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1Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
2And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
4And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
10And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick.
As we look at this centurion’s story tonight, I want us to attempt to recognize from this passage some elements of marvelous faith, the kind of faith that causes our Lord to even be amazed and marvel at. There are a number of references in the scripture where this happened on different occasions, and sometimes he said, “I have not seen such great faith, not in all of Israel have I seen such faith as this.” Usually it is faith that is coming from the heart of an outsider, in a sense, like this centurion. Someone who is a Gentile, who is not Jew by religion and by faith or by birth or nationality. I want us to look at this story tonight, because I think it shows us the way to understand what marvelous faith is really like.
The first thing I’d like you to notice about this man is that he heard about Jesus. Sometimes it is very difficult for some people to get a handle on any kind of biblical knowledge, religious faith or anything of that sort. But here is a man, even though he was in the military, who evidently when he began to hear about Jesus, began to take it to heart, his understanding must have been opened. He began to enlarge his mind and his heart, hearing about Jesus and his teachings and what Jesus was saying and doing. The way he was healing and performing miracles and all these things seem to sink down deep in his heart producing some kind of faith. After all, the Bible does teach us that faith cometh by hearing, hearing the word of God. That is the greatest source of faith – going to the word of God, hearing the word of God, really opening up our hearts and minds to what Jesus has said and what he has done and what his word tells us. Sometimes we want to have faith in somebody else’s faith or faith in somebody else’s prayer. That’s all right to a certain extent, but that deeper kind of faith that this man had comes from hearing the story of Jesus and hearing of him and about him. As he just began to hear his words and he heard about what he was doing, something began to work in his own life and in his heart. He opened his heart to it and faith began to rise up. So much so that when he had a servant that he loved very dearly, this servant was very sick and even coming down to the point of death. He was just ready to die. He sent to Jesus because he became tremendously burdened and concerned about his servant. That in itself is an attitude that gives us some clue to understanding this man and his personality and how he was made up. To have compassion and understanding of the suffering of a servant. Some people may have said, “well, I’ll get another servant, I’ll get someone else,” but not in this case. He was deeply concerned about the person who worked for him, who served him. He had this sense of appreciation and respect for the work that this person did for him. I think that is one of the greatest qualities any person could have, is a sense of appreciation for the work that other people do, and the things that they do to help us and to share with us in our own lives and whatever they bring to us in the way of encouragement or whatever. The sense of concern and appreciation.
The next thing I’d like you to notice about him was that he used mediators to send to Jesus. We will find out the reason for that mainly a little later on. But he appealed to the elders of the Jews. He undoubtedly knew enough about the Jewish religion to have respect and honor for the elders and for what was going on, even in the synagogue, because we will find out later that he had done many things for the nation of the Jews as a nation and had built them a synagogue. Here was a man who was generous in his heart and open to what God was doing in the world through the Jewish religion. He had opened his heart to it.
I think when people open their heart toward God and what he is doing in this world, they are really preparing a place in their lives for God to work in a miraculous way. That indeed becomes an investment in the work of God. You will remember that beautiful Old Testament story of the great woman of Shunem as she is called, who prepared an extra room on her house and furnished it for the prophet and built a prophet’s chamber so that when the prophet Elisha would come by he would have a place to rest. He could turn in there. He could be fed and he could rest. He had a bed and he had a little desk and a chair. That’s about all a prophet needs, I suppose, in a room. A little study and a place to rest. It paid off. The day came when through the miraculous word of the prophet, the woman who was barren had a child. And later on, a miracle of healing to raise that child from the dead. What an investment! People who open up their hearts to what God is doing and then it comes back to pay off for them, someway, somehow.
