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The True Gospel

“When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.  “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”  Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”  The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just 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 and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  “ Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. (Matthew 8:5-13, NIV)

Two points:  This happened because of the man’s faith in Jesus, and Jesus was amazed at the Centurion’s faith.

The Centurion had a sick servant but he knew that Jesus could heal that servant.  Why? Because he had heard about Jesus from others and He must have surely seen Jesus do the impossible. From what He had seen and heard, Jesus never failed—He was all He claimed to be and all that the Father had promised to send to redeem the world.

This is the only time in Bible we’re told that Jesus was amazed at someone’s faith.  But just think  for a moment about who this man was!  He was not a prominent Jew or a close follower of Christ—-he was a  Roman soldier—a Gentile—a Pagan. The Romans were not popular with the Jews.

This happened right after He had just delivered what would become the most famous sermon in history of mankind.  When he entered the town, he was met by a small delegation of Jewish elders, and they had an urgent request. There was this Roman centurion whose servant was so sick that he was expected to die quite soon. The centurion had asked these Jewish elders to go to Jesus on his behalf to see if Jesus might be willing to heal his servant. Again, this was bizarre.  The Jewish leaders were not in the habit of helping  Roman soldiers and Romans did ask the Jews for help!

You get the idea that the Jewish leaders felt  the obvious oddness of their request, so one of the quickly added, "He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”  But this was also strange. Roman soldiers were not think much of the Jews.  Obviously, Jesus knew that His Father's hand in this and so he set off with them to the centurion's home.

The centurion was one the most unlikely persons to amaze Jesus. Again, he was a Gentile. He was a Roman soldier, stationed in Palestine to subject the Jews to the Emperor's rule—they were an occupying nation.  The Centurion was a man of war. He achieved the rank of centurion by distinguishing himself above others in the brutal Roman art of fighting and killing. Not exactly the résumé you'd expect for becoming one of the Bible's great heroes of faith.

So what in the world had happened to this man? We don't know. But there he is in Capernaum; a miracle of God's marvelous grace. And he's an example of what Jesus had come to bring about to the entire world. He was a living illustration that "many would come from the east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven".

This centurion is also a reminder to us that "man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”.. I think we will be surprised someday when Jesus doles out rewards. Most of the truly  great ones, who might be living among us right now,  will probably have lived in total obscurity. Jesus is not as impressed with titles, degrees, and achievements as we are. He is impressed with those who really do humbly believe him.

Jesus was awed by the man’s faith.  Now you might wonder, how Christ could not have known that they Centurion would have had such great faith—after all, He was the Son of God and all-knowing?  But the truth is,  Christ emptied Himself of His omniscience when He came to earth as man—He was pure, divine, holy, perfect—and remained that way.  But for God’s purposes, for Christ and mankind to be fulfilled, He has restrictions, so to speak, of  His knowledge and ability to see what would happen next.  That’s a measure of how much He loves us. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, limited Himself so that He might be able to bring about the restoration of man to God.

Jesus was amazed at that man’s faith—but would He be amazed at my faith—or yours—-were He here today? This Centurion believed that Christ was the “One”, that could bring life, restore mankind and perform the impossible. It pleased Jesus then, and it pleases Him now.  Those that believe in Him and  trust Him are a joy to the Lord.and …  there is also no other way a man can be saved but to believe in Him.

It might sound like a silly question, for those that have not experienced the sensation of knowing His love and approval, but this past week did you “make Him happy” by trusting in Him, when it seemed totally impossible for anyone to possibly rescue you? At some point in your life, have you put your hand into His hand and trusted Him to save your soul?  If He were here today, would He be amazed at your faith, or dismayed by how thick-headed and quick to forget you are? I have seen Him do the impossible and turn a tragedy into a triumph time and time again—so why do I doubt Him now?  Why do I still wonder if His arm is long enough to see me through the week, lately?  Is this church…our nation….trusting and believing Him to do something wonderful and incredible?

Later on, Matthew recorded this:

“Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, ‘If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned around, and when he saw her, he said, ‘Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.” (Matthew 9:20-22)

Again, it was the faith that moved the mountains—-it was faith that led to an undeniable miracle—it was faith that opened the door to a new life!  The woman may not have seen Jesus heal before, but she trusted with just the little faith she had. She trusted Him, and because of this, her faith led to healing.

Such faith can save your soul, if you truly believe.  First, we believe that God loves us, next we admit that we’ve sinned—we’ve missed God’s intention for your lives, but then we must trust that Jesus can do for us what He was sent here to do—that is provide the means whereby we can escape death and receive the gift of eternal life.  Have you stepped out in faith and trusted Him to save your soul?

These two examples show Christ’s ability to make people whole, who were physically suffering. And yet, tt was not His ultimate purpose and goal to heal people.  Making people complete and whole, physically and spiritually, was the very nature of God’s Son. He healed them because that’s what He does! He restores the souls of those that He comes across if they want to be made whole—-if they merely ask Him to heal them. He made no request for any kind of payment or even a word of thanks. All they had to do was believe  that Jesus could restore them…..and He did.

This past Wednesday we celebrated the life of Vicki Lynch, who at 65 years of age, lost her life to cancer.  She was a believer, she prayed, she trusted Jesus, and many of us prayed and prayed for her healing.  But she still passed away—and she suffered the last few weeks of her life.  It’s a fact that Jesus does not always heal all of us when we pray—even if our faith is extraordinary. Every first century Christian is dead—-old age, disease, and accident or martyrdom caught up with them. We will all die, just like Vicki, one day—unless the Lord returns first.  But the healing of these two people is not about a Christian always being healed when people pray.  It’s about what Jesus was sent here to do: To save all of us from the consequences of sin—-which includes disease and heartache, in the short term, but eternal death, in forever terms.

Every person that fought in WWII is dead, or will soon be dead. It’s sad—there were a lot of heroes in that generation. All people from WWI are dead. No matter how faithful, obedient to God and humble they were. No, Christ did not come to keep us from getting sick or drying from a disease—though He does intervene many occasions.  He came to destroy death and give us eternal life and perfect health in an eternal place of peace and joy.  But the one thing that is required and essential is belief—-such as this man and woman had.  That’s why their stories were recorded for you and me.

It’s great that Jesus healed them—-but you can be 100% certain that they eventually died. Their very bones are now dust.  They are gone! But this story lingers and is retold millions and millions of times for this purpose: That man and that woman are yet alive—and will forever live in the most amazing and peaceful life you can dream of—-because they put their faith in Jesus Christ.  The dust of their bodies might still be here, but they have a glorious new body in heaven—one that cannot bleed or get sick or get old!

Do you have faith in Jesus Christ? Can He make you whole and heal your soul? Do you believe that He can preserve you, even as you age and die, and bless you beyond your imagination? Do you know Jesus… my Lord? Have you heard that He loves you?  Do you believe that God sent Him to save you from certain death?

Jesus invited us into His kingdom, promises to clothe us with His perfect righteousness, and wash away all of our sins.  No greater offer could ever be extended to any one of us here than the free offer of he gospel of Jesus Christ.

For He has come to seek and to save those that are lost, and if you have never acknowledged  that you’re lost and that you need to be saved, turn to Him this moment, and He you.  He will save you forever.  But if you do not, there is a day of dread that is coming, and it will be shocking in that day if you stand before Him without an advocate.

-Jesus never fails….

-Amaze Jesus today….

-Decide to trust him…

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