O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Bold Military Faith
Bold Military Faith
Based on Luke 7:1-10
Preached on May 29, 2016
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Fellow baptized saints, if ever you wanted the perfect picture - of faith in Christ - here it is – in this centurion. It is incredible. Have you ever noticed that these two men never meet? And I don’t mean leading up to the account. I mean during it. Their eyes never lock. They are never in the same room. They do not exchange any of their words face-to-face, but by messengers. Faith. Not sight. Not at all. Faith - in words.
This centurion commands 100 men. He is not a soldier. He is a commander. He understands authority. He obeys superiors. He directs subordinates. He says to one “Go” and he goes, and to another “Come” and he comes. He knows how words accomplish things. How they perform what they say.
His beloved servant - is sick, at the point of death. We sense his desperation, because this servant is not some slave, but a dear friend of his. His confidante. His loved one.
Someone tells him about Jesus. He hears about this prophet who is preaching with authority and healing the sick. He hears the promises He has proclaimed and how He has drove out demons, so this once mighty centurion humbly sends some friends to speak to him. “Say the word.” “Say the word, and let my servant be healed.” Do we realize the raw trust that is packed in this request? Say the word.
I have authority over soldiers, but you Jesus, you have authority even over your enemies. You bring God’s authority. You speak away illness. Your voice scares away death. You are Lord over these things Jesus. Say the word. Let my servant be healed. Say the word.
This is Bold! Do we even realize how bold this is?!? He is not a Jew. Not part of Israel. This is not his prophet. He is a Gentile. A sinner. Outside the boundaries of God’s covenant people. He has no claim on this Christ. No way to approach Him. Yet behold his faith. He makes himself nothing and nobody, yet boldly appeals to the full authority of Christ. He is bold in his unworthiness and bold in his expectation. Faith is twice bold.
Bold – in declaring “I am unworthy.” Bold in admitting the truth. Bold in acknowledging that there is nothing good in me – though the world tells me there is – Faith is too bold for that. He doesn’t see his works. He is not worthy on account of his love for the nation. He is not worthy because he built the synagogue – the very place of worship – No – He is not worthy. Not to approach Jesus. Not to see Him. Certainly not to have Him come in His house. Others yes, they are praising his deeds. They think he is worthy – but the centurion knows. His faith confesses – He needs the mercy of God – He seeks the compassionate One – He yearns for grace – and all of it in Jesus.
Say the word, and let my servant be healed. If it is your good pleasure. I know you want to help. I know you are going to help – for that is who you are Jesus. Say the word. Bold. Bold begging faith.
Are you bold in your faith? Twice bold? Do you lay it all bare before the One who forgives? Do you acknowledge every dead and dying part of you, demand life from Him for all of who you are? Expect Him to use His full authority to make you what He wants? Be bold! Pray boldly. Confess boldly – your sin and your faith. For look at the centurion. He gets far more than He ever expected.
Jesus is willing to go to his house. This outsider. This sinner. He is willing to do much more than this. He marvels at him! Something He does only here in all the Scriptures. Marvels at his remarkable faith – publicly. Honours him before the whole crowd. Praises the sinner. This beggar. Here is the faith I am looking for. This is what I will showcase before all my holy angels in heaven – not the love he has for God’s people. Not the buildings he has built in my Name – but faith – trust in Me – that which seeks its life entirely from Me. For this I will marvel. For this I will turn to my crowd and say “See, this is it. This one trusts Me.” He trusts my Word.
And this is where the rubber meets the road, isn’t it? The Word. The faith and the boldness and the authority – they all converge in the Word of Christ. And the centurion understands this. He has experienced it on an earthly level. When his superiors have spoken, he has trusted and acted. When he has given orders, his men have trusted and acted. But now, he seeks the Word of the One who has authority over death. Here he humbly calls upon the Lord of life – the Word of God – who walks the streets of Capernaum.
Jesus is the Word of the Father. The event that God is doing. When He speaks, life happens. When He opens His mouth, death and sin and sickness flee – they run – they obey. And would you believe it – this Jesus speaks to you – right now – He issues orders. He speaks His commands. To your sin! He says – Go. To eternal life, He says – Come. Sin goes. Life comes. And you trust.
To your sin He also says “Come.” Come to Me. Come into Me – infect Me, right here in my body – so I can destroy you when I die. To His life He says, “Go.” Pour down the wood for them. Spill on the ground for them. To His Spirit, He says, “Go.” “Go out into them. Fill them with faith.” Give the angels something to marvel at, something to rejoice over in heaven.
When the messengers return to the house, they find the servant well. Your faith in Christ helps those around you. It was his faith that moved the centurion to love God’s people. It was his faith that moved him to build the synagogue. It was his faith that led him to pray for his servant. Your faith in Christ helps those around you. Our own congregation needs a council member for buildings and grounds – we need people willing to serve on the buildings and grounds committee – no, it’s not a synagogue – it is our church! But faith looks for where it is needed. Though it seems weak and wobbly and unworthy. Christ’s Word fills it. He makes faith fruitful, even in ways you will never see. For it is faith – twice bold. Boldly unworthy and boldly receptive to every good gift of your gracious giving God. He promises – your faith helps others.
Beloved, you haven’t seen Him, yet you know Him. You have been spiritually restored by Him. You are under His eternal care. You haven’t seen Him, yet He showcases your faith to His holy angels. The day is coming when finally your eyes will meet, they will lock, Glory to God - but until that day – though entirely unworthy – you are secure in the compassionate Word of your Lord and King. In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr