June 25, 2019
Pastor John Hering
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
There I was in heaven and I wanted to see the Lamb and the center of the throne, but I had no idea how to go about it. I knew where he was, but it was a completely crowded place. First, the were the four living creatures that had fallen down before him in worship. Then I saw the 24 elders (12 of the OT and 12 of the NT). They were multi-taskers—worshiping the Lamb, playing harps and holding golden bowls full of incense. All around them were angels—thousands upon thousands singing so loudly. Plus, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and the sea was there singing to him. This was a crowded place, the home of the Trinity. And I was just a drop in the bucket. It’s not like I was just going to walk up to the throne and tap the Lamb on the shoulder, right?
One of the angels picked me out and I asked him, “What are those golden bowls filled with incense the elders are holding?” He said, “Those are the prayers of all the saints. The Lamb hears and answers each one of them.” “Oh, really! Actually that’s why I’m here,” I said. “Would you take this prayer to them that the Lamb would bless my day, my wife and my kids and grandkids in strong faith. That he would keep all the members of Divine Peace strong in faith, and bless the work we do together?” “Of course!” And the angel took my piece-of-paper-prayer-request to an elder who put it into his golden bowl of incense. (Pause) Then I couldn’t believe it! The Lamb turned his face toward me, he smiled and started moving toward me. I wondered what I should do? What I should say? He came all the way and hugged me. I was so shocked, and yet, I really wasn’t. He is my Savior!
Can you believe it? That’s what faith does. It focuses on the Lamb and that’s what we’re going to do today. We will see that
Great Faith Makes Much of Jesus
In its Humility
Humility before the Throne of God in heaven isn’t all that hard to imagine. It makes a lot of sense. Put any one of us next to the Lamb in all his glory and you, too, would fall down before him. But, go figure! Jesus is amazed at the Roman centurion! Because Capernaum wasn’t the throne room of God, it was a small fishing town on the shores of Galilee in a Roman territory. Jesus was the spiritual leader of a small following. The centurion was a man of great power with 100 soldiers under his command. We would expect the centurion to bring his troops and make demands of Jesus. That’s what soldiers do. Remember Naaman the Assyrian general who brought soldiers with chariots and horses expecting to receive healing for his leprosy from Elisha?
But, the centurion shows great faith in its humility. “There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.” The centurion learned of the true God from his chosen people—the Jews, and that he was but a lowly Gentile. He made nothing of himself, but his faith made much of Jesus. He respected Jesus so much that he sent Jewish elders on his behalf. And the elders did their job well. “When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” The Jews honored the centurion, for in all of ancient literature, this is the only account of a Gentile funding a synagogue for the Jews! Yes, they thought the centurion deserved it—that he was worthy to have Jesus heal his servant.
Do you realize what they were doing? They were comparing two people and ascribed worth to the one that was deserving. Like using a scale and evaluating two things. For example Jesus said, “The worker is worthy of his wages: (Luke 10:7). John the Baptist said, “The thongs of his sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie” (Mark 1:7). Peter said, “Are you doing to wash my feet?” (John 13:6). The Jewish leaders said, “This man deserves to have you do this.” He is worthy to have you do this miracle. Jesus isn’t judgy, but reacts: “Jesus went with them.”
But, as Jesus is actually coming to the Gentile Centurion’s house, we hear this news, “He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” Notice the centurion’s faith is saying two things. 1) I am making little of myself. 2) My faith is making much of you, Jesus. This is great faith! It recognizes our smallness and weakness next to God! Yet, this faith also confesses the greatness of God in Christ Jesus: He sent the Jewish elders, he doesn’t want Jesus to come under his Gentile roof, he is ascribing great worth to Jesus in all humility, falling on his face before God he is acknowledging Jesus’ worth in humility.
Because of your sin, you like to make God more like you—make yourself more like God—ascribing worth to yourself. Today it probably looks like this:
- The Bible on the shelf gets treated like any other book in the house gathering dust.
- Prayers are more about selfish wants than actual requests that honor, praise and trust in God as he hears and answers.
