Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that we can know the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ through what has been revealed to us in God's Word. Praise God that Mediator King Christ has been given all authority in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. (Matthew 28:18, Philippians 2:9,10)
Confess your sin of not fully comprehending the authority and power of Christ, and so not praying accordingly. Pray for the Holy Spirit's help in mulling on this, and then pray that he would enable you to own what you have learned.
Let's read Luke 7:6-10. - A deep faith!
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
V6. What does Jesus do?
Yesterday we witnessed a number of the Jewish elders from the synagogue in Capernaum approach Jesus on behalf of a Roman centurion, a gentile, possibly a Jewish proselyte, a man who may have come to faith in Christ. Their request was simple but earnestly made. 'Please come and see this man's servant who is in a paralyzed state and dying.'
How does Jesus respond? Well, it is obvious that he would. Isn’t it? Jesus didn't always respond to the requests of people. There were occasions when people wanted him to do things, and he didn't. Luke 4:43. There were times when his disciples implied that he should not do things, but he didn't consent. John 11:8. Sometimes his mother and brothers wanted him to act, and he declined. Mark 3:20,31ff. We cannot second guess what Jesus was going to do because he was operating under the direction of his Father in heaven, and God's ways are not our ways. That is why we need to be careful at times when presuming how a brother or sister in Christ might act. Yes, sometimes their actions may be motivated by selfish and sinful desires, but Christ does lead his flock, and there are times when the believer will do things, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, in their lives, which may not always make sense to us. So, we need to take care and be slow to speak.
V6. Please don't come to my home!
As Jesus makes his way through the streets of Capernaum to the centurion's house, what happens? Obviously, word got back to the centurion that Jesus was on his way. So, why does the centurion send his friends to stop Jesus? Has he changed his mind? Far from it. In his humility, he doesn't see himself as being worthy of having Jesus in his home. Then, there is the issue of Jesus being exposed to the uncleanness of a gentile home, which is no small thing, especially for a Jewish rabbi. So, the centurion's thinking is wholly centered around Jesus. A man of genuine humility. One who doesn't see himself as being worthy, even though the Jewish elders, who had gone to Jesus on his behalf, clearly thought he was.
How then did the centurion think Jesus was going to heal his servant? The answer is astonishing. He expected Jesus to heal the man from where he was, by just saying a word. He really did expect Jesus to heal his servant without seeing, touching, or doing anything to the man. All Jesus would need to do would be to say a word, and his servant would be healed. Where on earth did this man get such a thought? Well, he tells us, and he does so probably because he didn't want Jesus to think that he was presumptuous in saying what he did. Yet again, he is thinking of Jesus and how he might think and respond. He wants to put Jesus in the best place possible in their interaction. They call this 'emotional intelligence' now. It involves thinking about how the other person might respond and framing what you have to say so as not to hurt or offend them unnecessarily. It's not a gift, but an attitude of the mind, arising from the humility of the heart – something every professing believer should have. Philippians 2:3ff. When the centurion looked at Jesus, he didn't just see a captivating teacher, a breathtaking miracle worker; he saw what was behind these things, namely Jesus' authority and power. He saw the reason why Jesus was able to do what he could. This is about the centurion's understanding of who Jesus is, which in turn leads him to conclude that Jesus just has to say the word, and it will be done.
Now, let's stop and process that a little. This man has evidently thought about Jesus. He has observed Jesus; he has heard about Jesus; but his thinking concerning Jesus isn't just at a surface, face-value level; no, he has given some serious thought to who Jesus is. He has applied his analytical skills and allied them with his understanding of how things get done; he has worked out what it is about Jesus which enables him to do what he is doing. The fact that this centurion serves under authority, and also exercises authority over others, helps him process this. He knows what it is to receive orders and respond without hesitation, and equally, he knows how to give orders and expect them to be done without hesitation. What is convicting, though, is not just the fact that this man took the time and applied himself to understand who Jesus is; it's his belief that Jesus can exercise his authority and power in an apparently impossible way. Except for a few isolated incidents, involving the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha, 1 Kings 17:17-24, 2 Kings 4:31-37 and 2 Kings 13:20-21, this type of authority and power had never been seen in the world before. So, this man is not only grasping something that Jesus' disciples are not getting; he is then making belief-based requests upon it. He is thinking and believing far beyond the normal because of his grasp of who Jesus is. I mean, who would ever have thought that Jesus could do such a thing, even if you had seen or heard about his direct person to person contact. This is a measure of belief in Jesus' spoken word that many Christians would struggle to lay hold of today.
This is very convicting on two levels. First, the fact that the man thought through who Jesus is, and second, what he did with that information. In God's providence, he has led us into a consideration of who Jesus is in our public worship on the Lord's Day. I trust you will take the time to think about what he is bringing to us. Listening, a second or third time, to the sermons to help you grasp what this man saw so clearly, would be no bad thing. It is essential that we understand who Jesus is, the authority he possesses and the power he exercises. Of course, any understanding must lead to greater belief in the power of his word, and impact how we pray. The clearer our understanding of who Jesus is, the more humbly-expectant our prayers will be. The more we can grasp these things, then the more we will see God work among us.
V9. Look at his faith!
What does Jesus do? There are only two occasions when Jesus marvelled at people. Here, and in Mark 6:6 when he marvelled at the unbelief of the people in his home town of Nazareth. There are only two recorded incidents in the New Testament where Jesus praises the faith of a person. This is one, and in Matthew 15:21-28, when he sees the faith of the Canaanite woman. In his marvelling, what is the next thing Jesus does? Picture it. Jesus is on his way to the town's Roman centurion. A well known and respected man in the community. Yes, maybe a Jewish proselyte, but a gentile nonetheless, working in the pay of the oppressor, albeit possibly seconded to work for Herod Antipas. He's going to heal the man's dying servant. Then he stops and has this conversation with the centurion's friends. On hearing what they have to say, he turns round to the crowd and speaks. His words are both startling in their brevity and staggering in their import. "I tell you,” - in other words, listen – “not even in Israel have I found such faith." Note, Jesus is not saying that he has found no faith in Israel. It is the degree of faith found that he is commenting on.
So, what word does Jesus use to heal the man? We are not told. Luke simply tells us that the centurion's friends got back to his home and found that the servant was well. He had been healed. No more paralysis due to whatever the illness was, and no more imminent death. The point is to look at the centurion, at his humility, understanding, faith, and his resulting trust-based request. Surely there are things we can learn from this man.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 27D. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
'Hiding' the Word of God in your heart will bless you in ways you will never expect.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him."
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 45 - Which is the first commandment?
Answer - The first commandment is: You shall have no other gods before me.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you find proof texts.
Thank God that we can come to an understanding of who Jesus is, that is, his authority and power. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pursue that knowledge and gain a fuller understanding so that you can pray accordingly.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley