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A Man Under Authority

November 12, 2023

Book: Luke

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Scripture: Luke 7:1-10

I want your confidence in Jesus to be so high you will trust him with everything, even when it matters the most. We will only have this confidence if we have a proper-sized view of ourselves and a proper-sized view of Jesus.

Note: This transcript was auto generated and may have errors.

The day. We have a very interesting moment in Jesus ministry to consider. It’s a moment when Jesus is amazed. Jesus is amazed. Do you know how hard it must be to amaze Jesus? I mean, he’s the author of all creation. Agatha Christie is a classic mystery writer. I love her work. If you’re not familiar with her, she wrote murder on the Orient Express, his most her most famous work. She writes so well that everybody has been amazed by her books since 1920, when she first published her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a book that she wrote on a bet. Someone bet her that she could not write a mystery where it was, so that where it would be impossible to spot the killer. And she did it. I read that book. I did not spot the villain, and so she amazed me. Do you know the only person who would not be amazed after reading that book? Agatha Christie? Agatha Christie would not be amazed by that book. The author of the mystery is never amazed by the ending of the book. Paul tells us that in his deity, Jesus is the one for whom and through whom all things were made, everything that was made. He is the God who is the creator. Paul says, in him all things hold together. That means that that that this created world that we live in, including our own bodies and our minds, all of it is under the sovereign control of Christ.

He is the omniscient God. He knows all things. He knows our steps before we take them. He knows our thoughts before we think them. He’s the author of the story from beginning to end, so you wouldn’t think that anything could amaze him. But we’ve also seen that Jesus, in his time on earth, in his human nature, has the same reactions and emotions that humans like you and I have. And in our story today, Jesus is going to have a moment where it says that he marvels. Jesus marvels over something. What is that thing that would cause our Savior and our Lord to to marvel? Well, it’s the strength of one man’s faith. Strength of one man’s faith. We’re going to see a man today demonstrate the strength of his faith in Jesus. And this will be no ordinary demonstration. This is not going to simply be a confession of faith, right? It’s not going to be just him saying he has faith. This is this is going to be an act of faith that’s expressed in, in when everything is on the line. When everything is on the line. And in looking at this death defying, truly death defying act of faith, you and I will not only learn something about Jesus, we’re going to get a vision of faith that will inspire us to continue to build our own confidence in Christ. So I want your confidence in Jesus to be so high that you will trust him in everything.

In every situation, even when it matters the most. But you only have this confidence if we have a proper sized view of ourselves and a proper sized view of Jesus. So if you have your Bible, please go ahead and open them to Luke chapter seven. We’re going to begin in verse one today. It will not be on the screen. So go ahead and grab your Bible and look that up. Look it up on your phone. I’m going to read the story all at once this morning, so you can get a full picture of this moment, this full picture of what takes place. And then we’re going to dissect this act of faith. We’re going to look at who this man is, how he sees himself, and most importantly, how he sees Jesus. And by doing this, we’re going to see faith that marvels and amazes Jesus himself. So Luke chapter seven, beginning in verse one, please follow along with me. After he’d finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he 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 him to the 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 under 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. Well, let’s begin by looking at this centurion because it’s his faith that is the point of the entire passage. A lot of times when we read about Jesus miraculous healings, the point of the story is to give us a picture of God’s kingdom. That’s that’s often what the miracle is picturing for us. The miracle is designed to teach us something that’s true about the Lord. This miracle story is also designed to tell us something about spiritual realities. But this time it’s not describing God’s kingdom, it’s describing marvelous faith.

