MIRACLES OF JESUS PART 3

A CENTURIONíS FAITH VERSUS

THE DISCIPLES FAITH

 

As we continue to examine some the miracles of Jesus, not only are we going to see some amazing things that Jesus did, we will also see the difference between a centurionís faith and faith of Jesusí disciples. Let us begin with our text in:

 

Luke 7:1 Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum.2 And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die.3 So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant.4 And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving,5 "for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue."6 Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.7 "Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.8 "For I also am a man placed under authority, having 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."9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.

 

This encounter is also recorded in Matthew 8:5-10. Before we get into our text, I want point out that Lukeís account makes it clear that this centurion, sent the Jews and his friends to speak on his behalf. He did not actually talk to Jesus directly. If you read, Matthewís account it kind of sounds like he did speak directly to Jesus, but Lukeís account shows us that their conversation happened through representatives of the centurion. Just as if the president of US sends a ambassador to speak for him, it just as if the president himself was there speaking the words. So, there is not contradiction in these accounts.

 

A centurion was a Roman solider who was put over 100 men. Though it was rare for a Roman leader to be a believer in God, this man was. He reminds me of the Cornelius who was also a centurion who feared God. To me, I can see this man being a great leader because of his faith and his great compassion.

 

According to Matthew, he had this servant that had become paralyzed. Instead, of just casting the man out and replacing him with healthy servant, he sought to have this man healed because he was dear to him.

 

We learn that he had heard about Jesus and what He could do. This man had no doubts in what he heard, and he sent the Jews to go plead for him. The fact that these Jews were will to go on behalf of this man shows just how big of an impression he had made on these local Jews. After all, he made possible for them be able to build a synagogue. Obviously, this man was well off and he wasnít afraid to use his money for good.

 

Of course, Jesus was moved by their pleas and he went with them to go heal the servant. In fact, in Matthewís account we read:

 

Matthew 8:7 And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."

 

As Jesus was making his way to the centurionís house, apparently some ran ahead and told him that Jesus was on his way because he now sends his friends to him as we read again in:

 

And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.7 "Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.8 "For I also am a man placed under authority, having 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."

 

This man could not be any more humble. Though he was an important man that commanded others, he did not feel worthy to come to Jesus himself or to have him come to his home. His faith was so strong in Jesus even though he never has seen the man or witnessed one of miracles with his own eyes. He believe, that just as he can command one of his men to go do something and will be done that Jesus can command that this disease will leave his servant without him even having to be in the same room as him.

 

Jesus response:

 

9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!"10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.

 

This was a big statement from Jesus because He saying that this Gentile had showed more faith in Him than anyone He had came across in Israel, which included the apostles. Just as the Centurion believed, Jesus was able to make his servant well, even without touching him.

 

As Christians, we need to be humble like this centurion and have faith in Jesus even though we have not seen him, or seen His miracles with our own eyes. As Jesus told doubting Tomas:

 

John 20:29 Ö "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."††††††

 

Since this centurion had this great faith, it prompted Jesus to reveal that the Gentiles were going to part of Godís kingdom as well as we read in:

 

Matthew 8:11 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.12 "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

 

Now that we have seen how great this centurionís faith was and have seen this great healing miracle Jesus did from a distance. Let us now take a look another miracle that will show why this centurionís faith was greater than the apostleís faith.

 

This next miracle we will examine is the calming of the sea and is recorded in Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, and Luke 8:22-25. We are going to looks at Markís account because it gives more details.

 

Mark 4:35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side."36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.40 But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

 

There are several times that disciples found themselves on Sea of Galilee. This time away from the multitudes following Jesus gave them some time to rest up. The Sea of Galilee is pear shaped and approximately covers 13 miles north and south and 8 miles east and west. It greatest depth is 400 feet. It was a great source of fishing during Jesusí day and it is still one today. This sea is subject to violent storms that can happen quickly.

 

Dehoff says:

 

The Sea of Galilee is subject to violent storms; powerful thermo-drafts are created by the high mountains encircling it. Frequently strong winds funnel through the mountain passes to sweep the sea with sudden storms. Here Jesus miraculously stilled the storm (Mk. 4:35-39), and on another occasion walked on the water (Matthew 14:22-34).

 

This storm that came across the sea that day was very severe. The waves were beating against the boat and the boat was taking on water and filling up. Lukeís account says they were in jeopardy. Just think, if this bigger boat was taking this kind of abuse from the storm, imagine how the smaller boats were fairing. We know that at least 4 of Jesusí apostles made their living from this sea, and they would have been familiar with these sudden storms, but even they were afraid of what happening, which shows how bad it really was; so much for having some rest while crossing this sea. While Jesusí disciples were freaking out about the storm, what do we find Jesus doing:

 

38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow

 

Jesus was getting His much needed rest despite what seemed like a dire situation. His disciples couldnít stand it anymore; they went Jesus and woke Him up. Lukeís account show how frantic they were:

 

Luke 8:24: And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!"

