Audio Lesson by David Daniel
Happy Father’s Day!
Today we pause to give thanks for our fathers and all the men who have touched our lives. We thank God for the wonderful example of Christ’s love shown to us through our fathers and the many others who have influenced our lives.
Scripture: Matthew 8:5-13
Lesson Goal: To better understand the faith of an outsider (a Gentile) and how he becomes an example to all.
In last week’s passage we saw Jesus touch and heal a leper. Chronologically, this particular miracle happened before Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But the Gospel writers do not always write in chronological order. In chapter eight, Matthew shows Jesus’ authority by His healing of a leper, the centurion’s servant, and Peter’s mother-in-law. The point Matthew seeks to make us aware of and help us to understand is the placement of these verses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Matthew’s writings, today’s Scripture follows the healing of the leper and precedes the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Here is a simple point of emphasis concerning Matthew’s placement of the verses as they relate to the time of his writing: Lepers, Gentiles, and women were considered outcast by many Jewish people, especially the Pharisees. Many Pharisees prayed each morning: “I give thanks that I am a man and not a woman, a Jew and not a Gentile; a free-man and not a slave.” Matthew writes concerning Jesus reaching out to those considered to be outcast; the leper, the centurion’s servant, and the woman (Peter’s mother-in-law).
(VV5-13) Remember, this event took place before the Sermon on the Mount. Most commentators believe this event took place shortly after Jesus healed the leper.
(V5) Jesus has returned to Capernaum where He has established the center point of His ministry—His base of operations. As with the leper (verses 2-4), the fact of a Gentile centurion seeking Jesus’ help certainly challenged the thinking of the religious orthodoxy.
Centurions were Roman military leaders who commanded a unit known as a century made up of approximately 100 men. “The centurions were the backbone of the Roman legions. Every biblical reference to a centurion casts them in a positive light” (Weber). “Every centurion mentioned in the Gospels and Acts was a gentleman of high character and sense of duty, and this man was no exception. The fact that he was concerned about a lowly servant-boy indicates this” (Wiersbe).
(V6) This servant was very ill, even to the point of death. The servant was in terrible pain associated with palsy (paralysis). Matthew and Luke offer different perspectives concerning this Scripture. Matthew gives an abbreviation of the incident. See Luke 7:2-9. In verse five, Matthew mentions that the centurion had such affections for this servant that he pleaded on his behalf.
How must it have been to be labeled and treated as an outcast?
What can Jesus’ teachings and examples of dealing with those marked as outcast teach us today?
How can we show the love of Jesus to those the world views as outcasts?
Why do we label and think of some people as outcast?
Luke, in giving more details of this event, tells us that Jewish elders spoke on behalf of the Roman centurion. In fact, the Jewish Elders described the centurion as “deserving” or worthy of this favor. “Luke used the Greek term ‘axios’ which is rendered ‘worthy, fit, deserving’” (Swindoll). See Luke 7:4-5.
The Jewish Elders (officers) were simply saying that this Roman centurion was a good man. These Jews approached Jesus, Jew-to-Jew, testifying to the goodness of this Gentile centurion. They even gave specific evidence of his goodness: “For he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue” (Swindoll).
How can we (followers of Jesus) show His love to the outcast?
Matthew simply gives us the details of Jesus’ response (V7): “I will come and heal him.”
(V8) The centurion was aware of the Jewish taboo against visiting Gentile homes. When Jesus showed his willingness, not only to heal the servant but to enter a Gentile home, He was offering a great lesson. For a Jew, let alone a Jewish teacher, to enter the house of a Gentile was unthinkable. Once again Jesus was stepping outside the traditional bounds of the interpretation of the law that gave many Jews and Jewish orthodoxy an elitist attitude. God had shown the Jews His law, not for the purpose of Pharisaical elitism, but that the Nation of Israel should show forth His heart to the world. They could only show forth the heart of God by a correct understanding of their own pure hearts.
“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed” (V8).
Distance is no barrier to Jesus. Notice for a second time, the centurion refers to Jesus as “Lord.”
“Jesus, just say the word and he will be healed (paraphrase).” The centurion recognized Jesus’ power.
(V9) From his own life as a soldier, the centurion understood authority. In a realm of life (spiritual, not militarily), this centurion knew that Jesus had both the authority and the power to heal his servant. As a commander of soldiers, he recognized the power of an order given, that Jesus could simply speak the word or give the order and his servant would be healed.
(V10) In this verse, we find some special nuggets of truth that should bless our lives. Notice the literal response of Jesus to this Gentile’s words which are spoken from his heart showing forth his faith: “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 in all of Israel.’”
On various occasions, we have read that people were amazed, astonished, and marveled at Jesus’ teaching and authority. But on this occasion, we read that Jesus marveled. This example of faith from one outside the Jewish nation was a testimony to all inside the Jewish nation. The manner and depth of this man’s faith was an example for all. Jesus turns to the crowd and offers this man as an example of true “from the heart” faith.
What kind of example of faith do you show and witness to others?
(VV11-13) Jesus, for a moment, turns His attention toward the crowd. This centurion’s faith will serve as an example for all. But let us remember, it was ultimately not his faith that healed, but the object of his faith. The centurion looked to Jesus; placing his faith in Jesus. Matthew tells us that the servant was healed at that very moment (V13).
(VV11-12) As a testimony to what had just happened, Jesus turns His attention to the crowd. He tells the crowd that many others (Gentiles) will come to Him in faith. This centurion will be joined by many other Gentiles. Jesus offers to His listeners the truth that those who have less spiritual advantage (Gentiles) than those possessing the advantage and knowledge (Jews) would respond to the Gospel in faith.
Those who suppose they are advantaged, because of race, religion or nationality, will understand it is not by such things that one is made right with God. Those who have depended on such things will be doomed.
(V13) Jesus closes by turning His attention back to the centurion. “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”