In fact, you’ll you’ll notice at the end of the story, it doesn’t even say that Jesus heals the servant. Did you notice that? It doesn’t even say he healed him. It just says when they showed up, he was healed. The healing is assumed. The focus of the story is on the guy and the sort of faith that he has in Jesus. So we have to ask, who is this guy? Well, kind of surprisingly, he is a Roman centurion. Now, this is another one of those moments in Scripture where we have evidence for just how historically authentic and reliable the Bible is, because if you’re going to make up a story, if you’re just going to make up a story about somebody who has tremendous faith and and spiritual insight, you’re not going to pick a Roman centurion as your hero. You’re just not going to do that. If you’re a Roman centurion is part of the ruling class that’s occupied the promised Land and is despised by some. It’s they’re tolerated by others, but they’re embraced by nobody. Okay. These Jewish scriptures, these these writings would not have been written with a Roman centurion as the hero unless the Roman centurion was the hero. Right? There are some Roman officials that have come to have some respect among the Jews. And the centurion here is one of them. Apparently, this centurion had some help in hand in helping the people build their synagogue.

A synagogue is a is a regional building where Jewish people come to to pray. They would gather there for prayer. It’s not the same thing as the Temple in Jerusalem, but it was a very important place of worship, sort of a regional place for worship. So for this centurion to use his men and his resources to build a Jewish place of worship for the people is a significant show of camaraderie on his part. And I would say that it is probably a sign that this centurion has become a proselyte, which is a non-Jewish convert to Judaism. It doesn’t say that he is, but it’s a good indication that he may be based on what happens in this story and this man’s surprising insight into who Jesus is. I’m going to guess that he’s either a worshiper of the Lord himself, or he is leaning in that direction. He’s what we would call in theological terms, a good dude. And that’s what this, this first group of men have to say about him. Look again there at verse three. The centurion has a servant who is highly valued by him. He’s probably a good servant. And the centurion is clearly a very compassionate guy. And so he sends a group of Jewish elders to appeal to Jesus, to come and to to help and to heal his servant. As the as the Jewish elders add to the message, they ask Jesus to come heal the servant, but they they add that this centurion is is worthy to have Jesus come because of the love that he has for the Jewish nation and and the good that he’s done in building this synagogue.

Now we’re going to talk a little bit more about this worthiness in just a second. But before we look at the worthy part, I want us to have a good view of this centurion’s faith that he is already shown prior to reaching out to Jesus. This this trust that he’s showing in Jesus is not a flying leap of faith. That’s what we need to see. It’s not a flying leap of faith. It’s not some last ditch effort to try to get something that might work. This is a person who either knows the Lord or is at least already respectful of the Jewish God. So his appeal to Jesus extends out from a deep reverence for the Lord and for the nation of God’s people. What he’s doing here is he’s building on prior faith. I think sometimes people who are desperate because of some problem, that they have something that’s going on in their lives, some they’re just desperate for a solution. They they have a approach to prayer and trust in Jesus. Like, like it’s some sort of a magic wish. Just a I hope this will happen. I will do whatever I just need. The problem solved. They’re thinking, hey, maybe, maybe Jesus will work.

Maybe, maybe any type of prayer will work. There’s no prior trust or belief in Jesus. There’s there’s no surrender to Christ or a desire to hope, to find hope in Christ beyond this momentary hope that the problem will be solved. And you see this sort of what I call kind of a shotgun faith approach when people ask all their praying friends to pray for them or send good thoughts or good vibes their way. You’ve seen this before. Yes. And it just sort of a I hope everybody does anything so that my, my problem gets solved, that that person doesn’t really care how the how the problem gets solved. All that matters is that is that it does get solved and that things get better. There’s no serious desire on that person’s part to to know the truth and then have the truth set them free. But here we have that. Here we have prior faith. This is this is a non-Jewish man who loves God’s nation. He’s built a house of worship, probably because of his reverence for the Lord, and is now hearing about a rabbi who appears to be a man of great power and wisdom. And so his request for healing is another step of his growing faith. That’s what we’re seeing here, and that’s what I want for this church to, by the way, that’s what I want. I want for Calvary. That’s what I want for you.

