In the weeks that passed by, I shared with you Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” For the past 24 years, I have listened to many Preachers and preached many sermons myself. But none of those preachers or myself ever concluded a sermon with an unexpected warning like Jesus gave in his sermon on the mount. His exact words were,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Why would Jesus conclude a beautiful message like the sermon on the mount with such a harsh statement? The answer is in Matthew 7:28-29. The crowds were amazed by Jesus’ authority. But they also rejected that authority because they hardly obeyed whatever Jesus taught them, (Matthew 5:28-29). There are many in the church today that are like them. They listen to the word but refuse to obey. Refusing to obey the word is the same as rejecting the authority of Christ because he is the incarnation of God’s word.
But then Luke introduce us to someone who actually did. A Roman Centurion. Perhaps he was among those who heard Jesus’ sermon. He was a Gentile by birth and a soldier by profession. Why do I say this man recognized the authority of Jesus?
Read Luke 7:1-10
1. He believed in the divinity of Jesus
Read Luke 7:1-3
The Centurion approached Jesus through the Jewish elders known to him. In the Old Testament economy, that was the proper way for a Gentile to come to God. He could have approached Jesus directly if he believed Jesus was no more than a prophet. Many in Israel hesitated to believe Jesus is the son of God or God himself. But then there is a Gentile who really understands and recognizes Jesus for who he is.
2. The testimony of the Jewish Elders
Read Luke 7:4-5
The Jews had no regard for Roman Soldiers or vice versa. The Roman Soldiers condemned Jews as an inferior nation while the Jews referred to Romans as Gentile dogs. But this Centurion, in particular, was an honorable person among the Jews of Capernaum because he was a godly man. We know he was because his godliness was manifested through his outward behavior.
- He loved the nation of Israel (He loved God’s chosen people)
- He built them a Synagogue (He was a worshipper of Jehovah)
- He was concerned about his slave (Which indicates his love for God)
He did these not because he was putting up a big show to win the favor of the Jews. Rather he was producing the fruit of godliness.
3. He was a man of extreme Humility
Read Luke 7:6
Jews were not permitted to enter the houses of Gentiles because it made them ceremonially unclean. The Centurion knew this. The Centurion is a man of authority who placed himself under the authority of Christ and admitted how unworthy he was to receive God’s favor. The Jewish leaders, on the other hand, were self-righteous and arrogant. They believed they were worthy of God’s blessings.
4. He confessed Jesus has Authority
Read Luke 7:7-9
In the previous verses, we saw that the Centurion admitted Christ’s authority indirectly. In these verses, he is directly confessing the authority of Christ with his lips and it was credited to him as faith. Now although the slave was healed this wasn’t just healing faith. Truth be told it was the saving faith. Frankly speaking, the Centurion actually became a born-again Christian!
A. I said gentiles are allowed to approach God only through a Jew. The word of God says Jesus Christ is that Jew and only through him we shall see God, (John 14:6). You will accept Christ alone is the answer to your life if you acknowledge the authority in the word I preached to you today.
B. It’s true that we are saved by faith, not by works. But we also need to bear the fruit of salvation through which the world will know that we are followers of Christ, (By the Centurion’s behavior the Jews knew he was a believer.) In other words, our behavior must change, (Luke 19:8-10).
C. True faith is demonstrated in a humble approach to God. A humble approach means t0 surrender our entire selves to Christ and trust Him to do what’s best for us, (Proverbs 3:6). If you don’t have the faith to commit yourself to God it means your life is driven by pride.
D. We confess what we believe. If we honestly acknowledge the authority of the word of God we will confess it. The Bible says Jesus is Lord and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, (Romans 10:9).
E. The Roman Centurion knew one cannot refuse to be under authority and wish to exercise that authority. We cannot exercise authority unless we submit ourselves to the authority of Christ, (Acts 19:13-16).
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