Last week, we began a new series entitled Rooted and throughout this series we’re going to be asking the question . . . What would it be like if you had an amazing, out of the box, kind of faith?
The kind of faith that no matter what happened you trusted God.
- When things are really bad, you think to yourself, “Well, that stinks but I trust that God will see me through it”.
- When you faced a huge temptation and you’re like, “I don’t know how in the world I’m going to avoid this but I have absolute trust that God is bigger than this and He will get me past it.”
What would that even look like?
Well, when you read the narrative of scripture, what you will see is this amazing story of God trying to build into people an extraordinary, out of the box, are you kidding me confidence in him.
The pattern is this . . . relationship built on trust followed by rules/covenant.
In other words, “Now that you trust me and we’ve established a relationship with one another, here’s how we will live in that relationship.
And these rules will create deep roots so that when things in life get a little difficult . . . and they will . . . you will be grounded in trust that I am your God and you are my people.
In the beginning, God created humanity out of his own image and placed them in the garden where they had a relationship built on trust and understanding that you are the creator and I am the created.
God gave them rules as to how they would live in relationship with one another in the Garden.
And the break between God and humanity wasn’t simply a matter of disobedience; where they did 3 out of 4, so God said, “Too bad, so sad . . . now get out.”
The thing that broke the relationship was our refusal to trust God. We decided, “God you’re withholding something from me and you can’t be trusted.”
And ever since then, God has been reworking the trust thing.
In the Old Testament, God created the nation of Israel to show the rest of the world what it was like to be in relationship with Him. And long before he gave the ten commandments . . . he reached into Egypt and said to Israel “Trust me and let me deliver you out bondage.”
And when he did, they were like, “Wow, what a great God! We trust you.”
Once they had established a trust based relationship God said . . . “Now, here are some rules that will help us grow in our relationship with one another.”
So, when we get to the New Testament, we shouldn’t be surprised that the driving message is God saying, “I want you to put your trust in me because I’m trying to re-establish a relationship between us.”
All of scripture is God wooing people back in to a trust based relationship with him.
This is so important to God, that he sent his only son to live among us and to die for us to re-establish the broken relationship. And this relationship is built on trust that Jesus is who he says he is.
So, if you were to ask me what I think God is doing in your life or where is God leading you . . . I can always tell you that he’s trying to teach you to trust him because that is the essence of relationship.
Good, healthy relationships are built on trust. If there is trust . . . the relationship can thrive. If there is a lack of trust, the relationship will struggle.
God wants you to trust him. God wants you to build deep roots of trust, so that when things get tough . . . and they will . . . your relationship with God remains strong.
And over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at some of the things that will help us get rooted in our relationship with God.
But today I want to think about this in a broader context . . . what does this kind of out of the box, are you kidding me, faith look like . . . thankfully, we have an example.
Let’s listen to our text: READ Luke 7:1-10
Jesus has been essentially kicked out of his hometown of Nazareth; they have rejected him, and so he set up a base of operations in a small town called Capernaum, maybe fifty or a hundred people who are simple, hard-working, regular, poor people.
As we enter this story, we find that Jesus has been on a bit of a preaching and teaching tour and he has just finished a sermon on faith to one of his biggest audiences of this tour and now he’s on his way back toward Capernaum for some well-deserved rest.
As Jesus entered the city limits, a group of elders from the synagogue were waiting for him. They told him that the local centurion had sent word for him that his servant was sick and suffering and near death and wanted Jesus to come at once.
Now, in a city like Capernaum, Roman centurions were the law. They commanded a company of a hundred soldiers, hence the name, “centurion.” They had a lot of authority, and power, and they could exert whatever force was necessary to keep the peace. They were to be respected, even feared.
And since Centurions were officers of the forces that were occupying Israel they were not typically liked by the Jews.
But this particular centurion stands out in several ways:
- He held the Jewish people in high regard and had a good relationship with them because he built them a church with his own money.
- But what really makes him stand out is that he loved his servant. In Jesus’ day, servants were non-entities. They were regarded as tools to be discarded and replaced when they wore out.
But this servant is someone he deeply cares about . . . and that is unusual.
And so he sends word to Jesus. “I need you to heal my servant.”
But he knows that it would be inappropriate and disrespectful for him to approach Jesus and make the request so he goes to the Jewish elders, and he asks them, “Guys, could you do me a solid and ask Jesus, to come and heal my friend.”
Well, the religious leaders . . . they really blow it. They decide that they will go speak to Jesus on his behalf but listen to what they say. “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
They’re saying, “Hey Jesus, you’ve got to help out here because this centurion, man, he’s worthy; he’s a really nice guy and he built our church . . . so, you’ve got to help him out because he deserves it.”
