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Great Jesus! Great Faith!

May 29, 2016

Jesus heals the centurion's slave

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Pentecost 2 (Proper 4)                 Trinity Lutheran Church

May 29 2016                                   Murdock, NE


+Jesu Juva +


Luke 7:1-10


“He is worthy. He deserves your help Jesus. After all, he cares for Israel and he has coughed up a lot of cold-hard cash to build our state of the art synagogue. He’s earned a favor from you Jesus. You owe him. So go ahead and heal his very valuable servant.”


Isn’t this absolutely incredible? It really is. For two reasons. First these Jews are speaking about a Gentile. Yes, that’s right, an unclean, uncircumcised Roman soldier in charge of one hundred, a centurion. Jews were always supposed to stay clear of Gentiles! Second, these Jews expect Jesus to do a quid pro quo, a tit for tat, this for that. The centurion’s kindness and hefty donations have certainly earned him a reward, right?. Surely his benevolence and offering merit something from Jesus, right? Say … the healing of his dying servant? Sure! You’d go along with that wouldn’t you? You’re all in too.


“The centurion is absolutely worthy to have you do this for him Jesus!” Why? “Well, it’s a no brainer! He loves Israel and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”


The centurion begs to differ. He doesn’t agree with you or his Jewish friends. This uncircumcised soldier. has attended synagogue long enough to learn the Old Testament Scriptures better than his Jewish friends! He has learned that worth, merit, entitlement, or due are not the Lord’s cup of tea!


As Jesus draws near his house the centurion sends friends with this incredible message: “Lord, do not trouble yourself, FOR I AM NOT WORTHY to have you come under my roof.” Did you hear that? I AM NOT WORTHY!” “I AM NOT WORTHY to have you step through the front door of my house, let alone come into my living room! Good grief, that’s precisely why I sent out messengers. I am so UNWORTHY that I don’t even dare to come out to speak to you!”


Again, this is utterly mind-blowing! Staggering! Coming from an unclean, uncircumcised Gentile soldier! A profession soldier! His entire professional life as a military man is one of merit, worth, one’s due. That’s the only way a soldier rises up the ranks. And yet before the Lord Jesus he knows He deserves nothing! Merits nil! Earns zilch! Is due zero!


He knows that he is only a beggar. One who can only be given to. So, he is utterly confident that all Jesus needs to do is preach a sermon. “But say the word and let my servant be healed.” After all, the centurion is a part of a chain of command. All he has to do is say a word and his soldiers under him obey him. Now, here is Jesus! He has the authority and power of God. So all He has to do is speak – like in the beginning – “Let there be light” or at this very moment “Let him be healed.” The soldier knows from the Old Testament that God’s Word does and gives what it says! “So just say the word Jesus! You’re Word is enough!”


At that point Jesus “marvels!” That’s when Jesus unloads: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. And when those who had been sent returned to the house found the servant well.”


Faith always looks to Jesus. Faith is big faith when Jesus is its object. Faith is little faith or no faith at all when it looks to itself and away from Jesus. Faith alone is the key to salvation. Faith ALONE in Jesus saves! Nothing else!


It takes a Gentile centurion to teach you this today! It takes a Gentile soldier to tell you the truth: “I am not worthy … just say the word. I trust you Jesus!”   That’s why the centurion loved Israel and helped build a synagogue at Capernaum. It is because he believed in Jesus. His faith naturally gave birth to those works of love – of self-sacrifice for the sake of others.


Incredible! Truly astounding!


Jesus too marvels at you Gentiles! At your faith! Today you look to Jesus for help. You say: “I am not worthy. Just say the word.”


And Jesus does. His sermon is the good news of forgiveness. His Good Friday forgiveness that gives you life and salvation. It’s so precious I want to say it to you again. “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”


Soon you’ll hear Jesus say the word again at Holy Communion. “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Your sin! All of your sin! Forgiven. He says so. His words do and give what they say.


Such forgiveness makes you well. The forgiveness Jesus speaks and gives will bear much fruit for you. Resurrection fruit. The Good Friday forgiveness that He earned and bestows on you will be for the healing of your body on the Last Day when Jesus says: “Wake up sleepy head! Time to get up! Arise!”


And then it will be your turn to marvel! With great and endless joy! Why? Because Jesus is Lord! And you are very precious to Him! Your resurrected body for life everlasting will prove it. “Just say the word Jesus!” He will! Thanks be to God!


In the Name of Jesus.


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