Summary: We have many lessons to learn about living an "incomparable faith" from the words and actions of a Roman Centurion."
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY
FEBRUARY 5, 2017
Luke 7:1-17 “Lessons on Faith”
We learn in different ways. Some of us learn by reading, others by hearing and still others by hands on experience. There have been countless books written on the topic of faith. These have been helpful for many. For many other followers of Jesus, though, something more is needed. We have that “more” in today’s text. The text contains great examples of what comprises an incomparable faith.
FAITH: FOCUSED ON OTHERS
It is common knowledge that faith is more than agreement in certain religious doctrines. Faith is not a noun, but rather it is a verb. In other words we do not “have” the faith, instead we “live” the faith.
In the story of the Centurion and the healing of his servant we see the demonstration of a faith focused on others. The Centurion was not approaching Jesus on his own behalf, but rather the Centurion “highly valued” slave.
Most of the time people approach Jesus to heal themselves. There are some notable exceptions, though. In the second chapter of Mark the author records that Jesus heals a paralytic. The man had been carried to Jesus by four of his friends. In the seventh chapter of Mark the author writes about a foreign woman who boldly approached Jesus on behalf of her daughter.
It is not wrong for us to bring our needs before the Lord. God invites us to do this. We are also encouraged, though, to pray for the needs of others. One of the ways that we can bear one another’s burdens is through prayer.
At Desert Streams members are sent a monthly Prayer Calendar so that we can pray for each other and by doing so encourage each other in our lives of faith and service. We also have our Prayer Connections Team to pray for critical needs. There are times when, in the middle of our struggles or sicknesses we, ourselves, can’t pray and we need to prayers of others.
The Centurion displays a notable sense of humility when he approaches Jesus. He doesn’t feel worthy to approach Jesus and ask Jesus to heal his servant. So, the Centurion requests that Jewish officials speak to Jesus and make the request. When Jesus comes near the Centurion’s home, the Centurion tells Jesus that he is not worthy to have Jesus enter his home. (It would have meant that Jesus would have been defiled according to Jewish law.) Instead the Centurion encourages Jesus to just say the word.
We often attempt to approach Jesus from a position of strength. We remind Jesus why we are worthy of God answering our prayers. If we feel that our position is a little weak, we may resort to bargaining with God, saying that we will do something if God answers our prayers.
When we read the story of the Centurion’s servant, we understand that Jesus did not respond to the Centurion’s request because the Centurion was worthy of answered prayer. We also assume that Jesus did not come to the Centurion’s house because of who the Centurion was and how he could have forced Jesus do come if he wanted to do so. No, we realize that Jesus responded to the Centurion because Jesus saw a person in need—the slave.