"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Matthew 8:5-13 -- Astonished By Great Faith

Matthew 8:5-13 tells the story of a Roman centurion who came to Jesus on behalf of a servant who was paralyzed and suffering terribly at home. At this time many Jews thought visiting a Gentile home would defile them. I get that impression from this statement by Peter. Apparently it was one of those traditions people adopted as truth straight from God.

Peter’s words are both interesting and significant:

28 He said to them, “You know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile, yet God has shown me that I should call no person defiled or ritually unclean. 29 Therefore when you sent for me, I came without any objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?” (Acts 10:28-29)

I find it interesting that Peter believes it is unlawful for him to associate with or visit a Gentile (verse 28). As I read these words, I asked myself this question: “Just where does it say in the Old Testament Law that a Jew cannot associate with a Gentile by entering his home?” I then came upon this statement by A. T. Robertson:

But there is no O.T. regulation forbidding such social contact with Gentiles, though the rabbis had added it and had made it binding by custom. There is nothing more binding on the average person than social custom.

I am therefore inclined to say that having social contact with a Gentile was not contrary to Old Testament law, but rather was a violation of Jewish tradition. source

Jesus heard this centurion's plea and immediately replied that he would go and heal the sick servant.

8The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For 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."

One study Bible notes, "The Roman centurion recognized in Jesus an authority far beyond what most observers detected. He trusted in the power and word of Jesus. ..."

And what was Jesus' reply to this centurion's recognition of his authority, his faith in Jesus' ability to heal from afar?

10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Another study Bible note: "Why is faith such a powerful trigger for the miracles of God? God delights to do extraordinary things for those who bank their lives on His goodness and grace. When we exercise faith in God, we're telling Him, 'I believe You.'"

Don't you love it when someone trusts you? When someone believes you? I remember a time a few years ago when someone asked if I trusted him to be telling me the truth. He rightly stated that there is no real friendship without trust. We all want to trust our family, friends and coworkers, right? There is not much worse than lack of trust in a relationship. It kind of makes you second guess everything the other person tells you, makes you nervous that what Friend says may not be what Friend is actually doing. How much worse is it when you cannot trust your spouse especially when thoughts of infidelity torture your mind? Point is our faith pleases God! In fact Hebrews 11 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God.

Notice how Jesus responded to this man's faith. He acknowledged it to those around him astonished that this great faith didn't come from one of the many Jews who had followed him and seen his miracles and heard his teachings daily. No, it came from a Gentile - a Roman solider!

I personally like the statement about many coming from the east and the west because as a nonJew this gives me hope that the salvation God offers isn't exclusively for the children of Israel, but open to anyone who comes to God in faith.

Lastly read this final verse and see how Jesus rewarded the man's faith

13Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

What if the man lacked faith and questioned whether or not Jesus could heal his servant from afar? Is this a lesson for us to boldly believe God for great miracles? How do we respond then when we come to God with faith yet our loved ones aren't healed? I know this is frustrating when we pray believing God can do great things, yet things get worse and worse. How do you deal with this disappointment? Does it hurt your faith in God's goodness? How do you justify what happens to make sense to you? Or do you just try to bury it in an effort to not question God?



Suroor said...

Thoughts? I don't know. I just know that I love Jesus :)

Susanne said...

Hey, now that's a GREAT thought! :)

Thanks for sharing!

Amber said...

I've always liked this story. I know that this centurion had more faith than me, for sure. Could I have trusted that just because I asked, my servant was healed?

I tend to get frustrated sometimes in my own prayers, but I don't blame God. I tend to (rightly or wrongly) believe that I don't get what I'm praying for because *I'm* doing something wrong. I'm not ready, I'm not in the right place, I'm paying for some sin or the other. I really have to work at having the faith that God will answer in His own time, and that His timing is far better than mine. But it's hard to trust that much, because all we can see is the here and now, and we have no knowledge of what's to come, really.

Niki said...

This has nothing to do with your post. I just wanted you to know that I have an award for you at my blog. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, miracles of God still occur today, but miracles are never guaranteed simply because of our faith. Paul the Apostle knew this world’s suffering exceedingly deeply and thoroughly, and even though God through him raised people from the dead, Paul himself had significant physical problems that possibly included his eyes and verbal speech. Although Paul asked God three times to heal him (and certainly Paul had abundant faith!), God decided not to do so for a more important reason, that Paul would remain humble.

We need to have faith in God regardless of His answer to our prayers of yes, no, or patiently wait (often the most difficult!), because He will always lovingly do what is best for His glory and our good.

Susanne said...

Amber, I struggle with some of the same things you mentioned. It's hard to trust God is working all things for our good when it seems so bleak and depressing on our side of things. I guess this is where that hard thing called "living by faith and not by sight" comes into play. But it sure can be difficult when we want an answer ... now!

Thanks for your comment!

Susanne said...

Niki, thanks so much! How sweet! :)

Susanne said...

Rory, welcome and thank you for that wonderful comment. I totally agree. I appreciate you adding what you did - great reminder! It's important for us to remember that God is good, is LOVE and we can trust Him no matter what He allows in our lives.

Thanks again!