Summary: A Centurion who came to Jesus for help first recognized then submitted to the authority of the Master.
Jesus Helps a Soldier Matt. 8:5-13
INTRO.: Early in the second year of Jesus’ earthly ministry, a soldier came to Him for help. In fact, this soldier was a ranking officer in the Roman army. A Centurion.
One commentator notes Centurions were the backbone of the Roman army. He commanded 100 men. Each Centurion was chosen from among the best, most dedicated career officers in the army.
This Centurion is most unusual. He is part of an occupation army and yet, he has won the respect and affection of the Jews. He did this by showing respect for them. He had even built them a synagogue.
In fact, in Luke’s version of the story, the Jewish leaders testify that "he loves our nation." Whether or not he embraced the Jewish religion, he was certainly sympathetic toward it.
Somehow he learned of Jesus and believed in Him. Now in a time of crisis, he comes to Jesus seeking help.
The story is a lesson on authority. Matthew’s theme is the Kingdom of God and its King. Here he shows how the authority of Jesus operates in response to the faith of men.
Some observations about the authority of Jesus:
I. First, the Centurion expressed his recognition of the authority of Jesus:
A. ILLUS.: a retired army officer told me, "I know what to do with a command. You obey it." Soldiers understand authority.
1. The Centurion, a military officer recognized authority.
2. The Centurion saw in Jesus authority greater than his own and faith, combined with a desperate love for his servant, caused surrender to that authority.
3. The Centurion didn’t have to be present to have his orders obeyed, Jesus didn’t need to be there to heal.
4. It isn’t necessary for Him to examine the patient or even hear the patient’s name.
B. Jesus uses the occasion to teach the universality of His authority. v. 11
1. The feast mentioned is symbolic to the Jew of his final state in the Kingdom of God.
2. No Jew could imagine any Gentile there, but Jesus claims authority over all nations.
3. His invitation & His authority extend to all. Gal. 3:28
4. He is final authority in the Church. His commands must be obeyed.
C. Consider the story in Mark 2:1-10 of the paralytic lowered through the roof. (Esp. V. 10.)
1. God alone has authority to forgive sin because every sin is against Him.
2. God entrusted authority to Jesus. In John 17:1- 3, Jesus acknowledged this.
3. Jesus is the only One Who has that authority.
II. Then the Centurion submitted to Jesus’ authority:
A. Notice his willingness:
1. He came to Jesus. Most unusual for a Centurion.
2. He implied Jesus had greater authority than he. "I am a man UNDER authority, yet, even my orders are obeyed."
3. He offered no argument when Jesus said "go".
4. Jesus marveled at his faith. It was faith that caused him to accept Jesus’ authority.
B. Let’s look at another story. Matt. 13:54-58
1. When Jesus made His final visit to Nazareth, the people rejected Him because of familiarity.
2. Although they heard of His teaching and miracles, they couldn’t accept His authority.
3. Matthew makes the reason for rejection clear in v. 58.
4. Because they rejected His authority, they missed many blessings.
C. It’s still true: if you reject His authority, you rob yourself of many blessings.
1. Marital problems? If both parties will honestly make Christ the Ruler in their lives and center of their home, they can solve any problem.
2. Money problems? If a family will commit to put God first in their budget, their needs will be met.
3. Child rearing? Do it God’s way and you will rear children you can be proud of.
4. Church problems? Put selfish interests aside and turn to Christ for solutions. Eph. 1:22
5. But, it all requires acceptance of His authority. It isn’t a "one hour a week" project.
CONC.: ILLUS,: Irish lady. Too many folk turn to the Lord when they are desperate and rely on Him until they can get through certain problems of disaster. Then they are right back to trying to handle things under their own power and authority. Jesus responds to us when we come to Him in faith and surrender to His authority. Surrender means we live for Him, not for self.