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So Great Faith
August 21, 2016
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
The sermon on the mount was a hit. It brought Jesus many followers. They responded to His teaching and to His authority.
In this next section, Jesus heals three people, and a group of people, a leper, a Centurion’s slave, Peter’s mother-in-law, and people who are demon possessed and sick.
We continue in our study to look at the character of Jesus. We are not interested simply in what He does but also why He does so. What kind of man is He?
Jesus heals the leper because the leper asks with faith. Jesus was willing to go the Centurion’s house as soon as He was asked to heal his slave. In both instances, Jesus was willing to heal at the smallest request. He wanted to heal people. It was not a burden for Him to do so. He was willing to do so when He was tired at the end of the day, as in the case with Peter’s mother-in-law.
Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law because she was sick and He was near. In that instance, we are not told if she asked. He just touches her and she is healed. Then she gets right back to work.
Then in the evening after the meal, many sick and demon possessed people are brought to Him. So much for quiet repose. He casts out the demons and heals the sick. Why? Because He wanted people to be healthy of body, mind and soul.
Jesus is tireless worker, particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of needy people.
2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
Lepers were not allowed to approach. They were unclean and considered contagious. But Jesus not only lets the leper approach. He touches Him. When an unclean person touches a clean person, the clean person becomes unclean, then they are both unclean. Not so with Jesus. When clean Jesus touches the unclean, they both become clean. This is a significant difference between the Old and New Covenants.
The man was certainly a leper. Lepers not only were unclean with sores. Their flesh was eaten away. Jesus didn’t simply stop the spread of this disease. He restored that which was lost. Jesus was able to create.
4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
We see in the after story why Jesus told the man not to tell about the miracle. The crowds press on Him and He has to depart. Furthermore, He was not simply telling the man to keep this miracle a secret. Jesus wanted the man to be obedient to the law. The law required a leper to be declared clean by a priest and to make a thank offering to God.
Matt. 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
This man’s occupation is important. He is a centurion, a commander of 100 men. Centurions were highly regarded in the Roman army and well paid. This was an important man.
Luke gives us a few more details to the story. The man first sent a Jewish delegation to Jesus. He then sends one of his servants to tell Jesus not to bother to come to his home. This might look like he was not interested in Jesus coming to his house. But his motives were pure and of the highest order. He had such great respect for Jesus that he didn’t even want to bother Jesus to come to his house. He knew that Jesus was the supreme authority of the land and was humbling himself before Jesus.
In Matthew, the word here for servant is pais, which mean child, boy, youth and can mean servant. In Luke, the word is doulos which refers to a slave. It makes sense that this person is an important and trusted slave in the household of the centurion.
This speaks well of the Centurion’s character. Slaves did not have much status. They were often mistreated but the Centurion is personally invested in the welfare of his servant.
The man is sick of the palsy. He is paralyzed and grievously tormented. He is in much pain.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
Jesus has no problem going to the home of a Gentile, even to the home of a leader of the occupying forces. He holds no grudge against Rome, her soldiers or her servants.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
This man knows what it means to yield authority. When his superiors give him commands, he responds, “Yes sir!” Now, he is making it clear that Jesus has the ability to command even sickness. He knows that whatever Jesus says will come to pass. This is tremendous.
He might have heard that Jesus was a great healer. In the immediately preceding miracle, Jesus touched the leper. At other times He spit and made a clay, or took the hand of the person that was healed. It would have been easy to think that His ability to heal was in some power that physically passed from His body into the body of another. But the Centurion knows better. This is very nearly recognition that Jesus is God in the flesh. Only God can control the details of a man at a distance.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Jesus marvels. He is amazed at the man’s response. He is amazed because of the level of faith exhibited. Furthermore, the faith of this Gentile puts to shame the response of Israel to Jesus. He has much greater faith than those who were supposedly waiting for the Messiah.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
As mentioned above, the Sermon on the Mount was a great hit, as were Jesus’s various miracles. As a result, great crowds followed him. But Jesus was a controversialist. He could not go many statements withtout saying things that really upset people, especially those in power.
Jesus takes another poke at them here but the stroke is broad enough that it catches some of his disciples, too.
Jesus has just healed a Roman soldier’s slave. He did so because the soldier asked and Jesus marveled at the soldier’s great faith. Jesus says that this is exactly the sort of thing that He is looking for, not the feigned faith of the children of the kingdom. He is contrasting two kingdoms that exist side by side, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of men. This point is made elsewhere in Scripture, not all Israel are Israel. Israel is the chosen son but not all those descended from him are chosen sons. Rather, those who have faith like Abraham are the true sons.
Jesus is pointing out that the false sons do not have faith in God. This is revealed by their bad fruit, their wicked deeds and even more particularly as they reject the Messiah, Jesus, Himself. Such unbelief will be thrown into the outer darkness.
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
The Centurion is a true son.
Matt. 8:14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
Jesus touched Peter’s mother-in-law to heal her. After she was healed, she served dinner.
16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Many were possessed with devils. The demons seemed to have a heyday in Israel. They were not afraid of the religious rulers or the scribes. But Jesus had authority and He bid them be gone and they were.
Jesus healed all that were sick.
He bore our iniquities and sicknesses by taking them away. The chief way He does this for us is by taking away our sins. We still struggle with sickness, health issues and all must pass through the trial of death. But the Christian life is also one of general health. There are exceptions to this rule based upon God’s own choices. But we should understand that Jesus wants us to healthy of soul, mind and body.
When I say that He wants us to be healthy of body, I do not mean we are to follow every food fad or exercise fad. We can be generally health by receiving His gifts of food and drink with thankfulness and working hard as He has called us to do.
Who is Jesus? How do you respond to Him?
You have to know who you are. You are sons of the kingdom, like many in Israel were. But you are now sons of God in the church of Jesus Christ. That is a good and glorious thing but by itself does not guarantee your seat in heaven.
The crowds who came to follow Jesus were sick and needy. As a result, they asked Him to help them and He did so. But the scribes and Pharisees thought of themselves as above the crowd. They did not think they needed healing and so they got none.
On many occasions, Jesus forgave sins immediately before or after healing someone. His point was that the forgiveness of sins is our big need. The forgiveness of sins also heals the body. But in order to be forgiven sins, one must realize the need for forgiveness. But to all that come to Jesus as a humble suppliant, He grants them His grace and mercy. So, we must identify with the sick, the needy, the foreigner, the demon possessed. In these stories, those people are the true faithful.
If you see this, your true need for Jesus, then you will be healed of soul, of mind and of body. But if you refuse to see this, confess to Him and repent of your sins, then you will be like the unbelieving Pharisees, chief priests and scribes whose place is the outer darkness.
Now, I also want to say that the Lord makes us strong through forgiveness. We do grow. We do become stalwart sons of God who stand fast. But we never stand fast on our own. We always stand fast by standing on the rock that is Christ. That is part of understanding your neediness. Your strength, health, vigor, growth in grace, comes from Jesus. You may grow strong but you will always need Jesus, need forgiveness. You will always be needy in that sense.