#62 – What the Gospels Teach – The Centurion’s Faith (Part 1) – Matthew 8:5-13

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented." Jesus *said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion 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 also am a man under authority, with 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. "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment. (Matthew 8:5-13 NASB)

In the last passage we see a leper cleansed, and we notice that leper immediately acknowledges the authority of Christ, and places himself at the mercy of the will of Christ. Moreover we notice the end of the Sermon on the Mount, just preceding these happenings where the crowds stood astonished... why? because Christ taught with authority and not like their scribes. As it has been stated before in this series, the way Jesus did ministry was to preach hard with authority, and also to serve with compassion, He was balanced, not some liberal serve only mentality, and not some fundamentalist preach only mentality. It should be noticed though that both His teaching and His healing highlighted His authority.

The centurion comes to Christ with compassion for his servant and tells Jesus of the situation. Now, as a centurion this man had authority, moreover he would have been a man despised of the Jews. You can imagine the Hebrew people hoping that Jesus would really lambaste this guy, so it was a major disappointment to them when Jesus says “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” What caused Jesus to marvel at this man’s faith? First off, this is a man who is used to having authority and used to being able to do whatever he wanted or need to do. He expresses this to Jesus saying “...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.” Moreover as a roman centurion he also had authority over the Hebrew people around him. For a centurion with this type of authority to call someone else Lord publically was an enormous step of faith, it is a public admission that he is not the ultimate authority, moreover that he would call a Hebrew Lord only amplifies the humility of this admission. Jesus marvels at this man’s faith. This centurion has the force of the Roman empire with the ‘lord’ Caesar at the top of that empire on his side. Effectively in this moment the Roman Centurion makes a recognition that Christ is a greater authority than the roman empire.

Jesus said He hadn’t seen that type of faith in all of Israel. The people of Israel did not tangibly believe that God had authority over the Roman Empire... the centurion recognized Christ had that authority. Of course the theology of the Hebrew people was such that they intellectually recognized the power and authority of God, but when it was placed before them they could discern it. We see the same thing in ‘Christian’ America today. So much fear among Christians about politics and choosing the lesser of two evils, so much fear about being relevant no matter what it takes, so much financial worry, and so on. Our theology teaches us that God has control and authority and that He is ultimately good, but an honest inspection of American ‘Christianity’ shows that it is no more faithful than the established synagogues of Christ’s day. “I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel!” Ultimately Christ would be condemned by the Roman leadership and the Hebrew leadership together... the Hebrew people would appeal to the authority of the government in order to slay their own messiah who is a higher authority... do not believe for a minute that the largely unconverted professing church in America with its obsession over politics and desire to use the government to accomplish ‘God’s will’ is not doing the very same thing.

I guess I’ll leave it there, this post disintegrated into a rant, which was not the original intent.

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