So, he honored the work through the Jews and he honored the Jewish elders themselves. He asked them if they would please go as a mediator and ask Jesus to heal this servant. It reminds me of our own position because we have the one and only mediator between us and God, our great high priest the Lord Jesus. When we really want to get through to him, when we want to reach the throne and get to the Father, we know that we can come to this intercessor, this mediator, and he will hear us and he will bring our petitions right into the throne room of the Almighty God. Amen! Because he ever liveth, the Bible says, to make intercession. You know, we Pentecostals have tremendous advantage if we just could understand it fully. That is we have this great intercessor between us and the Heavenly Father and we have the Holy Spirit who prays within us, the intercessor from within and the intercessor between us and the Father. Who could want anything more than that in order to be able to get in touch with God and understand his word and understand his will when you’ve got all that access to the very throne of grace itself? Amen!
So he used these intercessors, and the elders were glad to do this because they honored this man for his attitude and for what he had done, his great contributions. They went to intercede with Jesus. Immediately, they started talking to Jesus about this man’s worthiness. They said, “Now, Lord, this man is worthy for you to answer his request. If it ever was anybody whose request should be heard and paid attention to, now Jesus, this man is the one, because he has been a champion for our country and for our nation. He loveth our nation and he has built us a synagogue. He has sent money. He has helped provide a place where the word of God could be read and people could be taught and trained to understand about God.” They said he loves the Jewish nation.
Well, as they were giving the speech of his worthiness (I’m not sure what we’ve got breaking in on us tonight but there seems to be some voices coming. I’m not sure who’s doing the speaking, but we haven’t had that to happen here in a long time. I don’t know if you heard it or not, but on the monitors I’m hearing probably a cd or something coming in. I don’t think it’s the Lord; I think he doesn’t sound quite that way.) They extolled this man’s worthiness. What a recommendation! Lord, you need to pay attention to this man and his request. But their attitude and the way they handled the situation is in vivid contrast to the way the man really was and the way he felt. They knew how to sort of twist someone’s arm. These elders of Israel, they knew how to prevail upon somebody. But the centurion, he didn’t feel that way. He didn’t try to press his need before the Lord Jesus.
I want you to look at him and his great sense of unworthiness and humility. Because the Bible says that Jesus just turned and went right with them, you would’ve thought, well they really sold him on this important man and his request. And here he goes with them for the child to be healed, the servant to be healed. When they came fairly close to the man’s house, he sent them word. He said, “Don’t trouble yourself, Lord.” Now when somebody says to Jesus, “Lord,” he recognizes the authority and power of the Son of God and that comes up here very strongly in this passage. Trouble not yourself. You don’t have to put yourself out to come to me because really Lord I am not worthy for you to come under my roof. Now that’s a whole different approach than what the elders had said. They had been building him up and saying how worthy he is, but out of his own heart is this spirit of humility that says, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to even walk in under my roof.” He continued. He said not only that, but look here in verse six, “I am not worthy.” Verse seven, “I myself am not worthy to come under you.”
Here is a man who has such reverence and he has such humility and such a sense of unworthiness until he does not presume to step into the presence of the Son of God and say you’re obligated to me in any respect. Oh my God, I want to tell you that’s part of the elements of having marvelous faith. You don’t approach Jesus Christ with the idea, you owe this to me. I know the Bible teaches us to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy to help in the time of need, but the only reason we’re invited to do that is because we are coming through Jesus and his name and his authority, that that is the only place we get our boldness. It is because of what he has done and who he is and we are coming in his name. Not because of ourselves.
He said I am not worthy to have you come into my house, neither was I worthy to come to you in person. Out of a heart of such humility and reverence for God, he said you just say in a word and my servant shall be healed. Just speak the word. Oh Lord, here is a man who is putting his faith and his trust in the word of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will turn and walk on the word. It reminds us of that story of the nobleman when Jesus said, “Go your way. Your son liveth.” And he didn’t say, how do I know or how can I be sure. What kind of a sign? He just turned and walked on the word of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to tell you folks the bottom line of faith is coming right down to that place where we understand what Jesus’s word is and we stand on it and we walk on it. We obey him in reverence. We obey in humility and we just walk and stand on his word. That’s marvelous faith. That’s the foundation for marvelous faith. Say it in a word, Lord. Say it in a word.
