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We are looking at another miracle worked by the Lord Jesus.
THE STORY AS IT HAPPENED
Let’s first get the facts of the story in line. The same incident is also recorded in Mat. 8:5-13. Reading the two accounts together, it appears that at first the Centurion sent a group of Jewish leaders (elders) to Jesus to implore Him to come over and heal his seriously sick slave. Jesus agreed and accompanied them. As they were drawing near to the house, a number of the Centurion’s friends, met up with Jesus and His group. They conveyed a further message from the Centurion that it was not necessary for Jesus to come to his home Himself, but that He could just speak a few words of authority and the sick slave would be healed. Then the Centurion himself arrived and spoke to Jesus, confirming the message that he had sent through his friends.
THE CENTURION: HIS FAITH AND LIFESTYLE
This man was an important civil servant, a commander over 100 soldiers, a man with power, social status and respected by the community.
He was also a deeply religious person. He believed in the God of Israel, even though he was not an Israelite. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him the truth of Scripture, and he believed it. He understood that there was just one God and was willing to serve Him, although he was not granted to enjoy the religious privileges of the Jews.
His belief was reflected in his deeds. Many civil servants these days misuse their position to see how much they can get from the public. They rob the people they are meant to serve and protect. Therefore some members of the public fear a police officer instead of feeling safe when he is around. This centurion did not try to enrich himself from the community but rather, he used his riches to build a church for them. People who love God enjoy sharing out of their plenty, but selfish people try to grab as much as possible for themselves.
Not only did this official love the people of his community, but also his own servants, and when one of them was seriously ill, near to death, he did all in his power to get him to the right doctor so that his life could be spared.
He also did not only believe in God the Father, but also in Jesus, the Son of God who came in the the stature of a man, to free mankind of their suffering. So deep and sincere were his convictions, that he confessed his belief unashamedly in public, without considering what others would think of him. Listen to what he says: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For 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.” (Mat. 8:8,9) Thus he saw Jesus as the Son of God and as a great king who had the authority to command sickness to depart from people, that they should have health instead. He believed Jesus had authority in the unseen spirit world, where other people could not exercise influence. He had greater faith than most people born and brought up as Jews.
THIS HEATHEN HAD MORE FAITH THAN THE ISRAEL “BELIEVERS”
What was Jesus’ reaction? Firstly He was surprised that a heathen could have so much faith in Him. He used him as an example to shame the Jews who were following Him. He said that although He had traveled all over the land had met thousands of people belonging to God’s chosen race, Israel, He had not found such powerful faith anywhere among them. Here was a man who had grown up as a heathen but had put his full trust in Jesus, the Son of God!
It was a fact that could not be denied. Many of the people who were with Jesus had been following Him for a long time. They had traveled with Him all over the land on foot and had witnessed many miracles He had done. They had seen how the blind were given sight, people with leprosy healed, also five little loaves of bread and two small fish multiplied to feed 5000 people, but in spite of that their faith was still so weak. Their lives were like cans that a woman was filling with water from dawn to dusk, but, by the evening when she was thirsty and wanted to pour herself a cupful, she discovered that they were all empty for they had been leaking out all the water she had toiled so hard to pumped into them and now she had nothing to take home to her family – she was returning home with a wheelbarrow full of empty cans. What a disappointment.
DO SOME OF US ALSO HAVE LEAKING HEARTS MY BROTHER AND SISTER?
Is it not so with some of us as well? There are those who for years have been members of some or other church, have walked a long way with Jesus and have received streams of living water, of knowledge, from God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation; members who have read of all the miracles that Jesus did and even experienced some miracles in their own lives. Many times they had been sick and He had healed them. When they were hungry, He had provided food, and when they had needed money He had sent someone to help them. He had fed their faith with evidence of His overflowing mercy and yet there is very little faith retained in their hearts. Why is this? Can it be that their hearts were not open enough to receive faith, or are they like cracked containers that so quickly lose the faith and proof of God’s goodness they have received? Do they have leaking hearts?
WE RECEIVE ACCORDING TO OUR FAITH!
Jesus turned to the centurion and saying: “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” (Mat. 8:13). He did not say to him: “I am healing your servant.”, but: “Let it be to you as you believe”.
If He would say to me now: “Let it be to you as you believe”, how much would I receive? If you find yourself in a rural area where everyone has to go to a central pump to draw water, and you arrive there with a container like a small teacup, you would go home with very little water, but if you took with you a large can, you would take home enough water to provide for the needs of the whole family. What are we expecting from God? Our expectations determine the amount we receive.
BELIEVERS ARE RECEIVERS AND RECEIVERS ARE REJOICERS (THE OTHERS ARE MOANERS)
Let’s end this story. The centurion believed that Jesus would heal his servant, and when he arrived home, he was in fact healed. That which he believed, he received. His faith was rewarded. He was not left shamed in any way.