January 26, 2020

Sermon for Epiphany Three, Sunday January 26, 2020

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Passage: Matthew 8:5-13
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Sermon for Epiphany Three – Sunday January 26, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Matthew 8:5-13 (NKJV)
5 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.

In the Name of Jesus Christ,
In whom our prayers are heard,
Whose power and authority we respect,
Who blesses our faith through His Word,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Precious Blood –

It’s a natural human tendency. I don’t know if it’s more common among male or female, but we all do compare ourselves to other people. Whether it’s an athlete or a movie star, we look at ourselves and at our perception of them to see how we are different and how we are alike.

But we don’t only compare ourselves to strangers. Very often children compare themselves to their siblings or friends. As a result, some children try and ‘measure up’ to an older sibling or friend while others strive to surpass them. We don’t stop comparing ourselves when we grow up either.

It is a temptation, even for adults, to compare ourselves to fellow Christians. Is it fair to say that we compare favorably to each other because we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt?!?!

Finally, it’s also a natural tendency to compare ourselves to those we read about in Holy Scripture. It can be a good exercise to ask ourselves how we would have fared in the same circumstances…but only if we are truly honest with ourselves.

As we consider the Word of God before us this morning, we’ll ask ourselves: “Are you like the Centurion?” Where we exhibit godly attitudes…we will thank God, not ourselves. Where we exhibit sinful attitudes…we ask that God forgive us for Jesus’ sake. May God the Holy Spirit thereby lead us to thank and praise our Heavenly Father for granting us the Holy Spirit and a humble faith that seeks the blessings of His Word. Amen.

Are you like the Centurion?

5 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.”

We can’t help but see the humility of the Centurion.
We see it in the way that He came to Jesus… and in the fact that He didn’t even come to Jesus Himself.

Wait…doesn’t it say that a Centurion came to Jesus? In this case the request of the Centurion is described as having come from the man himself, but the parallel account found in Luke’s Gospel further illustrates the man’s humility. Luke’s Gospel reveals that the Centurion sent his request, he pleaded with Jesus through others. But he didn’t dis-respect Jesus by sending one of his servants with this request…he chose the respected Jewish Elders.

Are you like the Centurion? When you or a family member are sick or facing an important decision…do you ask that others pray for you? Do you ask your fellow Christians to pray for you…or are you too proud? Do you think that it’s your problem and no one else need know?

We ought to ask one another to pray for us. After all, the Lord Himself reminds us in James 5:16:

16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

We see his humility in how He spoke to Jesus.
The Centurion was a man used to giving orders. Yet, when he came to Jesus, He didn’t tell Him what to do…he merely revealed the situation. He said literally, “My child is thrown down in the house lame, being terribly tormented.” The Gospel of Luke indicates that the servant had been sick for some time…and was about to die.

I can’t help but ask, am I like the Centurion in my prayers? Do I come to Jesus with the same humility? Do we come to Him asking that His will be done or do we demand this outcome or that? Are my prayers… requests or demands? If your prayers sound more like a laundry list of demands…is that because you don’t trust the Lord to do what is best for you or your loved one? May God forgive our doubts and increase our faith through His Word. May He call to our remembrance all the times in days past when He richly and daily provided all our needs of body and soul.

We can’t help but see the love of the Centurion for his servant. It’s not just that he humbled himself and brought his request to Jesus…but in the fact that he literally calls his servant...my child. He didn’t think of his servant as a slave, but as a member of the family. He didn’t think his business was more important than His servant. We might pass over the love of the Centurion….

We shouldn’t miss the Love of Jesus. He responded immediately, without qualification.

7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

I won’t ask if your love is always like Jesus’ love. After all, this account really isn’t about the Centurion or you or me, is it? We tend to make most things about US.

This account is really all about Jesus. So take a look. Take a moment to revel in the Love of the Savior…because He has the same love for you that He showed the Centurion. He loves you so much that He was completely willing, without reservation, to be punished for your sins, and to endure the separation of Hell so that you never have to face it.

