Just Say the Word...

(Matthew 8:5 - 13)


What a concept: to make God Himself marvel in amazement. It's almost unbelievable...


Yet this was exactly the reaction Jesus had to the centurion who asked for the healing of his servant. By now, most of us have probably heard this story; we even studied it a couple of weeks ago on Cross Connection. If I were to ask you what made Jesus marvel you might tell me "the centurion's faith." And you would be right. But what did he have faith in? In Jesus? Well yes, but that's not the whole story...


Remember, the gospels tell us that whole cities gathered around Jesus to be healed by Him and He healed a great many people (Mark 1:33-34). Put yourself in that situation. Let's say you see a massive throng of people gathering around this man you've never seen before. You walk up to the crowd to see what all the fuss is about. Then you see this man touch the blind woman on your left. Suddenly she can see! Then He touches the paralyzed man on your right. He springs up and walks! Now, it wouldn't take much of a leap of faith - having seen all of this with your own eyes - to cry out to this same man to touch you and heal you of your afflictions. The point is, we know that many people - even entire cities - were gathering around Jesus with full confidence that His touch would heal them.


So what makes this centurion so special?


The answer reveals to us why this story is so important to our lives today. Firstly, he came to Jesus with humility, saying that he was "not worthy" of Jesus stepping under his roof (Matt. 8:8). This reminds me of our study of the Beatitudes, in which we learned that we must first approach Jesus by being "poor in spirit" (Matt. 5:3). Secondly, and most importantly, is his faith. But what is interesting to note is that he did not just have faith in the power of Jesus - as many did - he had total belief in the power of His word. Jesus was not just some shaman or healer; He was God and His very words held immense power and authority.


This truly is an astonishing leap of faith on the centurion's part. Try and put yourself in his situation for a moment. Your servant - whom you love dearly - is on the verge of death. Before you even ask Him for help, Jesus offers to go to your house and heal your loved one. Would your response be to say "no"? I know mine wouldn't be... Yet that's exactly what the centurion did. Why?


The book of John opens by telling us that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus was actually the Word of God made flesh. A pretty mind-blowing concept if you think about it. This reminds me of an illuminating conversation I had with Oleg the other day. He mentioned how, in Hebrew, the first verse of the bible has a very interesting word in it. It reads "In the beginning God created Et." What's fascinating is that Et is untranslatable. This untranslatable word is spelled with two letters: Aleph - the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and Tav - the last letter of the alphabet. Rather than being a word, it's basically like writing "ABC." So before God created the Heavens and the Earth, He created words, which are the building blocks of all creation. God's word created everything, and now the Word was staring the centurion right in the face.


The centurion understood the power of that word. He understood that he didn't need Jesus to touch his servant. All Jesus had to do was say the word. He believed it with all of his heart. He was even willing to bet his loved one's life on it. Jesus knew that a time was coming very soon in which He would no longer be walking the earth, touching people to heal them. He wanted us to understand that He is God and His word is all we need. The centurion got it, and Jesus marveled.


Jesus left this world a long time ago. We no longer have Him walking among us, touching us. But we still have His word. The word of God spoke this universe into existence. It became flesh and died for us. Just imagine what it can do for you. If you call upon it, you'll find that "as you have believed" it will be done for you (Matt. 8:13).


And God Himself will marvel. Believe it.

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