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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An unlikely example of faith...

""Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel."-- Matthew 8:10. This verse is part of what I find to be a really neat account.  In short, we have a Roman centurion with a sick servant (likely a Jewish servant) and he knows Jesus can heal the servant with only a word.  We find here a very unlikely example of faith.

An unlikely example of faith.  Most often when we think of the great heroes of faith we think of Hebrews 11 and look at other great examples of faith such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses.  These are indeed great examples of faith but here in Matthew 8:5-13, in a span of 9 little verses along with a parallel account in Luke 7:1-10, we see this unlikely example of faith.

An unlikely example of faith.  What we have to understand about this situation is that Jesus draws a contrast between the centurion who is not of a Jewish background and the Jews themselves who knew God on a more intimate level than the Gentiles e.g. the centurion.  The Jews at this point had around 4000 years of history behind them from Abraham to Moses to the time of Jesus and knowing what God expected of them.  However, along the way something was lost.  God did not go anywhere.  His expectations did not change.  What happened was that obeying God became strictly based on works, rules, and regulations made by man and was no longer a matter of faith.  Many of the Jews were of the mindset that if they did x, y, and z they were right in God's eyes.  What they lost among other things was faith and in this instance they would be put to shame by a Gentile of all people, an unlikely example of faith.

An unlikely example of faith. Jesus would go on to say in Matthew 8:11-13 that many (Gentiles) would come from afar and sit among those great examples of faith such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  However, many of those that were "sons of the kingdom" (Jews) would be cast out into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So what does this unlikely example of faith mean to us?  First of all, I can't say if the Roman centurion ever became a follower of Christ since Scripture does not tell us but there is a good reason this account is included in both the gospels of Matthew and Luke.  The fact is more often than not it is the most unlikely of people who turn out to be the greatest Christians we have ever seen.  From Scripture, the most outstanding example is the apostle Paul formerly known as Saul.  As we know he was one of the greatest persecutors of Christians but one encounter with Christ would lead him to become one of the greatest preachers of the gospel the world has ever known.  My point is we should never withhold the gospel message from anyone for any reason.  People might be deep into their own sin but this does not mean they are without hope.  I have the privilege of knowing someone who was so deep in his own sin but an encounter with Christ caused him to turn his life completely around and in the short time that I have been in school with him at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, he has been a shining example of what it means to follow Christ and also sharing the gospel message with others.  God bless you Scott!

So what about us? What about you and me?  Whether we have been a Christian for years or we are a new convert one of the most important, if not the most important aspect of who we are is faith in our Lord and Savior.  Hebrews 11:6 that without faith is it impossible to please God.  We might be doing what the Bible says and "faithfully" attending church services every week but if we are not obeying out of faith, then it is pointless and we are not pleasing God.  Take some time this morning as you read this to examine your faith. Share your faith with others.  Go out of your way this week to talk to someone about Christ that the rest of the world might not want anything to do with. Remember the Roman Centurion and the great example he set for us.  In closing remember the words of Jesus "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel."


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