Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday, June 27 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 13-14; Psalm 119:73-80; Romans 11.
Today's scripture focus is  Luke 7:1-10.

When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum.
2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

This is a great story.  Jesus marveled.  At a Roman centurion's faith.  Imagine that.  And here are some Jewish elders saying "This is a good guy.  He deserves this.  Help him out, even though he's a Roman.  He's been good to us and this would be a nice reward for what he's done for us."

But that isn't why Jesus healed the servant.  Not because the Roman was a good guy who deserved something good in return.  Not because the Jewish elders asked.

From Mark Driscoll's sermon:

They [the religious leaders] go to Jesus and say, “You owe this guy. “He’s worthy because he was really nice to us, and he built our church.” And see, religious people tend to work this way. They feel like if they sin, they owe God, so they have to pay him back through their good works, through going to purgatory, karma, reincarnation, suffering. But if they do good, they feel like God owes them. They’re always keeping score.
Religious people tend to think this, and even if you don’t think this, you know you’re a bit religious when you’re suffering or life is damaging, or hurtful, or harmful, or painful, or strife-filled, and you become disappointed with, and embittered against God. “God, you owed me, and you did not deliver.” You may not say that, but any sort of bitterness or disappointment with God is a declaration toward God that you did good, and he owed you, and he didn’t come through, because you assume that God owes you. God owes no one nothing. God gave us life and breath on the earth, and we sinned against God, we rebelled against God, and God is obligated to no one.

Christians have this proclivity to say, “Well, the non-Christians are the bad guys, and us Christians are the good guys.” And immediately one of the non-Christians says, “I know a bunch of Christians that are far worse than a bunch of non-Christians,” and we have to tap out because that’s true. I know some really nasty Christians. And I know some really nice non-Christians. Like if you let me pick, I don’t know, let’s say I was gonna do a car trip across the country, right, I would not necessarily pick, depending upon who the options were, all Christians. There are certain Christians I would not want in the car, maybe in the trunk, not in the car. Not in the car. Maybe on the roof rack, not in the car. There are certain non-Christians that I wouldn’t mind hanging out with, ‘cause they’re actually pretty nice, pretty gracious, pretty generous, pretty easy going. It’s not that Christians are good people, and non-Christians are bad people. It’s that everyone’s a sinner, and some people live out of the conscience that God has given them, and others fight the conscience that God has given them.

And let me say this, this centurion is an amazing man. He is, by all accounts at the beginning of the story, not a believer in Jesus, but by the end, he comes to faith in Jesus. Somewhere in this process, I believe, and most commentators agree, he experiences what we would call conversion. He goes from unbelief to belief in Jesus. But this man, even as a non-Christian, demonstrates amazing character. And so for the non-Christian, this moral centurion, he’s a decent neighbor and a good citizen. That was this man. Look at his character. He’s loving. That’s what the religious leaders say, “He loves us and our nation.” Do you know how loving that is? No one loves religious people. This guy actually loves religious people. That’s very loving. And he also loves his servant. Servants didn’t have legal rights. They couldn’t sue. They couldn’t take you to court. They couldn’t testify in court. They were treated like animals and property, and he really loves his servant. And he’s going above and beyond the call of duty, trying to get Jesus to come and save the life of his servant. That’s a very loving man.

Additionally, we see that he is very considerate. He sends the elders to meet with Jesus, not to disrespect him. Additionally, he’s a very humble man. As Jesus is approaching his home, he sends out additional servants and he says, “I am unworthy to have you, Lord Jesus, into my home.” How many of you, if Jesus said, “I’m coming to your house,” immediately your thought would be, “Yes. This is gonna be great. I’m gonna get a photo with him, put him on Facebook. I’m gonna have tons of friends. This is gonna be great.” And this man is so humble, even as Jesus is coming to his house, he says, “You know what? I don’t need to waste Jesus’ time. Jesus is very important. He’s got a lot of things to do, lot of people to see. Yeah, I’m an affluent man. I’m a generous man. I’m a powerful man. I’m a strong man, but I’m not worthy to enjoy friendship with that man, Jesus.” Very humble.

Despite all of his morality and his good citizenry, this man still needs to be converted. He needs to place his faith in Jesus.  And that is the turning point in the centurion’s life where Jesus looks at him, and we are told that Jesus said that he was amazed at this man’s faith, amazed. Because this man understands Jesus is God, that’s the chain of command, you need to trust him, and he does. And he does.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

God certainly does not owe us anything. And yet He gave us everything. And so often we throw it back in His face. And yet His mercy and grace are offered again and again. We are so unworthy.