Preached @ Anchor Community Church on September 14th, 2014
Matthew’s Intent is to show how Jesus taught and di miracles, authenticating His claim as the new “King/Messiah” (See Matthew 4:23 cf. 9:35). AS a matter of fact, we see that Matthew puts this information into his gospel topically to make a point, disregarding sequence and chronology. This is key to understand Matthew’s Intent. His goal is to Show Jesus’ Authority, which demonstrates who He is and what He has done. It is NOT to demonstrate the Centurions faith.
The big picture for the first 17 verses of Matthew 8 is to demonstrate Jesus’ power and authority over every form of brokenness as the promised Messiah.
Big Picture: Jesus demonstrates His power and authority over every form of brokenness as the promised Messiah
So in Matthew 8:1-17 we are looking at Five Distinct Truths About Jesus’ Authority.
Today: We will see 2 more truths about His Authority in verses five through thirteen.
From the Head…
Jesus’ Authority Is Derived From God the Father (vv. 5-9)
The thing to note immediately is the Centurions Compassion for his “Servant” (Slave). Centurions don’t usually care about their “Slaves” and most often the slaves were spoils of war, and were from another country. This may be Matthew’s way of showing that gentiles could live a godly life even though they were outside the covenant of Abraham and Moses.
What’s important here is how the Centurion understood Jesus’ authority? He immediately notes that he “Too” has authority granted by another power, and that when he speaks, he is speaking for Rome and the emperor. It is interesting that he does refer to Jesus as “Lord” (kurious), which would be reserved for Caesar, but we mustn’t jump to the conclusion that he understood the nature of Christ’s being; just that he had the utmost respect for Jesus, and knew that His authority came from God.
Next we see that the centurion comes to Jesus in humility (“I am not worthy”). Much like the way Jesus taught His disciples (See Matthew 5:3). His Faith is connected to Jesus’ Authority, and the belief (Trust) that Jesus could do this, because He had the authority.
Last week the emphasis of Jesus’ authority was on the shame of the leper. This was shown through the idea that the leper needed cleansing, not healing. This week, the emphasis is on nationalism and the fact that God’s covenant is for all people.
Jesus’ Authority is a Comfort to Those Who Trust and a Terror to the Religious (vv. 8:10-13)
Jesus marvels at this centurion’s faith, especially coming from someone outside of the covenant. This is Matthew’s emphasis; God’s plan was always to save the Nations by faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8-3:10). The contrast is between those that come to Him in humility, trusting in what He can do, versus those that see their salvation through their own means.
2 Important Points
Judgment is reserved for those that reject identity in Christ for another identity
Jesus speaks about Hell more than any other person in scripture. Kierkegaard posited the idea that “Sin is building our identity on anything but God.” Thus sin is taking a “Good” thing and making it an “Ultimate” thing. You may object and say that sin is breaking God’s law, which would be true, but it is not enough. Religious people believe that they are keeping the law of God. This is why the rich young ruler can say, “All these (Laws) I have kept from my youth” (Luke 18:21). Humans have a tendency to feel that if they keep things on the surface they are ok, but as we saw in Jesus’ teachings in 5-7, it is the sins of the heart that Jesus’ is concerned about. Sins of omission are just as devastating to the world as sins of commission. Biblical sin is not a contrast of Hitler versus Mother Theresa; the contrast here is between those that trust in Christ, and those that trust their own means of salvation.
Tim Keller says that, “Hell is a freely chosen identity based on something other than God, going on forever.” It’s a pride thing, and a rejection of God, and worship designed for Him and Him alone. As humans, we understand justice, and we believe that justice should be served, but the problem in our human justice systems is that they are fallible and often corrupt. God’s justice is perfect, and always deserving. Our problem is not that we don’t feel certain people “Deserve” justice, but that it is not fair that God judges “Good” people such as ourselves. Maybe justice works for those “Bad” people, but not for us.
Hell and God’s judgment highlight the delusional aspect of sin. If sin is rejecting God as our ultimate joy and authority, then hell makes sense, because it’s a place that we operate under our own authority, and pay the consequences for it.
CS Lewis hypothetically asked should God have done? Wipe out sins and start anew? He did that on the cross of Jesus. Just forgive them? Those heading for hell, aren’t asking for forgiveness; they’re defiantly working toward their own saving mechanisms. Leave them alone? That’s what hell is! Being left alone to our own devices, that in time will become obvious and inherently evil.
In our passage, Jesus indicates that those who are religious on their terms will not see the kingdom of God, because they fail to see their sin, and they fail to come to Christ in humility, repentance and faith. Many people believe in God, but their hearts are far away!
The problem in our culture is the test of religious fervor is measured by sincerity rather than truth. The gospel is based on truth, fact and the story of God’s redemptive love. In spite of its grace, mercy and love it is rejected by many.
“Belief” is a window to God’s Authority, not the conduit to God’s Power and Blessing
A second point found in verse 13, is that it is not the faith of the centurion that healed Him; it is the power of God for His purposes that did. He believed that Christ could do it. The Centurions “Faith” is linked to Jesus’ Authority. Theologian DA Carson wrote on this passage and said,
“…he does not mean that the miracle performed was in proportion to the man’s faith, even that the miracle was accomplished because of the man’s faith (Which would make the man’s faith the cause of healing), but rather that the content of the miracle would be what was expected by the centurion’s faith.”
Jesus isn’t compelled to heal because we ask Him, or we use the right words and believe really hard. He heals according to His purposes, plan and will, not ours.
…to the Heart
We come to Jesus Broken. We come to Jesus under His Authority. We come to Jesus in Faith. We are no different than the centurion or the leper. We come to Jesus, worshipping Him because He has this kind of authority, and because of what He has done for us on the cross. Matthew 5:3 told us how we “Inherit” the Kingdom of God; “Blessed are the poor in spirit, they will inherit the Kingdom of God!” There is no other way, then to humble ourselves, repent of our ways, and trust in Christ as our savior!
Questions To Ponder
- What is the significance of the centurion’s statement regarding authority?
- What part does faith play in this healing?
- Can God heal someone without faith?
- Do you expect God to always heal? Why? Why not?
For Further Reading
A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener
The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins
The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti
Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson