Friday, July 12, 2019
Every day we are surrounded by messages and influenced by desires to get more for ourselves. This even applies to the motivation some people have to seek out Jesus Christ. But Jesus never rejects them; he simply redirects their motivation to the right thing.
Luke 7:1-11 After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, the entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.
The Jewish elders became advocates for a Roman centurion because of the personal benefits he provided them. They called him “worthy” of the gospel because he built them their church. These elders had no interest in understanding the true Kingdom of heaven; they only wanted their personal kingdom protected. They saw Jesus as a means to an end, not the End itself!
Jesus recognized that the centurion had not made his request for the wrong motivation, so he went to see him. Along the way Jesus discovered the truth of the centurion’s heart – he was humble and broken, not considering himself worthy of anything the Lord had to offer him. He understood completely the authority of the Lord and compared it to his own military authority. What a contrast between him and the elders. One focused on his unworthiness and the Lord’s authority: the elders focused on man’s worthiness and the Lord’s obligation to help. Jesus made it very clear which perspective He honors when He said, “not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
Far too many Christians and churches proclaim Jesus gain an earthly advantage. We attempt to make Him palatable to a lost society by changing the message so it is less offensive. All that does is rob the cross of its power. Jesus honors only one kind of faith with salvation – a faith based on man’s total unworthiness and God’s total glory.
It is time to evaluate our own perspective of salvation. Is Jesus just a means to an earthly end for us? Do we believe He is obligated to help us because we are worthy of it? Must he heal us and provide wealth for us because we have done something to earn it? We must answer each of these questions with an authoritative and convincing “NO!” Paul’s words in Colossians 2:6 are powerful – Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. We received Jesus as Savior totally by faith in His grace, so what makes us think we can do anything now to deserve anything more?
Once we get that straight in our own lives, we will be able to spread the Good News more effectively because we will be spreading the right Good News. The Good News is not that Jesus will be your benefactor in heaven making your life sweet on earth. The Good News is that Jesus will save you from the horrible condition of your sin.
It is time for us to stop making the gospel politically and emotionally correct to the hearer, and start telling the Good News that Jesus saves from sin. Without a recognition of sin, the sinner cannot be saved. There must be repentance for salvation to happen, and repentance cannot happen without a recognition of sin.
Jesus healed the centurion’s servant because He recognized his faith – a faith that was based on his own unworthiness and the Lord’s authority to forgive sin. All salvation begins with that same faith. Let’s make sure we understand it, so we can tell that Good News to others.