Do you see the message here? If we ask for someone to be healed, God owes it to us if we have shown ourselves worthy by what we do.
Put it another way, we deserve it. Just do right and God will reward you with whatever you want.
The other side of that argument then is if you are not worthy then you’re gonna get what’s coming to you . . . and it’s not going to be pretty.
Its karma; what you do create a cause and effect. If I do this then God will do that and if I don’t then God won’t.
God doesn’t owe us anything because our God is a God of grace . . . and grace by definition is to those who do not deserve.
And these religious guys . . . well, they just don’t get this.
So they come to Jesus and instead of asking him humbly, “Jesus, could you be gracious to this man?” They say, “He’s worthy because he’s nice to us and he build us a church. Honestly, you owe it to him”
Well, it’s as important to see what Jesus does do, as it is to see what He doesn’t do.
- He does go along with the elders to see the centurion and his beloved servant.
- But He doesn’t respond to their claim of his worthiness.
- It just says, “And Jesus went with them.” Jesus saw an opportunity and he took it.
- Remember, he has just finished preaching a sermon about faith and here’s his chance to show people the practical application.
But while the elders were making their case to Jesus about the worthiness of this man and how Jesus owes it to him . . . the centurion was back home thinking about what he had done. The more he thought about it, the more he believed this was wrong. It was asking too much.
“You know what? I don’t need to waste Jesus’ time. He’s got a lot of things to do, lots of people to see. Yeah, I’m rich and powerful but I am not worthy to have him come under my roof.”
So, before Jesus walked all the way there, the centurion sent friends out to meet Him and to give Him a message. “Forget it . . . don’t waste your time walking all the way to my house because I’m not worthy.”
Now listen closely to what he says, “I don’t deserve to have you come under my roof . . . but just say the word and my servant will be healed.”
You see, He understood the power of the authoritative word because he was a man given authority too. Just as the father sent Jesus with all authority, the Roman government empowers him. He tells his soldiers to go, they go. He says come here, they come. He tells them to do this or do that, and it’s done.
He was saying, “I know who you are, Jesus. You are the Lord of life, and you have command over sickness and death just like I have command over soldiers. You don’t need to come to my house to heal my servant. What was I thinking!? Just say the word and the sickness will obey you instantly.”
The centurion had put his finger on the essence of God’s power. Remember the story of creation?
Six times God spoke, and by the Word of God the creation came into being: The sun and the moon and the stars in the heavens; the day and the night and the seasons of the year; the land and the sea and the sky above; the plants and the trees and the fruit of the earth; the birds and the fish and all the animals of the field; men and women and the breath of life.
God created them all, and he did so by the power of His Word.
This Centurion is saying you are God, with all authority over creation. Say it, and it will be so.
Jesus looks at the man and it says that he was “amazed” by his faith. There are only 2 times in scripture that we’re told that Jesus was amazed . . . and they both have to do with faith.
- In Mark 6, when Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, it says that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith. He was stunned because his own people didn’t even recognize him.
- And here he looks at this man’s faith, and he’s once again amazed. Because this man knows that he is unworthy and yet by faith he makes a bold request. Not because of who he is or what he’s done, but because of who Jesus is.
And Jesus is amazed because he had never seen such faith not even in Israel where this kind of faith should have been exhibited!
And as a result of his faith, the issue of the sick servant was over . . . but it’s almost anti-climactic; it just says that they went back to the house and found the servant to be well.
You see, the point of this story wasn’t a sick servant miraculously healed by the power of God’s mighty Word –as if that wasn’t enough.
This story is about the enormous grace of the God, who would grant such faith to even a gentile.
Healing our sickness and diseases or taking away our pain and suffering – that may or may not happen – and if it does that’s only temporary but granting us faith in Jesus . . . now that’s a miracle!
Some people or some churches will try to convince you that there is something you need to do to receive God’s grace; be nice to be people, give to a building fund, follow these rules.
But this centurion was found to be worthy of God’s grace because of his unworthiness.
Jesus came along and he said to the world, “Can I have your attention please, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, the centurion. He doesn’t know squat about the Old Testament, he’s never been to church, and he couldn’t recite any of the ten commandments, but this man right here has more faith than anybody I’ve ever met and I’m astonished because that’s what I want for my people.
So . . .
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that there’s something you have to do or not do to receive God’s grace.
Don’t ever let someone look at your life and determine whether God could extend his grace to you, because it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do . . . it only matters what God has done and when you are willing to trust that . . . well, that’s the miracle!