I’ve been studying Matthew 5-10. Wow. If I were to advise a new believer on what to study first, I’d recommend two sections of the New Testament:
1. the book of John — this is one of the four Gospels, but written later than Matthew, Mark, and Luke
2. Matthew 5-10 — this contains Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and many of his miracles.
Let’s focus on one miracle from Matthew 8. Here is the text (verses 5-13):
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
Let’s set the stage. A centurion was a professional officer in the Roman army. They trained and fought alongside their soldiers. They were serious dudes. During Jesus’ time, the Romans ruled the Israelites, so it seems unusual that a Centurion would ask for help from an Israelite, let alone call him “Lord”. However, he did humble himself and request Jesus’ aid. To Jesus’ question, “Shall I come and heal him?”, he answered surprisingly. Rather than tell Jesus how he should help him (ever done that?), in great faith he says that Jesus only need say the word and healing would follow.
Next comes Jesus’ startling response. The text says “he was amazed“. Pause a moment to think that over. The centurion amazed Jesus…
In our desire to serve our God, I think we also often attempt to amaze Jesus. We engage in his church. We volunteer our time. We commit our finances. This is all great, but don’t miss the point of this story. Jesus comments only on the Centurion’s faith.
Would you like to amaze Jesus? Stretch your faith. Allow Him to be God in your life. Submit to His authority, present your requests by prayer and petition with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6), and see what happens!