When God Responds

matt 8 8

Matthew 8:5-10

When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

In Matthew 8, Jesus is recorded as miraculously healing several distinct individuals that represent three classification of people who were viewed with lesser status in Jewish eyes. The first is a leper, who is considered unclean for a Jewish man to touch (vv. 1-4). Next is a servant of a Roman centurion, who was a Gentile foreigner and likely part of the oppressive Roman Empire, which Jews considered to be their enemy (vv. 5-13). Lastly, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (vv. 14-15), which is unique as women were not looked upon with much recognition or significance in Jewish society. In addition, the passage also reveals that Jesus healed numerous other people who were demon-possessed around Capernaum as well (vv. 16-17).

In verses 5-10 when Jesus is approached by the centurion, he concedes to the centurion’s request to come and heal his servant. Jesus’ agreement to come to the centurion’s home is quite a startlingly turn of events in this passage as a Jewish person would be deemed ceremonially unclean if they entered the house of a Gentile (cf. Jn 18:28; Acts 10:28). But nevertheless, Jesus humbly agrees to go and heal the man (vv. 5-7).

But the centurion replies quickly to Jesus expressing his “unworthiness” for Jesus to make the effort to come to his house. Rather, the centurion reveals a keen understanding of Jesus’ authority to speak with the power of God. The centurion explains that he knows what authority means because he speaks, and someone obeys, and the task is accomplished. In the same way, he claims that Jesus only needs to speak the “word,” and according to the authority of his “word,” the centurion’s servant will be healed (v. 8).

This proclamation amazes Jesus because the centurion understood the power and authority of God that Jesus represented. And in response to the centurion’s understanding of this reality, Jesus declares, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith” (v. 10). What an unsuspecting pronouncement—that Jesus would confess such a great faith from this Gentile that superseded any he had seen in all of Israel. The emphasis here is that even a Gentile, who was not considered a member of God’s people, will see the power of God at work when they trust in Jesus, God’s Anointed.

What the passage can teach us is that God’s power flows in response to the exercising of faith (trust) in God as the source of all power and in Jesus as God’s Messiah. If we want to see God’s power at work in our lives, it begins by recognizing that God moves when we believe and trust in him, knowing that he is able to do even what may seem impossible in our eyes. Our trust in God doesn’t make God move; rather, God responds when we trust in him. And we must also trust in his character—that he responds as the good and loving God that we know he is.

-Jerry Wierwille

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What is Jesus Doing These Days?

Ephesians 1-3

ephesians 1

Wednesday, June 28

God is eternal in both directions, past and future.  He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and the only God there is.  Jesus received all his power and knowledge from God and he had a beginning.  Jesus is not God.  That is very clear to me for many reasons we will not talk about in this devotion.  However, I have always tried to figure out what Jesus’ role is today.  I have heard very different opinions about his authority and power.  I have heard some say he is our king today and others have said he will be our king in the future.  Should we pray to Jesus or only to God?  Can Jesus forgive our sins?  Should we worship Jesus?  The answers to these questions cannot be explained by me in a few paragraphs and I cannot even say I am totally clear myself how it all works, but I am going to point to some scripture that will help to answer some of the questions.

Ephesians 1:19-22 says,”…These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.  And He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church…”  Christ was put in a place of authority, power, and dominion FAR above everybody else when he ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God.  This already happened so he is already in a great position of power and authority over all of us.

Does Christ use that power today?  In Matthew 11:27, Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.”  He follows that up in verse 28 by telling the weary and heavy-laden to come to him and he will give them rest.  He doesn’t tell them to go to God, Jesus says to come to him.  He clearly is willing to play an active role in our lives today.  This doesn’t mean God is not in the picture, in fact, Ephesians 2:18 says that through Christ we have access to the Father.  And again, all of this authority and power came from God in the first place.

In Mark 2:1-10, Jesus forgave the sins of a paralytic and the scribes started wondering the same thing that some still wonder today.  They thought only God alone could forgive sins.  Jesus let them know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.  Interestingly, this was obviously before he ascended to heaven that he already had the authority to forgive sins.

Philippians 2:9-11 states that God highly exalted Jesus, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  The definition of lord is master, which means Jesus is our master.  He is the head of the church, which I believe is not just a title, but an indication that he is very involved in the church today.

This is far from an exhaustive study on this topic, but it is clear to me that Jesus is not on the same level as man these days and he is active in our lives if we want him to be.  He is also not on the same level as God, and God is still involved in our lives as well.  I will continue to search the scripture for more answers on this topic, but I think what I have covered in this devotion is a pretty good start.

-Rick McClain