Summary: Every story in the Bible is loaded with Spiritual lessons for us today. In the story, an unlikely man ask Jesus to do an unlikely thing and Jesus responded in an unlikely way.
A Simple Story with Spiritual lessons
* Jesus was a master story-teller. In fact, some of His greatest stories are called ‘parables’ which simply defined is, ‘an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.’ Yet, the greatest stories we can read and know are like the one we just read.
* For context consider this, at the end of Chapter 7 Jesus concludes the “Sermon on the Mount”, comes down off the mountain &, in the words of David Murrow, completes the first stage of His earthly life as a man. This stage is the “Journey of Submission.” As chapter 8 begins, He walks the second stage which is the “Journey of Strength”. On this leg of the journey, Jesus demonstrates for all men the concept of HOW TO BE A MAN! Chapter 8 opens with Him being confronted by a case of leprosy – and the disease lost. Now, He’s being confronted with another disease – paralysis. However, this time the story is a bit more complicated as there are many lessons to see and learn from this encounter.
* Let’s begin with the setting. Scripture tells us this was in Capernaum which is located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum was a bustling town on a trade route. Additionally, there was a military presence there as noted from this man’s title “Centurion”. Having lived in military towns for much of my adult life, I can say, that military town are difference than other places. Candidly, a military town is a ‘happening place’. There are always new folks moving in, new businesses starting up, and some of the greatest people on earth are those (and their families) who have committed to serve their country. It was in this time of community that this encounter took place. Watch how it developed and then, join me, in learning some not-so-apparent lessons from this story.
1. An Unexpected Approach – Scripture says that it was in Capernaum that a ‘Centurion’ came to Jesus. Never forget that a Centurion a Roman officer and was in charge of 100 men (and staff). He was accustomed to people obeying him. In the military obedience is crucial or you may die. He didn’t have to repeat himself or ever beg someone to respond & yet here he is, ‘pleading’ with Jesus. Think about this, a Roman officer --pleading. KJV renders this ‘beseeching’ while the original language means to call, invoke, or implore. Candidly, the construction of the word leads one to believe this was an animated request. Come. It occurs to me that, too often, we wait until things get desperate before we animated before the Lord asking, begging, and pleading for His help.
* By the way, this Roman Officer seems to be appreciated among people in Capernaum. In Luke 7 we are told he “loved Israel & has invested in us.”
\* And now, here is this Centurion – standing in front of the one to whom the Roman Government hated and pleading for the healing of a servant. This Officer didn’t come on behalf of himself, a sick wife, or a dying child; he was there on behalf of a servant. Perhaps this speaks to the servant’s importance or maybe to the Centurion’s heart, but one thing is for sure; few people would have expected this from Him. Yet, there he stood.
* Consider a couple of questions: When troubles hit you in the face, would people be surprised to see you standing in front of Jesus asking for help? Would this be expected of you or expected? What about when troubles come to those around you? Would you or do you come to Jesus with those people’s need? And if so, how much faith & trust do you have?
2. An Undesired Affliction – (I guess this could be argued – ‘as opposed to a ‘desired affliction?’’) Simply to read about the words about this servant strikes fear in the hearts of healthy people. Paralysis is a horrendous affliction. In 1974, as a minister of music I would come into my office each morning, grab my clarinet (which was no good on) and play a scale, a hymn, a chorus, or something. This was just to help me remember how to play the thing. I will never forget the morning I put the instrument to my mouth and the right side of my mouth would not work. The diagnosis was ‘bell’s palsy’. The paralysis was frightening and that was just in the face. This servant had more than facial paralysis and needed healing.
* While meditating over this servant’s dilemma, it occurred some of the many ways we can experience paralysis. First, there is physical paralysis. The reasons can be disease, injury, birth defect, and even stroke. The cause doesn’t matter because EVERY ISSUE of PARALYSIS is major. This means that the victim is not able to perform the physical things which they would want and enjoy. Next, there is social paralysis. Have you ever met someone who has deep issues with being social? I’m not talking about simple ‘shyness’, certainly that carries some personal issues, but rather, I’m speaking of the person who, for one reason or another, CANNOT function in any societal encounter. The experts tell us that several emotional conditions contribute to this (I.E. depression, bipolar, & the like) Next, there is emotional paralysis. This is the person who has problems forming new relationship (& keeping up with long-term relationships) Perhaps they have been abandoned, abused, or even assaulted, but whatever happened they are now functioning in their own little private world. Finally, I suggest there is spiritual paralysis. This one can be from lack of exercise & activity. We are told to train, exercise, & stay active in our spiritual life, when we don’t, we become lethargic.