Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

04/29/2018 A.M.

 

Faith Lessons From A Soldier

Matthew 8.5-13 & Luke 7.1-10

 

Access a Worship Bulletin and scan our text as I rehearse it.

 

We gather just outside the City of Capernaum...

Capernaum...The hometown of two very different people... Yet they become the focus of our study...

• One a Jew… the other a Greek...

• One an officer of Rome...... The other seems to be an ordinary citizen of a conquered people...

• One a free man with respectable rights... The other a Jew under Roman rule with no rights.

• One a man of authority... The other under his authority... Yet with all authority...

• One is a professional solider... The other God in the flesh...

• One with a need... The other has the ability to supply the need.

Here we meet Jesus and an unnamed Centurion.

 

The Centurion was the backbone of the Roman army... A field commander... In charge of a hundred soldiers.

 

I think it interesting to note that several Centurions are mentioned in the NewTestament... And that...

• Every one of them is mentioned in a favorable way...

• They are all portrayed in a good light...

• As honorable men.

 

Today...Our meeting takes place on the outskirts of the city...

Verse 6... The Centurion begs Jesus to heal his... Suffering... Paralyzed... Near death... Servant.  So... Jesus agrees... OK... I’ll go.

 

As Jesus heads for the house... Something else interesting happens...  The Centurion says... Lord... I am not worthy... I don’t deserve to have You come under my roof... You just say the word… My servant will be healed.

 

Verse10... When Jesus heard this... He was astonished!!... amazed!!... I tell you the truth... I have not found anyone in all of Israel with such great faith... Many will come from the East and the West into the Kingdom... Into the feast of Abraham... But they will be thrown out... Because of their lack of faith.

 

You see... The Jews believed that... When Messiah came... They would set down with Him at this great banquet table... But Two things never Entered their mind...

• One... That there would be a Gentile at that table...

• And two... That many of them would not be seated there.

Yet Jesus said... This was just what was going to happen.

Jesus makes it clear that admission to this banquet is based upon one’s faith in Him.

 

Jesus has not seen such faith in all of Israel...

• Not among the Scribes and Pharisees...

• Not in the office of the High Priest...

• Not among His own disciples...

• Not even in His own twelve Apostles.

No where ... No where have I seen faith like this!!

 

A faith that says... Just say the word... Just say the word.

This Centurion seems to be saying... You created the universe and everything in it with a word... Just say the word!!

 

Verse 13... Jesus says the word... Go and it will be so... Just as you believed it would.  And his servant was healed that very hour.

 

Can’t you imagine the Centurion coming home... And those in his house running out exclaiming...Guess what??... Guess what master??...And with a broad smile the Centurion says... YES... I KNOW... I KNOW.

 

What an interesting narrative in the life of Jesus.

What we want to do this morning is to just see what we can learn

about our faith from this narrative.

 

First...We learn that caring for others brings us closer to Jesus.

The reason this Centurion came to Jesus was because he loved and cared for his servant.

 

We must not miss the point church... The same is true for us today...

• If we want to see Jesus...

• Encounter Jesus...

• Serve Jesus...

• Be near to Jesus...

• If we want to follow Jesus...

• If we want Him living in us...

• If we want Jesus to favor us

Then we must... LOVE... CARE FOR... AND SERVE... OTHER PEOPLE.

 

WHY should this surprise us?

• It was this same Jesus who said... As often as you do it unto the least of these... You’ve done it unto Me.

• Scripture tells us that... We can’t love God... Until... Unless... We love others.

• John says plainly... We are living a lie... If we say we love God and DON’T love others.

• Jesus said... You will be My disciple... And the world will know that you are Mine... WHEN?...

When we love one another...

When we are concerned about one another...

When we serve one another.

• When we place the needs and interest of others before those of our own.

 

Let me share something I have discovered... Every time... Every time... I feel that Jesus is not near... That Jesus is slipping out of my life... Becoming distant.  I’ve learned to take note of my relationship with you and others...  I have learned to ask....