My hope is that that that the trials that are brought into your life will be opportunities to you. They don’t feel like opportunities. I get that trials aren’t fun. Pain isn’t fun, but I hope that you will see them even as you’re struggling with them, as opportunities for you to grow even deeper in your faith in Jesus. I hope this this happens to the point that your faith would would be a marvel to Jesus, that it would fit what we’re seeing in this passage when the most difficult trial comes your way. I want that to be the moment where there is an amazing display in your life of supernatural, Christ glorifying faith. Now let’s turn to this this question of worthiness. Okay. What is this? You probably saw that the crowd that the word worthy is used in two different places in this story. The the first is in verse four when the Jewish elders are describing the centurion, they think Jesus should come and heal the his servant, because this centurion is worthy. Now, for those of you who know the gospel, those of you who’ve been following Jesus and you love God’s grace, and you’ve you’ve walk with Christ for for a while, you’re probably a little uncomfortable with the worthy language I know I am when you see that word worthy. Good news, after all, is a gift of salvation that we get by faith despite being unworthy of it, right? We’re unworthy of God’s blessing, and yet we receive it.

That’s that’s grace. So when people who get the gospel start hearing words like worthy or even worse, deserve right? When you start, when you start hearing words like that, we want to we want to slap that that idea down, right? No, no, no, I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy, I don’t deserve. And by the way, that’s a very healthy view of the gospel, if that’s what you’re saying. In fact, it’s the view that the centurion has of himself, which we will see here in just a moment. But but I don’t want to be too hard on the Jewish elders here, because Jesus isn’t hard on them at all. In fact, he just he goes along with them. He’s he’s seemingly in agreement with them. These these guys don’t mean that this centurion has earned God’s favor, and that he has some kind of a right to demand that Jesus be with him. All they mean is that this centurion has shown tangible displays of love and service to God’s people. So his faith makes him the sort of man that Jesus would want to help. In fact, the Abrahamic Covenant says that that it contains this promise that God’s that that God will bless the nations, that bless God’s people. Remember that. And so this this fits right in with with God’s Word. And Jesus has been helping people who trust in him, right? That’s what he’s been doing throughout his ministry.

People come and they show faith in Jesus and and he heals them. So these these elders are simply saying, this is a man who loves the Lord, and now he trusts in you, Jesus. That’s that’s how the elders see him. But let me ask you, how does the centurion see himself? How does he see himself? There’s nothing wrong with the elders describing this man as worthy of Jesus attention. But there would be something very wrong if the centurion sent the elders there to tell Jesus how worthy he is. Do you see the difference there? If he had sent a team of people out. Go tell him how worthy I am. You see the difference? It’s a matter of the heart. And let me tell you, church, if you can see the difference here, it’ll help you unravel one of the biggest problems in Christian spirituality today. If you can see the difference between those two things, it’ll help you really solve one of the biggest problems. Some some people do things like show love and good works in order to show God how worthy they are of his blessing. That’s their motivation. And that is a misunderstanding of the gospel that will only create pride in your heart because you’ll think God owes me now. I deserve this now. Some, however, express their faith out of a true heart, love and a gratitude for the Lord and what he has done for them in Christ.

And that is a true understanding of the gospel of grace. See, the first makes a big deal out of you. The second makes a big deal out of Jesus. The first would be a broken, faulty understanding of faith. The second would be a true faith expressed in gratitude. So again, which one is it for? The centurion here? How does he see himself? Well, you can see his heart in verses six and seven. Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. That’s the second worthy. Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. See the second set of friends who come to talk to Jesus have a personal message from the centurion. It’s not like the elders remember when the elders came? They spoke on behalf of the centurion. Now the second group comes. They have a personal message. Now he’s speaking for himself, which you can tell from the first person pronouns. You see that I am not worthy. This is a message they’re bringing from the centurion. There are two different words for worthy that are used in this passage. The first, used by the elders, is just a standard word for someone who deserves something. But the second word has more to do with the size of something. Okay, it’s got more of a shading toward the size. So. So if I’m reading the nuance of this word correctly, the centurion is saying I am not a big enough deal.

