Tuesday, June 05, 2007



Matthew 8:5-13

We are presently dipping into the book of Matthew to examine the teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom. We just finished Matthew 5, 6 and 7 where Jesus sets forth almost a Kingdom Manifesto. After this dynamite message, Matthew sets forth a section on the miracles of Jesus (Matthew 8-12). And, in each chapter-8, 9, 10, 11 and 12-Jesus makes some reference to the Kingdom.

Here in chapter 8 of Matthew Jesus encounters a Roman centurion who is asking for Jesus to heal one of his servants. Let's look at it:

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly."

7 Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?"

8 The 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. 9 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."

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I 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. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.

This is a simple reference to the Kingdom, but it speaks volumes. A Roman centurion, a non-Jew, or in application to today you might say this man is a non-Christian. He does not come from any "acceptable" religious background (an outsider), yet he expresses a most remarkable faith-a faith so outstanding that it far exceeds any faith of an insider.

I want to offer four observations from this encounter about the Kingdom: FIRST-Jesus makes it clear that the Kingdom is for many "outsiders" coming from the east and the west. This is the message of the entire Scripture. The Lord chose the Jewish people to be a blessing to the nations of the world. The Kingdom was never to be owned by the Jews and kept for themselves.

SECOND-Jesus makes it clear that what is required of an "outsider" is a simple active faith in Jesus-what He says and does and can do. He believed in Jesus enough to act as if it was true.

THIRD-Jesus doesn't require this "outsider" to become an "insider". He doesn't stop the centurion after he displays his active faith and insist that he go quickly and take a course in "insider" doctrinal studies. He doesn't urge the centurion to join a local synagogue. He let him go with his active faith as if it was enough.

FOURTH-It's clear to me from this encounter that Jesus demonstrates the bottom-line of the Kingdom. The Kingdom is not about a set of beliefs, not a commitment to an order, nor to an institution, nor a movement, nor a code of conduct-you are attached primarily to a Person, and secondarily to these other things. The person? His name is Jesus.