June 22-24, 2019
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Luke 7:1-10
"JESUS IS AMAZED!"
1. When God’s people grasp grace.
2. When God’s people accept His authority.
Luke 7:1-10 (NIV) "When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well."
I still remember the first book I ever paid money for. I was an avid reader as a kid and mostly read whatever books my older brother was reading. I’d make weekly trips to the library to find more. But somehow an ad for a book so grabbed me that I had to part with hard earned cash to get it. It was called, “Strange stories and amazing facts.” And it was good. All sorts of short articles about true things that had my head spinning and eyes wide. I don’t think I’m the only one who likes to be amazed though. On our recent trip to the Smoky Mountains Chris and I went through Gatlinburg which is a lot like the Wisconsin Dells with the same sort of attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the Guinness World Records and many more and I remembered downtown San Antonio has those same things. People like to be amazed. I don’t know how it works for you but in order for something to amaze me it has to be something I can’t do or don’t understand. Now in God’s Word before us it tells us Jesus was amazed. That grabs our attention. There is nothing that Jesus can’t do. There is nothing beyond His understanding. What amazes Him?
First Jesus is amazed when God’s people grasp God’s grace. Often, they do not. If you have your Bibles open to Luke’s Gospel you see that Jesus had just finished preaching what’s known as His “Sermon on the Plain.” The content is similar to His Sermon on the Mount. The location is different. He’s in Galilee by the city of Capernaum which served as His home base when he was up north. The Roman government’s presence in that city was in the form of a garrison of soldiers led by a centurion. From what Luke tells us it’s clear this centurion had converted to Old Testament Christianity and was also waiting for the Messiah and believed Jesus was that Messiah. But he had a problem. His servant was sick to the point of death. We can see how the Gospel had changed this man. Many centurions would not care about their servants this way. Most centurions would not have given money to build a synagogue.
It’s not really surprising then that the God fearing people of Capernaum who knew him reacted as they did. “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6So Jesus went with them.” Did you pick out why the church leaders felt Jesus should help the centurion? He deserved it. Why did he deserve it? Because of the good things he had done. Now this is a very normal way of thinking, even for the people of God who know better. We judge people based on the only things we can. What they say and what they do. People who do nice things, especially nice things for us are good people. People who murder and steal and have no respect for others’ well being or property are bad people. Good people deserve good things. Bad people deserve bad. And while that makes a natural law kind of sense person to person it does not with God.
To be a good person before God you must be a perfect person. And unless you are a perfect person the only thing you deserve or earn from God is a one way ticket to Hell. That’s why we are so thankful God has revealed He acts on the basis of grace. Grace is God’s undeserved love. It can’t be earned. So when we say or more likely think, “Well Grandma deserves to be healed of her cancer, she is such a good person,” we are showing we aren’t grasping grace. When we see a faithful believer continuing to have struggles in their lives and we say or think, “Well, that’s not really fair, God,” we are showing we aren’t really grasping grace. And when we do that our Almighty God would be well within His rights to say, “Hello, McFly, what part of undeserved don’t you understand?”
But we can, understand. We can grasp grace. The centurion did. Look at his response. “Jesus (He) was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” There’s a man who grasps grace. “I’m not worthy. I do not deserve. I want your help, Lord. I need your help, Lord. But I don’t deserve it.” And Jesus was amazed.
He was also amazed at this believer’s acceptance of authority. “But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well." We are Americans. We value independence and freedom. We don’t live under a governing system where any one man has absolute authority. That may be why American Christians struggle so much with the Bible’s teaching on authority. A good definition that I’ve heard of authority is this. The right to have the final say so. And that definition really fits with something that amazed Jesus. This centurion’s faith. It enabled him to accept Jesus’ authority in his life. “Just say the word. If you say so Jesus. I’m just a centurion and I make things happen by saying so. You are Jesus, the Christ. Just say so and it will happen.” And Jesus was amazed.
Brothers and sisters, you know what I find amazing here? That you and I have the ability to amaze Jesus. He can do anything. He knows everything. And we can amaze Him? Yes. How? Like the centurion when in faith we take Jesus at His word. You know that’s really what faith is, taking Jesus at His word no matter what these eyes see or don’t see. When you listen to people talk their god talk and their religion talk these days a lot of times you just have to shake your head and say, “You’re just thinking too hard.” Just take the Lord at His word. Not only does that make your relationship with God so much simpler it amazes Jesus. Some examples. When all the nice sounding arguments on why same sex marriages or relationships are all right start to hammer at your moral compass how simple to say well that’s wrong because God says so. When seemingly scientific arguments support the idol of evolution how simple to say the world was created because God says so. When you feel like a spiritual failure because you fell into that pet sin again and Satan makes you feel unforgiven how nice to say I am forgiven because God says so. When the wisdom, mercy and love of God leads Him to allow a difficulty in your life, especially the kind that make your heart hurt so you don’t feel loved or that all things really will work for the good how nice to tell your thoughts they are wrong, God does love you and will work this for the good. You know why? Because God says so.
That’s faith. Simply taking God at His word, accepting His authority over us and all. And you know what’s really cool about this? As we let grace be grace and simply take God at His word, Jesus is amazed. With the Spirit’s blessing may Jesus enjoy reading the books about our lives. Amen.