I’m not a big deal. I’m not big enough for you to come to me. The. The elders said that this man is worthy of Jesus’s attention because of his show of love and faith. He’s the kind of man you would want to help Jesus, and he proves it here, because part of the show of faith is to say, Jesus, I’m not worthy of you. I’m not worthy of you. I’m not a big enough deal for you to come and to spend your precious time with me. So the centurion’s faith has caused him to both act in loving, good and kind ways toward God’s people and to see himself as beneath the Lord. To see himself as a servant. There’s a there’s a lot of talk today about how to view yourself in a healthy way. How do I see myself? How do I how do I have a healthy view of myself? Most of the secular voices say that a healthy view of yourself is to have a higher view of yourself. You want to think of yourself better. Think of yourself as higher. The magazine Psychology Today offers eight tips for building up your self esteem. Some of the suggestions are actually pretty good things like exercising and forgiving people. Those are good things to do. Others are less helpful, like channeling your inner rock star or. Repeating into a mirror the things that you want to believe about yourself.

Those are actual suggestions. Inner rock star. Tell yourself you’re great in the mirror this afternoon. What every one of those tips has in common. Every, every tip that that was that’s listed in that article had in common, is the building up of an incredibly high view of yourself that you need to start thinking about yourself more highly. You need to start building yourself up. See yourself as the person of highest value, and make your goal to think of yourself this way at all times. I want to tell you at church, though, the gospel is different than that. The gospel is different counter to our culture. The gospel says that the healthiest view of yourself is to see yourself in relation to the glory of God, not in relation to the glory of yourself, but in relation to the glory of God. And you might think, well, hold on a second, Carl. Wouldn’t that make me very small then? Yes, yes it will. It will make you very small. But but listen to me now. That’s reality. Don’t tell yourself things that aren’t true. That’s reality. We are very small compared to the glory of the God who made us. We are very small. That’s the truth. And truth sets you free. You’re not going to be mentally and spiritually healthy by puffing yourself up with affirmations of grandeur and glory that don’t align with the reality of God’s creation.

You’re just not going to. You’ll be mentally and spiritually healthy when you recognize who you are in light of your creator and why he made you. When you get that right, then you will see yourself properly. Properly. He made you to experience happiness and love and joy by basking in his glory through a life of worship and service. That’s why he made you. And when you recognize that, that’s when you flourish as a person. I’m not. I’m not suggesting that the centurion knew all of that in this, in this story and all the ways that we know it now, having seen Jesus after his resurrection and experienced the power of His Spirit in our lives. But but look at the centurion’s view of of Jesus. The the centurion doesn’t feel that that he is worthy for Jesus to come into his house, but he also knows that he doesn’t need Jesus to physically come into his house. And that’s because he recognizes something about Jesus that really hasn’t been obvious to anybody in the book of Luke up to this point. And that’s that. Jesus does not need to be physically present to work in power. He doesn’t have to be right there. See, all the people to this point in the story have been coming to Jesus to be healed, right? We’ve seen people do extraordinary things to come to Jesus for guys dug a hole in the roof to lower their friend down so that he could be in the presence of Jesus so he could be right there face to face with Jesus.

Wouldn’t you love to have been there when they found out they didn’t need to do that? Oh, we could have saved a whole afternoon. Are you kidding me? Wow. It does not tell us specifically how this this centurion gained the insight into to who Jesus is and what he’s able to do. But based on what he says, it appears to be a combination of what he has heard about Jesus, what he has learned from the Jewish people, and his own experience as a soldier in the Roman army. In fact, that’s the one that he points to. That’s that’s the experience that he points to when he explains to Jesus why he doesn’t need to come through his friends. This is a man who is under authority. He understands that under the centurion there are soldiers that have to do what he says because he is their authority. So the centurion receives his commission from those who are over him, and then he commands the work to those who are under him. And so now he hears about Jesus, this this teacher and prophet from the the nation of the Jews who he loves. He’s healing the sick. And he thinks to himself, this is a man who carries the authority of God. This is a man who carries the authority of God.