• Am I... Loving... Caring... Serving?... Georgia?

• My children and grandchildren?...

• Extended family??...

• You in the church?...

• Those who are sick and dying in our community?

 

Let’s not fool ourselves... Loving...Caring... Serving... means doing things like...

• Making hospital visits...

• Visiting the nursing home...

• Caring for the widows and shut-ins...

• Visiting those out of duty spiritually...

• Hospicevisits...

• It means teaching classes...

• Volunteering to care for children in the nursery...

• Delivering Meals-On-Wheels...

• Driving the van...

• Having the teenager in our homes...

• Serving as an Elder... And or deacon...

 

Listen to me church... Like the Jews of old... We’re wrong when we think genuine Christianity… A God pleasing faith… Is bound up in rule keeping and Doctrinal soundness alone!!... We must conform to the image of Jesus.

 

We must live like He lived... loving...Caring... serving... others.

Because when we do... WE ARE LOVING and SERVING JESUS!!

When will we get it?... When will this spiritual truth... Sink into our hearts?

 

Church...The best practical advice I can give you this morning is this... Lose yourself in... loving... Caring... serving... others... And God will come amazingly close... And will do amazing things in your life... This is just a fact of faith.

It brought this Centurion to an encounter with Jesus... And it will do the same for us.

 

Secondly... We learn that God must be approached in HUMILITY.

I believe it important for us to know our place before an Almighty Sovereign God.  Like this Centurion... We must have a heart that recognizes and says...

• You are God... And I recognize that all blessings flow from your hand....

• That it is in You that we... Live... Move... And have our being......

• That I don’t deserve any of what You have and are lavishing upon me.

 

Notice here church that this Centurion seems to already know what Isaiah had to learn in Isaiah chapter six...

 

Isaiah comes to the Temple as an advisor to Israel... To consult with God... What does God want Isaiah to learn first & foremost... Humility!!

 

The Temple shakes with God’s presence...

His Spirit fills the room like smoke...

Angelic beings from Heaven come singing God’s praises...

As Isaiah sees God as He really is... Isaiah sees himself as he really is... A sinner in need of ongoing forgiveness… Woe is Me!!

 

Church... How do we see ourselves this morning?

Like the Scribes and Pharisees... Arrogant?... Superior?... And self-righteous?... Better than thou… Being judgmental of others?

 

Do we see ourselves better than those across the aisle...Better than Elders... Teachers... Etc?

 

This narrative follows the Sermon on the Mount...Where Jesus stated... Blessed are... The humble... The poor in spirit... The meek... Those who mourn their sin.

 

Yes... Yes... We are His creation... His beloved... His children... His adopted.

But must remember that it’s because of...

• His love...

• His grace...

• His mercy...

• His loving kindness...

• His initiative...

That we are here... And are so blessed... Saved by grace through faith.

 

Listen to these Humility verses...

• First Peter five... Clothe yourselves with humility... WHY??... Because God opposes the proud... But gives grace to the humble... This is what we need... GOD’S GRACE... And it’s ours if we will humble OURSELVES before the Lord.

• Solomon says... Seven things that God hates... Pride is first on His list.

• Jesus said... Blessed are... the meek... The humble... Those who are poor in spirit.

• Peter writes... Humble yourselves before God’s mighty hand so that He may lift you up.

 

Church...We are not worthy for God to enter into our house... Yet He has.  He has not only entered into our house... He lives within those who humbly submit to His will through the Word.

 

Indeed... faith & Humility allow God to live in us... But our pride drives Him away.

 

Number three... We must learn to accept authority.

When we were young we thought... I’ll be glad when I grow up... And I’ll not have to take orders from anyone... Then...No one can tell me what to do... Do you remember ever thinking like this?  How did that work out for you?...

