Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: Faith is not about manipulation; it is about acceptance.
Introduction: When we last considered Luke's record of Jesus' words and actions, we were considering His declaration that there was something considerably unique about the centurion's "faith". In that study we raised the question of just what it was that was so unique. Jesus said that He had not found "such faith" in Israel. But just what was it that made it unique? The text emphasizes the centurion's "humility", but that was not unknown to Jesus in His dealings with Israel. The text also emphasizes the centurion's focus upon "authority", but we saw that Jesus used that issue as the bottom line in His introduction of Himself to Israel. The only issue in the text that is not in any of the texts about Jesus' dealings with Israel is the centurion's awareness that "proximity" is not a requisite for Jesus' actions.
When we combine this fact with Jesus' declaration that He had not found such faith in Israel, we have only this to conclude: for the centurion Jesus' essential "authority" is real. This is the core element of the "faith" that Jesus had not found in Israel. The demons know that Jesus' own authority is real for they cannot disobey Him. The physical universe knows that Jesus' authority is real for it cannot resist Him. It is only the so-called "people of God" who do not seem to understand that Jesus' authority is real -- for they disobey Him on a regular basis and then complain when their experiences do not line up with their expectations.
Jesus described the reality of God and His Kingdom in His "down from the mountain" sermon. In that description, He commanded a host of "behaviors" that are in line with the character of God. But, in Israel, He had not found any sense that His commands were fundamentally authoritative. The centurion, not saddled with all of the baggage of the "bargaining" mentality of the Jews (7:4), knew the difference between the Jews' "proximity" dependent "authority" and the Romans' "absolute", "independent-from-presence", "authority".
This morning we are going to look at this record at least one more time. We are going to consider the statement, "...they found the slave in good health." Why did Luke record this? What does it mean for us?
July 27, 2008
- I. Luke's "Point".
- A. Superficially, the statement seems "unremarkable": Jesus had a long road behind Him of once-sick, healthy people ... especially in Capernaum (4:41-42).
- B. Under the surface, the statement requires some thought.
- 1. First, this was a Gentile (note Mark 7:27 and Matthew 10:5 in their contexts).
- 2. Second, the declaration by Jesus is that He had not found "such faith" in Israel.
- a. This means that none of the people along the back trail were "healthy" because they "believed" like the centurion did.
- b. This also gives at least some understanding to our reading of chapter one's record of Zachariah's "unbelief" and the absolute independence from it of the will of God.
- 3. Third, Luke's placement of the record directly after His recording of Jesus' "down from the mountain" message with his comment that Jesus did this healing once He had finished all of His life-carrying "words" means that there is at least the possibility that the practice of the Kingdom's reality is going to take more than what Israel had demonstrated.
- 4. Fourth, this statement reaffirms the reality of Jesus' "authority" as it confirms the centurion's particular grasp of it.
- a. This is not about the centurion "getting what he 'believed' God for": until he saw Jesus approaching, he had no clue as to whether Jesus would respond positively to his request.
- b. This is solely about Jesus taking an opportunity afforded Him in an unexpected setting to validate a man's true grasp of His "authority".
- C. Summary: Luke's "point" is that Jesus, for our sakes, seeks to generate in us the most fundamental "bottom line" to "Life": the clear understanding that "Life" arises out of "absolute authority" for those who "trust in it".
- II. The Significance of Luke's Point to Us.
- A. First, Luke's point means that glib professions of "faith", detached from any real sense of God's "authority", will not yield "Kingdom Life".
- 1. Though we may well experience the same "results" that the Jews experienced from Jesus without "such faith", we will also surely experience what the Jews experienced: the dawning realization that superficial results do not fulfill our deepest longings.
- a. Without exception, all of those who experienced Jesus' "authority" over the physical universe discovered that what they got was just a temporary "fix".
- b. Without exception, only those whose experience of the "temporary fix" moved them to the centurion's grasp of the significance of it received the blessing of "Life" [Note Luke 10:15].
- 2. There seems to be no other reason for Luke's linkage between his texts.
- B. Second, Luke's point means that the constant focus by men upon the superficial is doomed to failure from the beginning.
- 1. The fading of "healing" ministries reveals their flawed foundations.
- a. Twisting "faith" into a lever with which to manipulate God in order to get a very superficial result is a grave heresy.
- b. Temporal, physical "healing" is, at its heart, at best, only a beginning place: it is not very significant, nor a legitimate end.
- 2. The rising of "the emergent heresy" is also doomed by reason of the sameness of the focus: fix the "outer" stuff; do not worry about the "inner" reality.
- C. Third, Luke's point means that Jesus' words regarding the paucity of those who find the Life are to be taken as "authoritative".
- 1. The facts are these ...
- a. The biblical record is that those who function by faith are, by and large, a lonely group who find themselves abandoned by their associates by the time their faith significantly matures.
- b. The biblical record is that the constant onslaught of a shrewd adversary over time eats away the foundations until there is nothing left.
- c. The biblical record is that God is pleased with those who move into "such faith" and rejects the rest.
- 2. They mean that there is no standard of measure for what is "true" other than the authoritative word.
- a. Men take great comfort in being surrounded by those who agree with them -- they think that the numbers make them right.
- b. There is only one thing that makes a person "right": what God has declared in His "authority".