And now, now commands and wields the power of God. And if that is the case, if he sent by God to heal the world, then. Then he doesn’t need to come to my house any more than I need to go complete the work of the soldiers that I send out to do my work. The centurion doesn’t have to be present for his men to follow his orders. They, at the penalty of their lives, they would do what this centurion told them to do. And if that’s true of a mere soldier, how much more true would it be for the one who has the authority and the power of the creator? Who can undo sickness. And heal people. Now this is where we need to remember who Luke is writing for. This book was written after Jesus ascension for every reader of this gospel, including you and me. We no longer have Jesus here physically with us, do we? We can’t. We can’t go sit down and chat with Jesus this afternoon. Sometimes you’ll hear people struggle through their faith and they’ll say things like, well, if we could just have him here. If Jesus could just be here now, it it’d be so much easier to trust in Jesus if he was right here with us. And the right response to that is is is two fold. First of all, we do have Jesus right here with us now in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides us into all righteousness, who shows us and empowers us to walk in the footsteps of Christ.

We have the Spirit of Christ. But the other answer, the one that we don’t often say is that is that faith in Jesus, even when he walked on the earth, didn’t require his physical presence even when he was here. It didn’t require his physical presence, nor was his physical presence required for Jesus to wield the power of the Lord under the authority of the father. Your faith in Jesus shouldn’t waver because you can’t physically look at him, because even those who could didn’t need to. They didn’t need to. And touching Jesus physically isn’t required for his healing or his blessing, because it wasn’t even required when Jesus was here to make that possible. This. This faith is what astonishes Jesus. It was already beyond the simple faith of many people in Israel at that time. In some ways, it was like Post-resurrection faith. What this centurion is displaying is almost like he was on the other side of Jesus resurrection and ascension. Because this faith looked beyond Jesus as a mere man and trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior of the entire earth. Now, again, I’m not suggesting the centurion had all that figured out that he knew all of those things, but what he knew, in part, we can now see plainly to Jesus. This is astonishing. Faith. Faith in him that’s so strong, so sure, so, so confident in who he is that a person can say, Jesus, say the word, and you can make everything right.

I’ve got to say that is a challenge to my faith. When I read about this centurion, I think my faith is inadequate. A lot of times I’m a lot more like the apostle Thomas, who, even after being told that Jesus was raised from the dead, said, I’ve got to see the holes in his hands before I’ll believe. I sometimes slip into a weak sort of faith that says, I’ll trust in Jesus after he shows up. After I see the display of power that God has. Then. Then I will put my trust in God’s goodness. Thankfully, God’s grace to us is not contingent on the strength of our faith that we bring to the relationship, but comes only from the strength of Jesus work on our behalf. But we should still be growing in our faith. And this centurion’s faith that marveled Jesus gives us a way to measure it. So I want to know how I’m doing in my faith. Well, this this passage gives us a way I suggested at the beginning of our time here that our confidence in Christ will grow if we have a proper sized view of ourselves and a proper sized view of Jesus. And I believe that the centurion’s faith is the Lord’s gift to us this morning. So the first question you have to ask yourself is, do you have a proper sized view of yourself? Are you seeing yourself correctly? Do you see yourself as a creature before your creator? A servant before your king? A good soldier in the Lord’s army.

It’s quite a cancer to the soul. When a person starts seeing the blessings of the Lord as something that they earned. Or something that they deserve because of what they’ve done. But when you see yourself before the Lord as a as a servant of the king. As a as a as a soldier. Given commands in your heart is in the right place for you to be able to display astonishing faith. But it’s not enough just for you to see how small you are before the Lord. That would not be enough. That’s not the whole story. Just to see yourself as small before God, because you have to have a proper sized view of Jesus. So I’d ask you, church, do you also at the same time have a proper sized view of Jesus? Do you see him as the Savior, God, who has all the authority and commands all the power over his creation? Do you do you trust that by His Word, through the power of His spirit, all things do his bidding and align according to his will. And do you trust that the Lord is at work conforming all things to the good of those who trust in him? Because that’s what he’s doing. He is. He is that great and powerful and kind and merciful. Let’s pray.

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