Jun 27th, 2020 (Friday) - System Restart - A Reflection on Matthew 8:5-17

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmitiesand bore our diseases.”

Have you ever noticed how atheists or people of other faiths who have discovered Christ, often late in life, seem to burn with a tremendous zeal for the faith? I am sure you have. Have you ever wondered why? I think it might be because those who are born into the faith have never really gotten to know Jesus. We have learned about him, for sure, but never really got to know him personally. Or, if we did know him personally, started to take him for granted. Consequently, we simply go through the motions of “practicing” our faith without “real” faith backing the actions.
 
In today’s passage we find a foreigner coming to Jesus for healing. He is a centurion. A centurion was a Roman army officer who commanded groups of about 80 legionnaires. So he is a man of some importance. But he does not come seeking healing for himself. He comes for his servant, which is unusual because most people don’t care about their servants. He tells Jesus his servant lies paralyzed and in terrible pain. Before he can say anything further, Jesus asks him: “Shall I come and heal him?”
 
Now, I want us to think about this. Even before the man can ask Jesus to come and heal his servant, Jesus offers to come. What does that tell us? That Jesus is ever willing, ever ready to give us healing. But there is always a question that he asks first. He asked a cripple, paralyzed for 38 years: “Do you want to be healed?” (see John 5:2-8). He asked a blind man: “What do you want me to do for you?” (see Mark 10:46-51). And in today’s story, he asks the centurion: “Shall I come and heal him?” (see Matthew 8:7).
 
Now you might think the questions are stupid because the answer to all three questions is an obvious “yes”. However, see how each responded. The cripple thought he was being accused and got on the defensive. The blind man felt hope and expressed his desire to see. The centurion, in a remarkable departure from both, told Jesus he didn’t need to come; his word was enough. Jesus couldn’t hide his astonishment at the response of the centurion. Neither could he hide his disappointment at the response of the Jews. He said, (I paraphrase), “A pagan has displayed more faith than I have seen in any of you.” Do we have the faith of the centurion?
 
There is a good chance we don’t, for reasons already mentioned. So how do we gain, or regain, faith like that? I think a good way is to reset it completely. Sometimes when a device begins to malfunction, simply restarting it doesn’t help; we need to restore the device to factory settings. How do we do that with God? Might I suggest you join our online Schools of Discipleship? We started two schools this past week. I didn’t publicize it because I wanted to see if this method of instruction would work. It seems to. Our first two batches are full with over 100 students in each. But we’ll have new batches starting soon. Register by following this link: https://bit.ly/hsischool.
 
The School can serve as a system restart. Alternatively, just go to God and tell him you’d like to start over again. He will help you.