GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus
Jesus now transitions from His Sermon on the Mount, with all the directions, exposure of the Counterfeit and their destruction, and commendation of the life of disciples who have chosen the narrow way, and life which is eternal in its promise and joy. Now, Jesus moves from this venue to traveling through the country and communities in Galilee. The focus moves to his ability to heal the sick, and how it instructs us about faith in the Kingdom.
Matthew 8:5-13 5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6“LORD,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” 7Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” 8The centurion replied, “LORD, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”13Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
1. The Message of Jesus Verified by Healing. There is a transition in the message of the Bible with the ministry of Jesus. The Old Testament had visible manifestations of God’s blessings and judgment – in the prosperity or demise of Israel and Judah, in physical wealth and prosperity, and, for sure, in health and healing. For example, long life was a blessing from God. By contrast, leprosy was a visible manifestation of the curse of God. Therefore, for Jesus to first heal the leper (Matthew 8:1-4), based on his simple faith in Jesus, was both an acknowledgment of Jesus’ authority from heaven and the warning to not tell anyone – given that the pace and message of Jesus and his message was to focus ultimately on the cross, not as a conquering Messiah who had supernatural abilities to overthrow the occupying Romans who ruled Israel during this first century. Even so, the message is there – Jesus healed the leper, tied to the message of Moses and the predicted Messiah.2. The Centurion – No Greater Faith in All of Israel.The Outsider who has Entrance into the Kingdom. This is an amazing story of a non-Jew, a man in authority, who, on behalf of the love of a child of his staff, seeks out Jesus for healing of the boy. It is the breadth of this faith that is most telling – love and affection for a child in his home, a humility that he is not worth to ask more of Jesus, and a faith and trust so unlimited – ‘just say the word’ – that Jesus proclaims this as the greatest of faith in Israel.
3. The Warning to Those Without Faith. This Insiders who will be Excluded from the Kingdom. No sooner do we revel in the faith of this man do we also hear of the warning again of those who are Counterfeit. These insiders, Jews in high standing, places of honor in the religious hierarcy, ranking Jews, will never be received into heaven, will be cast out with weeping and gnashing of teeth. What a sober contrast. The ones considered ‘outsiders’ with commendation and reward in heaven, and the ‘insiders’, who will never enjoy the fruit of their Jewish heritage. What is the difference? It is faith – all defining – faith that first believes the message and Person of Jesus, and then, looking to the redemptive work of the cross, continues In faith and devotion.
Hebrews 1:1-3 1In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
This cannot be better said. Blessings on you this week and in your faith-journey, which is the greatest joy until we see Him face to face. Stay well.
— John Moore