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Surprise Faith

Someday I’m going to do a study of those moments in the life of Jesus when he was surprised by someone, happily surprised, that is.  Those moments when joy overcame him because of something someone else did. 

I talked about one of these moments last Sunday night at the Gathering Church.  Matthew 8:5-13 tells of an unlikely person who expresses extraordinary faith in Jesus, and Jesus is “astonished.” He ‘marvels’ as one translation says.  It was a Roman Centurion, a professional soldier in charge of a bunch of other soldiers. 

Three things that led to this man’s remarkable faith:

He had a need.  Need is always the great equalizer.  It wasn’t even really his need, personally.  It was his servant’s – his servant was paralyzed and suffering.  We keep most of our needs subterranean and they don’t usually surface until we have a crisis, and often it takes a counselor to even identify our need.  Although, I know one highly competent person, who in his mid-forties couldn’t shake the sense that he had no ‘peace’ in his life.  He even googled ‘inner peace’ to try to figure it out.  It was good for him that a person he began to date invited him to her church and the very first time he went,  he connected, and the process of discovery began.  May we connect to the needs of people, so that they can connect to Christ.

He had a reason to believe.  Apparently, he had heard or seen enough about Jesus to believe that Jesus could heal his servant.  He knew that  Jesus had something to do with health and life.  Sometimes I wonder if  the way we do faith gives people a reason to believe.  I wonder if our presentation, maybe more in attitude than in direct content, gives people the sense that Jesus’ primary role is to fix our behavior, to make us ‘nice’ people who conform to a certain morality, political view, o whatever, and that  God basically cant’ stand us until we get shaped up by Jesus.  And if you are a man, that means becoming an effeminate person who can sit still through a Sunday school class and sing middle-school, slow-dance love songs to God.  Have you seen a centurion at church lately?

He had an opportunity.  Jesus said ‘yes’, to his request.  He had total access to Jesus.  Here’s a guy who represents the ungodly power that dominates the people of God, and he’s immediately accepted.  Wow.  There is no way that Jesus should have said ‘yes’, according to every spiritual standard.  The interesting thing is that the centurion knew this, so he didn’t want Jesus to dishonor himself by coming into his house.  That’s when he demonstrated faith.  All Jesus had to do was say the word and the centurion was sure that his servant would be healed.

Jesus was amazed.

Lord, everyone has a need for you, sooner or later.  For your healing.  Including us.  May we see ‘centurions’ come.  May we learn about faith from unlikely people.  May the way we allow you to work in our own lives, in our churches give others a reason to believe.