01/31/16 I Want to be Like the Centurion!

Posted by Pastor Steve Siegrist on Monday, February 1, 2016 Under: Sermon

Are You That Witness Series – Matthew 8:5-13

Intro: When we think of a barrier we think of something physically enabling us from breaking through something. As a pastor I have experienced barriers from an entirely different perspective. I think of the barrier of pride, selfishness, laziness. With famous answer to those barriers: “I don’t have time,” I can’t do that,” "I don’t want to do that!"

“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NLT) Text: 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.”

Application: Jesus possessed the power to receive any person, regardless of the barrier. He can breakthrough every conceivable barrier.

1. The Ideological Barrier: Vs. 5-9

“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."

The first barrier is the ideological barrier. The centurion was a man rejected, despised, and hated by the Jews yet Jesus could reach him and meet his need. He had the power to span and to overcome the ideas and prejudices that divided man against man, neighbor against neighbor, race against race, nation against nation, employee against employer, child against parent, wife against husband.

Jesus’s power was stirred by the Centurions humility. He was a Gentile and a Roman officer, yet he came to a Jew for help. Approaching a Jew was socially unacceptable and unheard of for a Gentile, but being an officer of Rome made it worse. The centurion came to Jesus as "Lord," acknowledging His superior being and Messiahship. He approached Him as the One who could meet his need. Jesus' response to the centurion's cry for help was forceful: "I will." These words declare that Jesus will meet the need of anyone who truly trusts Him: master or servant, noble or common, parent or child, rich or poor, man or woman, sinner or saint, doomed or saved, helpless or capable, hopeless or assured. Jesus has no favorites. He does not favor one person over another.

The greatest of men must approach Jesus begging, totally dependent upon Him. There is no other way. Position, power, fame, wealth, and social acceptability must be laid aside. Our thoughts cannot be focused on self and social acceptability, but only upon Christ and His power if we wish Him to meet our need. Jesus' power was stirred by the centurion's sense of unworthiness. The centurion did not say, "My servant is not worthy to have you come"; but he said, "I am not worthy." A sense of personal unworthiness gripped him. Jesus Christ is the Sovereign Lord. He is the One who alone has the power to meet our need. Therefore, we have to confess our inadequacy and unworthiness to have the Lord help us. Society considered the centurion greater than the poor preacher from Nazareth. But the centurion humbly confessed a deep unworthiness before Christ. He saw something of God in Christ, something that caused him to humble himself before Christ. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

The Centurion went above and beyond what most good people would think was enough. The centurion loved his slave. He was pouring out his heart for another person (intercessory prayer). In the eyes of society the person should have been meaningless to him, yet the man meant much to him. He loved this meaningless person, this slave. Humility is like a slippery watermelon seed. Once you get it under your finger and you think you have it, it slips away from your grasp.

2. The Physical Barrier: Vs. 10-11

“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.”

The second barrier is the physical barrier, the centurion's servant was desperately ill and some miles away, yet Jesus could reach the servant. His power could span all the physical barriers, no matter how far away or how severe the condition.

Jesus' great power was stirred to embrace believers of every nationality. This was a Roman soldier a centurion. Jesus opened His heart and arms and embraced the centurion. This He did despite the fact that the man was despised and rejected as a Gentile. Imagine. He was not just a Gentile, but a Roman and a soldier, a citizen and soldier of the nation that enslaved the Jews. Jesus not only received the centurion, He commended him for his faith. He did not commend him for who he was nor for what he had done as a soldier. True belief is a rare thing. Not many believe, yet belief in Jesus Christ is one of the greatest qualities of human life—a quality ignored, neglected, and in some cases denied. What Jesus is after is faith.

3. The Spiritual Barrier: Vs. 12-13

“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.”

The last barrier in this message today is the spiritual barrier: the centurion was a Gentile, considered by the Jews to be lost spiritually, an alien and an enemy to the people of God. But Jesus had the power to reach the man, to pierce the spiritual barriers of his soul and save him. Jesus can reach the soul of any man who will believe in Him, no matter how lost or how alien or how much of an enemy to God he has been. The great faith of the centurion stirred Jesus to the point of wanting to demonstrate that He receives any man who truly believes, but He rejects those who do not believe, no matter who they are. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

I have been talking about the great power Jesus has in healing whoever He so choses; however, it is also important to know He will also reject the unbeliever. Jesus predicted that the Jews who persist in unbelief shall perish. They are rejected by God, despite the fact they had been chosen to be the children of God and had been given so many privileges. The scriptures are clear; there will be a region of outer darkness, far away from the splendor and glory and brightness of God's presence. There will weeping: loud grief, mourning, groaning, wailing, floods and floods of tears. There will be gnashing of teeth: It is rage, fury, and despair because nothing can be done. A person's state is permanently determined. Entrance into heaven is based upon one thing and one thing only: faith in Christ. Heritage, godly parents and children, religious profession, baptism, and church membership—all are useless without faith. Without faith, man has only the judgment of God to look forward to. Jesus' great power proves His Messiahship. His great power to meet the centurion's request proved His unlimited power as Messiah. Jesus often encourages us when we seek Him in behalf of others. He so encouraged the centurion. As we believe, so it shall happen to us. These were the words of Jesus to the centurion. It is almost like a blank check: the amount we receive depends on our faith in Him.

CONCLUSION: Faith is the gift of God. So is the air, but you have to breathe it. So is bread, but you have to eat it. So is water, but you have to drink it. So how do we accept this gift? Not by a feeling, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” Romans 10:17. It is not for me to sit down and wait for faith to come upon me with a strong feeling of some kind. Rather, faith comes when we take God at his word. That’s what the centurion did.

On the Day of Judgment, there will be some who claim to be Christians who will be turned away from God’s kingdom. They will be like counterfeit money when it reaches the bank. Suppose you are given a counterfeit bill in change at the store. Thinking it is genuine, you use it to pay for some gas. The station owner uses it to pay one of his employees, who uses it to buy groceries. From there it goes to the bank where the teller says, “I’m sorry, but this bill is counterfeit.” The bill may have been used to do a lot of good while it was in circulation, but when it arrived at the bank, it was exposed for what it really was and put out of circulation. A counterfeit Christian may do many good works, but still be rejected at the gates of judgment.

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