Jesus love is pure and without pretense. Jesus willingness to forgive is not dependent upon our worthiness. He doesn’t demand that we deserve His love and forgiveness. He doesn’t first extract some promise or form of payment. He doesn’t play favorites. He comes to us and would speak to every human being in His Word. He proves that He has the power and the desire to forgive us. He offers us forgiveness, assuring us that we are forgiven without strings.

Was it Jesus immediate reply that caused the Centurion to second-guess his request?

8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.”

The Centurion’s humility was not merely the result of social differences. We can see from his own words that he did not believe that He was worthy of having Jesus entering his home. When Jesus drew near, He sent another delegation according to Luke (7:6) expressing his unworthiness, and his confidence in Jesus WORD.

Why did the Centurion change his mind…was his house a mess and his wife went into a panic? NO…it was rather that He saw clearly by means of God’s Law that He was a mess in the sight of God. Pride and presumption is not usually a problem with those who see clearly their sin and unworthiness before God.

God help us that we humble ourselves before the Savior, recognizing our unworthiness. For God will not despise, but will receive those who come to him with a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). This Gentile, this Centurion even believed that Jesus had divine power!

Wait, do you suppose I’m giving the Centurion too much credit? We can see from his own words that he believed Jesus had divine power and authority even over sickness and disease! He believed that Jesus could do what only God can do…heal with a Word…and he expressed that confidence saying:

“But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.”

He recognized Jesus’ authority and he expressed it like a military man would…

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 Centurion was certainly a man of authority. He had 100 soldiers under his command. When he spoke those under him did what they were bid without question. But the Centurion wasn’t commenting on his power or even comparing himself to Jesus.

He was explaining why Jesus didn’t need to be present to heal his servant. If the Centurion’s authority made his Word sufficient to send this soldier on his way and call another to his side and to command work of another…then surely Jesus Word would command still greater authority.

He was saying: “Lord, You have the authority and power to just say the word, and sickness will obey you and flee.” He ascribed to Jesus the very power of God.

Are we like the Centurion? We say that we believe that Jesus has the power and authority to heal our sicknesses…but what about where the rubber meets the road? When sickness comes do we turn first to the doctor and his medicine? Do we say from the heart…Lord, I believe that you can heal me if it is your good will?

If we do, then praise God that He has granted us such a faith. May he lead others to inquire about our hope and certainty and may we direct them – not to ourselves – but to Christ Jesus, who wields all power in heaven and on earth on our behalf.

Jesus rejoices in those who completely and totally trust in Him…they are His Church. They will be gathered from the face of the earth to sit down with their spiritual forefathers, who also trusted in Him.

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.”

Do notice, Dear Christians, that Jesus didn’t credit the Centurion with obtaining his faith. The Holy Spirit granted the Centurion his child-like faith. So also your faith is a gift of God.

Moreover, the words that follow serve both as a warning and as a reason to rejoice for us today.

They are first a warning that we do not turn from Christ. God provided the Jewish people with His Word, His Covenant and His Promises. He protected them from their enemies. But when the Savior finally arrived they did not believe in Him. Those who do not believe in Christ when He returns in glory will be cast into the outer darkness and forever separated from God and His goodness. God preserve us from taking the Savior for granted or despising His Word!!

These words are also a source of joy for us, who like the Centurion are Gentiles. Christ’s Church is made up of peoples of all nations who have been granted a faith like this Centurion.

There is a place set at God’s table…for all who humble themselves before the Savior Jesus, recognize him as the very Son of God, and trust in Him for salvation.

Are you like the Centurion?

Yes, for you are sinners who have been led to see your sins and confess your unworthiness before GOD.
Yes, for you have received God’s love and forgiveness by faith in Christ.
Yes, for you recognize and confess that Jesus is God.
Yes, and you too have a place at God’s table…through God’s abundant grace and mercy.

Blessed Are the Sons of God, They are bought with Christ’s own blood;
They are ransomed from the grave, Life Eternal they shall have:
With them numbered may we be Here and in eternity!

They are justified by grace, They enjoy the Savior’s peace;
All their sins are washed away, They shall stand in God’s great Day;
With them numbered may we be Here and in eternity!

Amen.