Morning worship on 24th April was led by Ian Middlemist who preached on the healing of the Centurion’s servant, Matthew chapter 8, verses 5-13. Luke shows us that Peter was encouraged to put his faith in Jesus Christ, but there was a wider audience – the Jewish people who looked on in amazement. It is a wonderful account which tells of a man’s difficult circumstances. We can put ourselves in his shoes; he is not Jewish – neither are we, we can see things are not going to plan, so we can relate.
Ian raised four points:
- Faith knows humility
- Faith understands authority and submission
- Faith is a gift
- Faith is unseeing.
Faith knows humility:
Verse 5 shows us that the centurion holds an important position of authority which has been given to him by the Roman Empire. He is a well-respected man who would have earned his position as a leader. He is in a position of authority. He is clearly a very considerate man who cares for the people he commands; when one of his servants came down with a terrible illness he is concerned for him, he was a valued member of the team. The centurion knew at this point of desperation who to turn to. Who do we turn to when things go wrong? Who is our first port of call? We should turn to the Lord in prayer. He is the only one who ultimately can help us. How do we approach God in prayer? We need to be careful. We are so used to the ‘I’ generation catering for our needs, we’re used to having things our way. This attitude can affect our prayer lives. We want things now, in a particular way. And when we don’t have it in our way we begin to complain. But this man is careful in how he approaches Christ. He comes in humility. We too need to come to the King of Kings, who has directed our lives thus far. Great faith comes in humility.
Faith understands authority and submission:
Great faith understands authority and submission. The centurion could command people. Most centurions would die in service, they would not face retirement. He would expect his subjects to have the same attitude. He would have had five times the pay of his soldiers. The Jewish people of the time wanted to see what Jesus was made of, they expected signs and miracles. Yet when He did this they did not accept it. When He spoke of true authority they accused Him of being blasphemous. Those who come to the Lord demanding evidence will never know Jesus and come to Him. The centurion had listened to the Word of Jesus. Jesus spoke with authority and power. We must submit to Jesus in all things. He has the power and authority. We are to entrust ourselves into His care. Are you trusting in Him today, in all aspects of your life?
Faith is a gift:
See the greatness of our God. He is going to expand the Kingdom out of Israel into the whole world so that all nations can come and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ themselves. The Gentiles were not expected to be sitting at this table with the nation of Israel. In Iran today that there are thousands of Muslims turning to Christ. We need to be careful how we speak of other nations. Jesus has been given authority over all nations. It is not good enough to just be a subject of the Kingdom, just an inheritor. Look at the condemnation they receive. If you are simply just an inheritor you will be thrown into the outer darkness. You need faith. It is not good enough to have a relation who is a Christian or to have been brought up in Sunday School. Faith is a gift and must be responded to.
Faith is unseeing:
Is distance a problem? Today Jesus is high, lifted up in heaven. Today we face problems – illness, the unwillingness of friends to respond to the Gospel. What Jesus does in this account is unseen. The sick person is far away but distance is not a problem in healing him. We want to see things happening. Be careful our faith is not a demand on God. The centurion did not demand from God. Praise God. This centurion was going to trust God even if the results were not seen. Think of all the works of God which are not seen. We may not see results of our prayers immediately. Faith is a God-given sight into who the Lord is. We need to be careful to praise Him, recognise His authority and submit to Him. It makes no difference what nation we come from, what background we are from. The power of Christ is eternal, a work of Salvation.