- People say, “I’m a spiritual person” but have trouble to prioritize worship and place little value on Kingdom Kids by either bringing their kids, or volunteering to help teach.
- For others being a Christian is simply a title, and your life looks pretty similar to an unbeliever without humble awe and humility that is reflected by a sincere servant of the Most High God!
What foolishness to rob God of his worth and turn it into something worthy of us! Truth be told we are not worthy of Jesus due to our sins. He should never enter our house or our hearts. However, “Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). God the Father loved us so much that made a plan to redeem us from the punishment of our sins. God the Son came to carry out the plan to defeat the curse of sin, the power of death and the devil when he died on the cross as our Substitute. God the Holy Spirit brought the Good News of Jesus into our hearts through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. Jesus is the Word made flesh to suffer, die and after descending into hell to proclaim his victory—he dusted off his feet alive! Jesus is the Word who spent hours in prayer—not in selfish wants, but in petitions for you and me! Jesus, who is the Word, made it his priority to be in God’s house of worship every Sabbath. Being the Savior was not just a title, but in complete awe and humility of his Father he served perfectly. All of this for you! We agree! Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to received all praise and thanks and honor and glory for ever and ever!
Leave behind the life of sin and in humble faith worship the Savior who dusted his feet, gave his back to whipping, gave his hands and feet to be nailed to the cross for you. Leave behind the life of rebellion and kneel beside the manger in humble faith that makes much of the Babe of Bethlehem. And even though you cannot see the Throne of God today, through the eyes of humble faith make much of the Lamb who slain and who sits on the throne. In humble faith rejoice that Jesus is with us always in love to the end of your life. Be still, and know that our Triune God is your God. Revere his holy name. Call upon his name in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks in Humble Faith That Makes Much of the Trinity! As our Faith Makes Much of the Lamb, it will
In Its Confidence
We get back to the account of the centurion and notice that while he had humble faith, he was also confident in his faith. “The centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Put this into perspective. The record shows Jesus touching people and healing them. He spoke loudly to the crowds so all would know he was the one doing the miracle. He looked to heaven before healing the deaf and dumb man, before breaking the few loaves and fish to feed 5,000 people to teach that his power was connected to his Father in heaven. He wanted the people to see him in action, to make much of him, and to put their faith in him. But, the centurion didn’t need this lesson. Perhaps he stood outside the window of the synagogue he built in order to hear God’s Word! Somehow he had learned that Jesus was the Christ with power over all things. No need for Jesus to come to his house, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” God can do that. Just say the Word—“Let there be light” (Gen 1:3), and there was light. The Lord commanded, “Put a snake on a pole and all those who were bitten by the poisonous snake will be restored” (Numb 21:9). And they were restored. The Lord did “teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3). This centurion’s faith was confident in his Lord’s promises. If Jesus just said the Word, then it would be a done deal.
Do you remember when Jesus talked of a “faith as small as a mustard seed that could move mountains” (Matt 17:20)? So, is great faith, small faith? No, the point Jesus is making is that no matter how unscientific, irrational or impossible a promise of God sounds, you can be confident of it. If Jesus were to say to you, “Tell that mountain to move from here to there” – he invites you to say, “Well, Jesus has given the word, and nothing is impossible with the Lamb, so I will go confidently and tell that mountain to move from here to there.” It will happen. If God told me to march around Jericho blowing trumpets and watch the walls come tumbling down, then I would confidently march. If Jesus told me to speak his name while applying water and he would wash my sins away, then I would confidently baptize people. If Jesus told me to speak his Word while distributing wafer and wine and he would grant forgiveness of sins, eternal life and deliverance form the devil, then I would distribute with confidence. If the Holy Spirit told me to go and speak the Word of life to people and he would create faith in their hearts, then I would speak with confidence. If the Trinity speaks at our death, “All who die in the Lord, will live even though they die in the mansions of heaven” then I would in confidence close my eyes and be ready to see things that my eyes have never seen before. Because Great Faith Makes Much of the Promises of our Triune God! So, close your spiritual eyes and open your eyes of faith and let’s humbly and confidently worship the Lamb. For to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and thanks and honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen!