Gospel Reading: Matthew 8:5-13
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit, Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
What does it take to impress you? If you’re older, it probably take quite a bit, doesn’t it? You’ve seen quite a lot in your life, so to really impress you is kind of a tall order by now. But if you’re younger, you don’t have as much experience, haven’t been around, still have a lot to learn. It might not take as much to impress you. I remember as a kid, going into snow for the first time. Wow! I can still remember crying, because it was snowing, and the cold snow was hitting my face and stinging my skin! My parents thought that was pretty funny of course. But, I’m sure I was impressed too, by it all. But now, snow is….snow! Things don’t tend to impress as much do they? But every once in a while, there will be that scene in nature perhaps, a beautiful mountain, a breathtaking sunset, an amazing cloud formation, that makes you stop, and pause, and say “wow!”
For someone who has been around for a long time though, and has seen a lot of the world, it gets a little harder to impress them.
How hard do you think it is to impress God? Talk about someone who’s been around a long time, and seen a lot!
But today, we heard about someone who got a “wow!”, out of the Lord! Jesus Christ, being God, has pretty much seen it all. In fact, He created it all, right? What has He possibly not seen?
Well here, we have a centurion, a Roman soldier. A pagan. Not Jewish, certainly not Christian, at least not yet. Someone who has probably been around, though, himself. He’s got a lot of experience in his position.
Well, this grizzled and highly trained centurion had by now seen enough of Jesus Christ, to know that this Man is special. The Centurion has been paying attention, more closely than just about anyone else around there. In all of his experience, he has never seen anyone at all like Jesus Christ. And he’s seen some things, seen a lot of fakers and charlatans. He’s seen all the rabbis, the pharisees, and the sadducees. And in Christ, he saw the real thing, authenticity. He knew he could trust Jesus. This was a man to whom you really had to prove yourself to gain his trust.
Now he came to Jesus, and how did he talk to Him? What humility! The centurion pleads with Jesus for help for his servant. Pleads! A centurion! And the Lord right away answers, because in this centurion He saw something. He didn’t beat around the bush, or test his faith like in other cases. He could see he was not Jewish, He could see he was a pagan. But this centurion, a careful observer, already knows that a mere word from the Lord is enough to help his servant. And there in front of everyone, the gentile, the pagan, the symbol of Roman authority, and oppression, expresses total, yet simple faith in the Lord.
Jesus offers to come straight to his house. The centurion stops HIm, and again with such humility, says in verses 8 & 9:
“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.
For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
And this, brothers and sisters, is what makes the Lord say “Wow!” This expression of faith, truly impresses the Lord. In verse 10 of our Gospel it says: “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
The Lord, who knows all, sees all, says in this one Roman Centurion, He has seen something that He could not find in any of the “Chosen People”! He “marveled”! What a thing! Faith, is what impresses the Lord, Who has seen it all, truly seen it all. And next, He says in verses 11 & 12, “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. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Faith, brothers and sisters. Do we have the kind of faith that would impress the Lord? If we do not, don’t be afraid, don’t despair. Because the Lord tells us, a little earlier in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7: “7 Ask, and it will be given to you! Seek, and you will find! Knock, and it will be opened for you! 8 Indeed, everyone who asks receives. Whoever seeks finds! To the one who knocks, it will be opened. 9 Who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a snake? 11 If you then who are evil [still] know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good [things] to those who ask him!” (Mt 7:7–11).
Ask! And it will be given to you! In our lives, the Lord gives us many opportunities, to seek and to find. Today, we are given yet another one of those opportunities. Let us take the example of the Centurion, and respond to the Lord with faith. Open the door to our hearts, for He is there knocking gently. Let us hear Him, listen to Him!
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.