This sounds a very solemn note to me. Sometimes we can be shallow and frivolous about our relationship to the Lord. And perhaps may not use as much reverence and respect as we ought. Here is a man who shows us what it’s like to just believe that if Jesus says it, that’s good enough. As a result, he talked a little further to state his reasons. He said, “for I’m a man of authority and I have authority over me and I have people under me and I have authority over them. I know what it’s like to look to people who are over me and their authority and to observe it. Then I have soldiers and I can say to one, ‘you go yonder,’ and he goes. I can say to another, ‘you come,’ and he comes. I can say to one servant you do this or that and they do it. I understand authority. I understand that authority comes when you speak and you expect people to absolutely respect it and obey it.” He understood the authority of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
I pray that the Lord will enlighten our hearts tonight and our minds. That when you are acting in the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, you can expect great things to happen. When you recognize his authority, then you know he has all power over circumstances and opposition and everything that comes up to try to destroy you and challenge your faith. Because, in these days we are constantly being tried. Regardless of who says what, when you operate in the authority and word of Jesus Christ, you can stand and you don’t have to be afraid. Praise God, you can have victory in your life, because that kind of faith works in his sight.
So Jesus marveled. He had been so accustomed to people who say, “show us a sign.” People expressing doubt. People just agitating and criticizing and attacking him on every kind of a little point. But to hear a man say, “I recognize your authority and I know that your authority covers even the sickness of my servant.” A man who exhibits more reverence, more honor, more faith, more respect for the authority of Jesus Christ than he has found in Israel completely. Could it be that when we bring our petitions to him that he looks down in our hearts at our attitude? Could it be that he examines us to see if there is respect for his authority? Could he be looking for our sense of unworthiness in our humility?
I know that there are some popular messages that go forth these days, some would lead us that you just sort of walk in and demand whatever you want. But I see from stories like this in the Bible that the people who really got what they needed and wanted from Christ, they did it on the basis of his mercy and his love and compassion and not on the basis of demanding. Jesus said I haven’t seen such faith as this in all the whole religious system of the Jewish nation. And they that were sent returned to the house and found the servant whole who had been sick. The word of Jesus Christ.
Now let me leave this message with you in conclusion. If Jesus speaks the word in your case tonight, it will be done. If Jesus comes to your life where you are right now and he says that word, I don’t know what that word may be. It may be like we sang, it may be a word of peace. It may be a word of power and provision, protection, all kinds of things. But when he says the word for you, for me, it is done.
How many of you have had him speak words of deliverance for you at times? Would you testify by raising your hand? Oh, hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Oh, Hallelujah!
I could go on to talk about his authority and that he is Lord of our lives, but I think enough has been said tonight. Here are the elements of marvelous faith: a burden and concern about someone’s need, taking that case to the Father, through our mediator and intercessor our Lord Jesus Christ, at the same time having a great sense of unworthiness which is just another way of saying humility before the will of God to obey him, and then acting upon the word of the Lord. That is marvelous faith!
I want to tell you on the authority of this word that I’ve brought to you tonight that whatever your need may be, it may be for someone else, it may be for someone in your family, a loved one, a friend, it may be for your own personal need that you are struggling with, I want us in this closing prayer to bring that need before the Throne of Grace. Join me in prayer.
“Our Father, thank you for your holy word. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for your power. Thank you for the great spirit of light and life and joy and love in this place tonight. We stand upon the rock. We stand upon your word. We stand in your presence and we give you honor and glory and praise. For thou art worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, blessing. Oh, hallelujah! We bring the needs of this congregation. We want you to speak the word, Lord. Whisper sweet peace to somebody’s heart tonight. Bring the word of consolation. Bring the word of joy. Bring the word of your power, Lord. Speak the word to our hearts tonight. Oh, hallelujah!
[Message in tongues given.] Interpretation: “For I am aware of your heartache this night, saith the Lord. But in the valley of your distress, listen for My voice. Look for My hand. Stand in My presence. Breathe in My word and receive divine help from me this night, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
Hallelujah. Let’s come together for our closing prayer.
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