Summary: Miracle of Faith, Pt. 2
NOT UNDER MY ROOF (MATTHEW 8:5-13)
An ancient legend told of a monk who found a precious stone - a precious jewel, in fact, and then quietly kept it in his bag. A short time later, however, he met a traveler, who said he was hungry and asked the monk if he would share some of the provisions. When the monk opened his bag, the traveler saw the precious stone and, on an impulse, asked the monk if he could have it. Amazingly, without much thought, the monk gave the traveler the stone.
The traveler departed quickly, overjoyed with his new possession. However, a few days later, he came searching for the monk again. The monk was, of course, curious to see the traveler again. He wondered at what might have happened to the precious jewel, and yet frowned at what else the traveler would want.
Surprisingly, the traveler returned the stone to the monk and asked for something else. The monk gasped and shook his head in disbelief. What else would he have that the traveler would be interested to have? Finally the traveler said, “Please give me that which enabled to you to give me this precious stone!?(Adapted from James W. Moore, Some Things Are Too Good Not to Be True, Dimensions, 1994, p. 101)
The gospels commended a selfless centurion whose great faith in God brought recognition from Jesus, healing to his servant and comparison with the Jews. This passage is controversial among scholars, baffling to readers, and attacked by critics because Matthew reports that the centurion met Jesus, whereas Luke 7:1-10 claims that the two delegations the centurion sent did. The two possible ways to harmonize these two passages are to accept the possibility that either the delegates?words were as good as the centurion’s words ?linguistically, culturally, and technically, or that Jesus still proceeded to the centurion’s house after the crowd had left.
What help did the centurion give to his servant? How was his faith great? Why is faith no respecter of persons? How does a Gentile come to God?
Faith Transcend Status; It Applies to Master or Servant
5When 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.?(Matt 8:5-6)
It was related that once when the Duke of Wellington took communion at his parish church, a very poor old man went up to the opposite aisle, and knelt down close by the side of the Duke upon reaching the Communion table. Immediately, confusion, conversation and commotion ensued and interrupted the silence of the church. Someone came and touched the poor man on the shoulder, and whispered to him to move farther away, or to rise and wait until the Duke had received the bread and the wine.
But the eagle eye and the quick ear of the Duke caught the meaning of the touch and the whisper. He clasped the old man’s hand and held him to prevent his rising; and in a reverential but distinct undertone, the Duke said, “Do not move; we are equal here.?(Adapted from Pulpit Helps 3/91)
The centurion was a thoughtful, caring and kind man. He was not your typical master, owner, or taskmaster. He was first and foremost a brother, a friend, and a guardian to the servant. The slave-owner did not stand aloof, stand back, or stand around doing nothing when his servant was in pain, in sickness and in need. Though he and his servant were from different worlds and lived separate lives, class, rank or wealth did not define their relationship. No culture gap, social barrier, or class distinction separated them.
The centurion had a heart of gold, a heart of compassion, and a heart of flesh and blood. Although not a doctor or a psychologist, he knew of his servant’s sickness, its symptoms and severity, and also the loneliness, sadness, and fear that he was going through. “Lord,?the centurion said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.?(Matt 8:6) He cared for a slave who could be easily replaced, who was effectively useless, and who would drain and deplete resources.
The centurion needed no group petition, eloquent persuasion, or outside pressure to convince him to seek Jesus?help. He changed roles with the servant, attended to the servant for a change, and pleaded as if his very life was at stake. He would send for Jewish elders, personal friends, and more delegations if he had to.
Of Jesus?thirty-five recorded miracles in the Gospels, only nine individuals/groups took their cases to Jesus personally: four for their own welfare, including two instances with lepers (Mt 8:2-4, Lk 17:11-19) and two with the blind (Mt 9:27-31, Mt 20:29-34); four parents on their child’s behalf, including the Cana nobleman’s son (Jn 4:46-54), Jairus?daughter (Mt 9:18-19), the Syrophoenician’s daughter (Mt 15:21-28) and the father of a demon-possessed boy (Mt 17:14-18); but only the centurion unselfishly petitioned Jesus to heal a lowly slave, a family outsider, and probably a lost cause, too.