 

When I left home I thought I was on my own... However... I went from having to do what mom and dad wanted me to do for my own good... To having to submit to some... Tough... Ugly... Careless... Army Sergeant... That I didn’t even know.

 

You see... We should have learned by now that... ALL OF US must submit to authority.

 

This Centurion said... I know this... I know how this works... I give orders and people respond.

 

But church... Long before that... He had learned the other side of this authority coin... He learned to take orders...To respond to authority.

 

Authority is all around us... And being God’s person includes our submission to authority...

Romans 13.1-2... Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

 

Ephesians 6.1-3... Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother--which is the first commandment with a promise-- that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

 

Ephesians 6.5-8... Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and sincerity of heart,just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

 

Ephesians 5.21-22... Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

 

Hebrews 13.17... Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

 

1Peter 3.13... Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men.

 

Even Jesus submitted... I came to do the will of the Father... Don’t you know... I should be about My Father’s business.

 

These Scriptures tell us that...

• Rebelling against governmental authority is rebelling against God.

• Rebelling against parents is rebelling against God.

• Rebelling against husbands is rebelling against God.

• Rebelling against an eldership is rebelling against God.

• Rebelling against submission to one another... Placing OUR OWN INTEREST before the interest of others is rebelling against God.

This soldier teaches us that great faith begins with submission to authority.

 

Then finally... We learn that faith is our passport to heaven’s feast.

Underlinethe word PASSPORT!!... And we’ll return to it later.

 

I believe Heaven has prepared two feasts for us... One in this life... One in eternity.

 

It was Jesus who said... I came that you might have life... And have it more abundantly.

 

Faith in Jesus is following Jesus... God tells us this is the best life we’ll find here and now.

 

The Old Testament has God saying... I have plans for you...Declares the Lord... Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

 

Mark 11.22-24 has Jesus saying... Have faith in God... I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

 

John 14.12-14... I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

 

James 5.16 says... If you are in trouble... If you are sick... Unleash the power of God through prayer... The prayer of a righteous man is both Powerful and effective.

 

Like this centurion... We must ask in faith... Knowing that it is our faith that unleashes God’s power in our lives.  And that He will give us just what we need... What is best for us... Every time!!... Every time!!

 

Faith is also our passport to... heaven... Eternal life... In the hereafter.

Faith is not our ticket to heaven... It is our passport!

 

A ticket is something we pay for...A ticket is something we purchase... RIGHT?

• A passport is ours because of whose we are... Not what we are.

• A passport is not based upon our merit... But upon our citizenship.

Our passport to heaven’s feast is because we belong to God... Because our citizenship is in His Kingdom... Made possible by our FAITH in Jesus!

 

Ephesians 2.8-9 tells us... It is by grace you have been saved... Through faith... And this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no-one can boast.

 

Galatians 3.26... We are children of god by faith.

 

The Hebrews’ Writer says... Without faith...It is impossible to please God.

 

Note when Paul says our faith saves... AT OBEDIENCE!!... For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ... Have been clothed with Christ... There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

 

Well... Jesus was astonished by this man's faith.

QUESTION!!... Is He astonished by... Our faith?... My faith?... Your faith?

 

Not only Jesus...

• But how about our children?... Are they astonished by our faith?...

• How about our spouse...

• Our parents...

• Working companions...

• Neighbors...

• Even our enemies?

 

Some of us have allowed our faith to be weakened.

Some of us have even given in to our doubts.

Some of us have taken our eyes off Jesus... And are drowning in the cares of this world... Yes... Yes... We do believe... May God help our unbelief... Amen?

 

Have we learned anything from this Centurion that we can use?

Are there some corrections that we need to make?

 

HAS...IS OUR FAITH PROMPTING US TO SUBMIT TO ALL THAT GOD ASKS OF US?

• Become His child by… Faith... Repentance... and New Testament Baptism.

• Like this Centurion… Have a remarkable faith...

As we stand and sing this invitation song together...