 

Saying master twice showed their anxiety. Also notice what they said according to the other two accounts:

 

Mark 4:38 "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

Matthew 8:25 "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"

 

These responses indicate that they believed Jesus might be able to do something to help them out, but as we will see they were not expecting Jesus to do what He did:

 

39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.40 But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

 

Jesus had showed His disciples many miracles of healing, casting of demons, causing huge catch of fish, etc, but they had not seen Him control the wind and the sea. Nonetheless, Jesus was disappointed with them because of their lack of faith. They should have realized by now that with Jesus being with them, that they would be ok even in a severe storm.

 

Here is where we see that His disciples still lacked a long ways from having the faith of the Centurion. It is sad, but true that these men who had been with Jesus and saw with their own eyes what He was able to do had much less faith than an Gentile Centurion who had not seen Jesus or one of His miracles with His own eyes.

 

When Jesus rebuked the wind and told the Sea to be calm it happened instantly. His disciples were in awe. They could hardly believe their own eyes of the great miracle that Jesus achieved.

 

One application we can make from this is that we must put our complete faith and trust in God realizing that no matter how big the storms are in our life that beat away at us, we must not lose hope. God is there for us, and if we allow Him, He can calm those storms in our life so that we can be at peace. As the Psalmist says:

 

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

 

You would think that after seeing what Jesus could do with the wind and the sea that His disciples would now have the faith of the Centurion especial after they saw Jesus feed 5000 men not including women or children with a few fish and loaves of bread. However, as we will see, they were increasing their faith some, but they were still sorely lacking.

 

John 6:16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.

 

These events are also recorded in Matthew and Mark, and they offer additional information to Johnís abbreviated account.I will put these events in the most logical order that makes sense to me. Jesus has sent His disciples away and apparently He told them He would meet them later. As they were on their way, a great wind came across the lake that was making it difficult for them to make headway. At that point, they were halfway across the lake somewhere around 3 Ĺ miles (Mt. 14:24; Mk. 6:47). Markís account says Jesus saw them straining at rowing because of the strong wind (Mk. 6:48).

It would have been nice to have a motor on that boat, but of course those did not exist then so they would have to fight that strong head wind with their rowing.

 

Another thing that would have made things difficult for them was the size of their boat.

 

ISBE says:

 

The boats were probably of a size and build similar to the few employed on the Lake today, which are between 20 and 30 ft. in length and 7 ft. in breadth (Ships and Boats).

 

This is backed up by archeology:

 

An ancient fishing boat, dating to the New Testament period, was found in the mud just north of Magdala in 1986. It was 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and 4.5 feet deep, and was made of cedar and oak (Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs p. 457).

 

Since these boats were not that deep, it would be easy for them to take on water as well, just as they did in the severe storm they faced earlier.

 

Next, Jesus starts walking on the water toward His disciples at the fourth watch, which is between 3 and 6 A.M. Markís account says that Jesus would have kept on walking past His disciples, but they saw Him and were afraid. At first, they thought He was a ghost (Mt. 14:26). If you were out in a small boat in a storm and saw someone walking on the water you might think the same thing.

 

John 6:20 But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."

 

Jesus calls out to them to let them know it is Him. Matthew gives us more information of what happens at this moment.

 

Matthew 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."28And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

 

Here is where Peterís character shines through. He is seen many times in Scripture as acting quickly with good intentions, but many times his faithfulness does not hold out (Mt. 26:35, 69-75; Acts 15:6-11; Gal. 2:11ff). At first, Peterís faith is strong and he is able to walk on the sea like Jesus, but he began to notice the wind and he took his focus off Jesus. This caused him to start to sink, but Jesus was there to lend him a helping hand as he cried out for the Lord to save him.

 

This can happen to us when we lose our focus on Jesus. When we allow the world to distract us, it can cause us to lose our faith and we can sink deep in sin. But just like Peter, Jesus is ready to lend us a helping hand so we do not become overwhelmed by the world and our sin.

 

When Jesus gets into the boat the storm stops, and His disciples are amazed. They worship Him saying, ďTruly You are the Son of God.Ē Markís account adds the following:

 

Mark 6:51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled.52 For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.

 

Jesusí disciples should have understood that He could override nature when He produced all that bread and fish from the small amount that was given to Him and from how He rebuked the wind and calmed the sea earlier, but they did not. There are many instances like these that show how slow Jesusí disciplesí faith was growing.

 

 

John 6:21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

 

When Jesus stepped in the boat, immediately it was on the other side of the sea where they were going.

 

Once again, this was another great miracle that Jesus did that no one can do today. Yes, some through trickery either using wires, or hidden platforms just under the water have made it appear as if they walked on the water for short distance, but Jesus had walked several miles on the water without any wires or hidden platforms.

 

Even after this great miracle, Jesusí disciples still did not have the faith of centurion yet, but eventually they would get there. Sometimes it takes time for our faith to grow just like we have seen with Jesusí apostles, but our goal should be to have the faith of the Gentile Centurion. We need to be people that believe in Jesus and all that He did. We also need to have enough faith in God to really believe that He loves and is involved in our daily live. We must believe that He does listen to our prayers, and answers them. We must believe that He is making things work out for the good in our lives. We must put our faith in the promises of God and never doubt that if we live faithfully to Him that we will spend eternity in heaven.