Summary: Everyone wants to tell us what real faith looks like. But what does the Bible say?
Passage: Matthew 8:1-13
Intro: We make it so complex, this thing we call the Christian life.
1. we come up with all kinds of plans for success, the TV guys tell us that if we do A and B we will get the reward of C.
2. we have secrets, power plans, ways to make the hand of God move for our benefit.
3. as if it were an unrevealed mystery.
4. God has told us again and again, with positive example and negative, what it is that He wants from us, what He is seeking. Here’s one:
5. we know the names of those who have trusted God: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, Daniel…
6. and here in Matthew 8, we run into two guys, nameless rejects in the society in which they lived, but full of faith.
7. and as we look at them, God will reveal to us once again what true faith looks like.
8. in addition, how absolutely central it is to God.
9. so first, what defines real faith?
I. Real Faith is Open to a Better Plan Than Mine
1. these first 4 verses tell a touching story.
2. following Jesus after the sermon was over was a large crowd.
3. “when he came down…” ties this event in time to Sermon on the Mount.
4. and if we remember back to chapter 4, we will be reminded that Jesus was the focus of a huge group of people looking to be healed.
PP Matthew 4:24-25.
5. These large crowds are in the context of a healing ministry.
6. so after the sermon, they once again followed him for the purpose of healing.
7. we may wonder how the man in v2 got so close to Jesus until we recognize the disease he had.
8. “leper” would be able to clear a path, even in such a crowd. Last thing they needed was leprosy in addition to their other sickness.
9. this disease, which we now know is caused by a bacteria, required several things of a person acc. to the OT
PP Leviticus 13:45-46 Quarantine!
10. here was a man defined by his disease, a humanly hopeless case.
11. but look what he says to Jesus: “You have the power if it is within your purpose for me.”
12. there is a beautiful submission in this wonderful statement of faith.
13. it is a recognition that God’s will might include my remaining in the condition I am in.
PP) great example, Joni Eareckson Tada, who broke her neck and is a quadraplegic. Of course the object of many attempts to demand healing. Does she look forward to heaven? Sure! Is she an effective servant of God. Absolutely! Is it God’s plan for her to be in that wheelchair? Apparently. And she is OK with that.
14. and that is faith.
15. faith trusts that the way God is working in my life is the best way.
16. I may ask Him to change things, and He might.
17. but my asking recognizes that His plan is the best plan, and resting in that.
Il) the person who lives with a chronic disease may well have more faith than the person who is healed.
18. be careful not to make this a new “secret way” to twist God’s arm.
19. it is a statement of submission, and that means it prefers God’s will, even if it not my will. I’d rather have God’s way than my way.
II. Real Faith Does Not Specify How God Should Act.
1. Here’s another guy rejected in the Jewish culture.
2. centurion in the Roman army, not a Jew, so not really welcome.
3. he came with a different problem, servant is paralyzed and suffering terribly.
4. v7, Jesus offers to do something a self- respecting Jew would not do.
5. like touching the leper in v3, Jesus offers to go to his house. (complete identification with sinners)
6. many scholars think it was a question, but the purpose is the same.
7. this was a huge no-no in the culture.
8. in fact, the early church, even after Pentecost, wrestled with this question.
PP Acts 11:1
9. but look at the response! This really caught Jesus’ attention!
10. I believe in you, and you don’t have to perform to make me believe. Just say the word, just command from here, and it will happen.
11. then he gives this example from his own military experience.
12. I am under authority, and others are under mine.
13. I don’t have to be there to see my orders carried out. My word is enough.
15. this faith amazed Jesus, best He had ever seen! Why?
16. centurion didn’t require Jesus to perform according to a formula or some preconceived idea of what Jesus would or should do.