Matthew 8:5-13 ESV
5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
There were apparently at least two ways for the paralyzed servant to experience a miracle. Jesus could either show up and heal him or Jesus could just say, “let it be done…”
I have this tendency to like things done a certain way. When something isn’t to my pleasing I may even sink into self-righteousness and say, “it needs to be done right.” Clearly, I am the keeper of right and anyone offering any variant is doing it wrongly.
This mentality is seen constantly within Christianity. Our week went in such a way that left us needing this but the preacher talked about that– he must have gotten it wrong. My soul was excited and wanted to jump but they sang that other song and I couldn’t- they must have gotten it wrong. Unfortunately, there is no way for everyone to have their way which means someone(s) will walk away from every public gathering disappointed. And at home- a long day of an even longer week ends with this meal but what you really wanted was that. Clearly, whoever cooked that night must have gotten it wrong.
OR THE HIGHWAY
Life isn’t math. There isn’t a single solution.
The centurion wasn’t raised in a Jewish household. He had never left a vacant seat at the table during the Passover meal. He had been led to believe he was an outsider, unworthy of receiving the presence of God. As a result, his faith was not upon Jesus coming to the house. However, the centurion was a leader and understood authority. If the centurion could communicate a command and things would happen, certainly God could do the same. After all, the universe was created by the word of God (He 11:3). The centurion’s faith was in the unseen and therefore the greatest faith Jesus had encountered (Mt 8:10).
Faith is not fixed. Faith comes from hearing (Ro 10:17), faith is moving (2Cor 5:7), faith continues (Co 1:23). There is something about the continual unseen. Unseen victories, unseen peace, unseen function, unseen… This facet of faith is extremely frustrating. Isn’t strong faith evident by having what you want? No. Faith begins when a promise is made and faith grows when you still live according to that promise you don’t actually have. The centurion didn’t need to see Jesus do anything. He was confident in the unseen and this confidence was the greatest of faith.
Enter religion. In the absence of the seen, we attempt to speed the process up and in some ways heap to ourselves formulaic faith. I’m a sucker for this stuff. If you blog about 7 steps to effective communicating, I’ll read it. If an article advertises 3 ways to make your wife happy, I’ll read it. It’s much easier to read and apply than live and learn. Academically speaking, reading and applying is useful. Very useful. However, in relationships, there are times when you can’t just solve the equation. Sometimes, life is necessary. Living. Walking with God is not a religious ritual. Walking with God is a relationship. When we try to proceduralize our relationship with God by applying yesterday’s directions to today’s journey, we miss the dependence on Him. In this way, we are depending on the formula, not the conversation. The conversation is the point!
DIFFERENTLY THE SAME
A warrior named Joshua was one of the greatest military leaders in Israel’s history. His first personal victory was the battle of Jericho. Remember this one? His orders were clear- march around the walls of Jericho for a few days and on the last day get loud. However, another warrior named David who followed the Law of God faithfully wouldn’t conquer Jerusalem this same way. Jericho was conquered from the outside-in. Jerusalem would be defeated from the inside-out. In other words, the victory this day would look different than yesterday.
This only happens when we revere the conversation rather than the method.
One day Jesus healed a blind man with mud and a bath, another day he healed a blind man by laying hands on his eyes, another day he simply spoke.
Jesus healed many people by physically praying for them. His presence, His touch. But this wouldn’t be the faith of the centurion for this day. This day would see the word sent out to heal (Ps 107:20).
How will Jesus work among you today? If you never listen, you may never know.
Yesterday’s victories will not defeat today’s giants.