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Eternity 116 - Astonishing Faith, Ethnicity And The Kingdom Of Heaven

(Matthew 8:5-13 NKJV) Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, {6} saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented." {7} And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." {8} The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. {9} "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." {10} When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! {11} "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. {12} "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." {13} Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.

This story is one of astonishing faith, faith that caused even Jesus the Son of God to "marvel". The centurion intuitively understood the authority of Jesus Christ as Lord, that His authority was spiritual and verbal and active and living and capable of healing the centurion's servant even from a distance.

The faith of the centurion was humble "I am unworthy" and practical "But only speak a word and my servant will be healed". It was a faith that respectfully expected great things from God.

It was the faith of a Gentile. It was not sourced in heritage, tradition or answers learned by rote, it was a faith that he would have arrived at while observing Jesus on his tour of duty of Palestine. As a Roman he probably originally worshipped Zeus. By now however the centurion was clear that Jesus was the source of spiritual authority.While there are no profound theological statements recorded it is clear that he saw Jesus Christ as Lord, and one as qualified to give orders in the spiritual realm and to heal disease.

Somewhere along the line the centurion had made a real spiritual discovery that caused him to truly trust Jesus in a medical emergency. And it was more than shamanistic dependence on a faith healer. It was real faith, that understood that Jesus did not have to wave a magic wand or cast a spell but that a simple word of authority would be sufficient.

This was not the second-hand, book-based faith of the scribes and Pharisees, the sort of faith that stitches bible verses together but never lives them out. This was a personal discovery capable of daily application and which saw answered prayer in the midst of real life. We need to "discover" what we already know! We need to have a real living operation faith, not just a set of pat answers to church questions.

The Jews, the natural "sons of the Kingdom" probably knew all the standard Sunday School answers and the names of the prophets and a few dozen (or more) key bible verses. But they were headed for outer darkness where there would be weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth. They had the knowing but not the believing, they knew what to say when asked but that did not live in them with any power and efficacy. Their servants were not healed, their world was unchanged, they just went on being religious without really discovering it and believing it for themselves.

We need to do more than believe that Jesus existed. We need to believe that He is powerful and authoritative and can command our circumstances to change. We need to believe that Jesus can really, truly just speak a word and miracles will happen. Jesus needs to step out of the history books and into the midst of our lives. And when we can do that we will have the real living faith that is part and parcel of being in the Kingdom of Heaven.