Summary: I want us to learn from Jesus as he interacts with a man with great success-- a Roman Centurion!
B. Dody Gadient, a school-teacher for thirteen years, decided to travel across America and see the sights she had been teaching about. Traveling alone in a pick-up with a travel trailer in tow she launched out on her great adventure. One afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento, California in rush-hour traffic, her water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping. After waiting awhile, a huge Harley drove up driven by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard, and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and without even glancing at Dody, went to work on the truck. Within five minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached a tow chain to the frame of Dody’s disabled truck and whisked the whole rig off the freeway onto a side street where he calmly continued to work on the water pump. The intimidated, middle-aged school teacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the paralyzing words on the back of his leather jacket – “Hell’s Angels – California”. As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say; “Thanks so much,” and carried on a brief conversation. Noticing her surprise with the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and said; “Never judge a book by it’s cover…” With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck. Straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he’d come.
C. Have you ever judged someone by their appearance? Sure you have– and often, it is all too easy to look down on those who seem to be less fortunate and critical of those who seem to have more than us.
D. Today, as we continue our series, “How to Treat Others”, I’d like to talk about a people group that we often don’t talk about in church. I want to talk about How to Treat those who are Successful in life.
E. What is your immediate response toward those who have obviously made it big in our culture? What is your immediate reaction to those in fine clothes, fancy cars, fabulous houses, and fantastic positions?
F. I think many head toward one of two extremes..... First, many lash out in complete jealousy. We live in a society that loves to complain about the “Rich getting richer!” That’s a response of jealousy. But that’s not surprising. James tells us, “16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” Others cower with intimidation & are afraid to interact.
G. Today, I want us to learn from Jesus as he interacts with a man with great success-- a Roman Centurion!
H. Centurion: (The man in our story today had Great Leadership, Great Position, Great Responsibility, Great Wealth He was a man of Great Success). This centurion was a career military person who was in charge of 100 men. Centurions were the military backbone throughout the empire maintaining discipline and executing orders. This man was a hard worker who excelled through the military system– success.
I. Matthew 8:5-13.... “5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The 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. 9 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.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I 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. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.
J. Instead of Jealousy, instead of intimidation, how did Jesus treat this person with obvious success? Let’s look at four principles that will help us as we interact with those in this world with obvious success.....
1. Stop Making Unfair Generalizations! Too often we make unfair assumptions about people and it hinders the work of the Kingdom. Sometimes we conclude.... “They are too Materialistic and Selfish they won’t care about Christ” and we don’t even try to influence them with the Gospel. Sometimes we conclude, “They got it made. They have everything!” And we never include them in our fellowship. Often we look at the present situation and totally ignore all the hard work that went into that success (schooling, training, discipline, money). Listen, Jesus didn’t label this guy. Jesus didn’t cast any immediate stereotypes. Instead, He was available, positive and willing to help.