Sunday, May 08, 2011

Matthew 8:5-13


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."

This was a bold move by the centurion. A Roman centurion was a high-ranking military leader within the Empire of Rome. He was concerned for one of his servants who had become paralyzed and was suffering from it. Jesus quickly responds to his request. 7 Jesus said to him, "Shall I come and heal him?"

The centurion's reply back to Jesus was: 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."

By his response he was expressing his high respect for Jesus and His authority and power. Note how Jesus views the centurion's response: 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."

Jesus was so impressed with this man's faith and Jesus claims this is the greatest expression of faith he has seen in all of Israel. What makes this so powerful and shocking is that this incredible expression of faith is not coming from any of the Jewish community, but from the Roman world. The Romans served many gods in their culture, including their emperor. Now NOTE what else Jesus says:

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."

Jesus clearly says that many non-Jews will come from throughout the world and from many other cultures to be followers of Jesus. And, on the contrary, many of the Jewish faith and culture will not even be allowed to join in the great feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom. If you were to translate this into a more contemporary expression, Jesus is saying that the people of faith who will ultimately sit at the table of faith in the Kingdom will not all be Christians and from a Christian culture.

This is one of the key passages from Jesus that shows His attitude and teaching regarding sharing God's Messiah with the many cultures of the world.

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. What I think is most curious here is that Jesus pronounces this man as a most significant man of faith and implies that this man and many others like him will come to the table of fellowship and faith. To me, it is even more important what Jesus does not say here. Jesus does not warn him to deny his Roman culture and gods nor did Jesus invite Him to come to a synagogue class where he can get his doctrines straight. Why? Because it's all about a person's relationship with Jesus and not a system or list of beliefs, nor is it about converting a person away from his native culture into the Christian culture.

Jesus is looking for people to follow Him and by following Him you will learn that His ways are full and meaningful for your lifestyle and in the process of following Jesus you will come to know the God of gods. In fact, it's in following Jesus that God, the Father and the Spirit will have the opportunity to transform your life inside out. I like that song, "It's All About You". In this song it says, "We made it something else, but it's really all about, Jesus." It's all about your response to Jesus.