December 30 2014

The Centurian and the Hebrew

Posted on the 07:11 pm under Teaching by admin

A trend or fad in software a few years ago was the “mash up”. Basically this consisted of a basic web page that you could “drag and drop” additional smaller programs into and create your own “look and feel”. This might include a weather app or a news channel or your favorite TV program. In other words you would “mash together” several smaller programs into one larger program.

I find myself doing that with scripture – finding two or more complimentary verses and bringing them into a single statement or combination that helps me understand a principle of God’s Kingdom. Let’s look at one scripture “mash up”.

Jesus said many times that he was sent to the lost sheep of Isreal but there were notable times when he engaged with Gentiles. For example, we read of the SyroPhoenician woman who’s daughter was demon-possessed. Jesus ignored her at first but she persisted in seeking Him out until, in response to her visible faith, Jesus granted her request and the daughter was healed.

But I want to combine another encounter that Jesus had with a Gentile with teaching from Hebrews to show what it was that Jesus responded to.

A Centurion was a Roman military officer; the one in Luke Chapter 7 was stationed in Isreal as part of the occupation force. The Centurion had a servant whom he evidently cared for very much who was taken ill. Instead of praying to Roman gods, this man sent Jewish elders to Jesus to intercede for the servant. And Jesus starts back with them intending, it seems, to heal the servant.

But the Centurion, aware of his standing among the Jews, sends others to Jesus to give him these words, “Lord, do not trouble yourself further, for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; I say to one ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and do my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it”.

This man understood how authority worked and he attibuted authority in matters of healing to Jesus because he had obviously heard of the healings that Jesus accomplished. Do we acknowledge that authority that Jesus has? In Matthew 28, after His resurrection, Jesus flatly states, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me“. Can you connect with that?

Jesus response was to the Centurion’s words was amazement; not many times does it show Jesus amazed by anything! What amazed Him? He says, “not even in the house of Isreal (where there SHOULD be faith) have I found such great faith.” And the Centurion’s servant was healed.

Now turn with me to the great faith chapter, Hebrews 11, and let’s find a more detailed description of what Faith is. In the New English Translation we read, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and convinced of what we do not not see.” Faith is assurance and conviction of unseen realities – this is what the Centurion had.

So let’s mash up this definition into Jesus words, “Not even in the house of Isreal have I found anyone so sure of what they hoped for and convinced of what they do not see.” That’s the faith the Centurion had and also the faith of the Syrophoenician woman. Persistent faith that says, I already can see the answer if Jesus will only speak the word.

Can you see the answer you need from Jesus? Are you sure of what you hope for and convinced that you have the answer even though you can’t yet see it? Tied in with this teaching is another on faith and doubt – a realization that you can have BOTH and that it can hinder your prayers. Read the post titled:

  • Bewagi said, on August 11th, 2015 at 5:58 pm. Reply

    I think I’m being ornery today. I was redearing this passage and wondering why the centurion had the elders call Jesus to his house in the first place if he knew that Jesus could heal his servant from afar. Why is that true faith? If the centurion knew that all Jesus had to do was to give the order to heal, then why didn’t he just ask the elders to ask Jesus to heal his servant? Instead, the centurian sent the elders asking him to COME and heal his servant. Then, when Jesus makes the trip and gets close to his house, then the centurion comes out and tells him that he knows that Jesus doesn’t need to come into his house. I don’t get it.Anyway, on another topic: The passage about the elders appealing to Jesus on behalf of the centurion, saying that he deserves to have his healing wish fulfilled, made me about what I think that I deserve in this life. Our human ethics are built on a concept of fairness based on quid pro quo (i.e., you do this for me and I’ll do that for you, or you treated me like that so I’ll treat you like this). Jesus’ merciful grace is founded upon people getting what we don’t deserve (forgiveness and reconciliation with our Creator), or, to put in another way, people *not* getting what we truly deserve (eternal separation from Him). So, the next time that I think that something’s not fair in my life or in the world, I’ll have to think twice. Jesus has restored my relationship with my Creator, what more do I think I deserve in this life? If I spend every moment of the rest of my life thanking and praising Him, it will not be enough. I wish that I could experience more the depth of Jesus’ love for me, but I don’t think I can because then I would also have to experience His unfathomable pain at how I waste my life pursuing things other than Him. He longs to give me more of Himself and bring me closer to Him, but I am pre-occupied with selfish desires and worthless pursuits. I’m sorry, Jesus.

    • admin said, on August 11th, 2015 at 6:36 pm. Reply

      Wow this is good! I know there’s been times when I asked someone for something not expecting them to respond but when they do I am not as ‘gung ho’ as when I asked. Perhaps when the Centurion realized Jesus was actually coming (which I don’t think he had any reason to expect) he more fully realized his own unworthiness. It’s like Jesus waiting for several days after Lazarus died to come to Mary and Martha. At that point they had no reason to expect Jesus to be able to do anything but he showed them his power over even the grave!

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