i was reading your response that this is something that i am going to have to make a practice of. taking my students into prayer and allowing God to intervene in their lives, and not me thinking I can do it all...

this doesn't seem as glorious as healing, but i think this could extend to letting God's power reign in all aspects and as you said not having the short sightedness of doing only what i can see

At 8:31 AM, Blogger DJ said...

This passage has really been speaking to me in fresh ways each day this week. One day it will be authority, another faith, and finally humility.

I think I am coming to grips this week with the difference between thoughts of being humble and practical humility. Practical Humility asks me to confess my mistakes and bad habits to others that they might pray for my healing and forgiveness. This step of speaking and vulnerablity is hard, but what I have been noticing in the passage is that it would have been incredible hard for the Centurian to come to Jesus.


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