Message of the Day: It Pays to Nurture the Sense of Unworthiness and to Empty Oneself Before God
Text: Matthew 8:5-13
Key Verse: Matthew 8:8
The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” (NKJV)
Palestine at that time, had been under Roman control for about 100 years. Roman soldiers, usually, were cruel and hated men but some who were influenced by the Jewish religion, were good men.
A Centurion is an officer in the Roman army commanding a “century” or one hundred men. Some authors say that in practice, a centurion’s men consisted of sixty to eighty troops, not one hundred. Centurions were the backbone of the Roman army. They were in charge of discipline.
Being an army officer, Centurions operated in a system of authority where they needed only to give a command and it was carried out. The centurion here, believed that Jesus carried the authority of God, and he needed only to say the word and the servant would be healed.
It seems that religious Jewish people did not normally enter Galilee homes. The Centurion, obviously was aware of this cultural divide. His response exhibited great faith, for among all ancient healing stories both true and spurious, long-distance healings were rare and considered especially extraordinary. On the other hand, Jesus’ response shows that he is willing to cross an important cultural boundary. Furthermore, he is a Gentile and generally, Gentiles were pagans, with no faith in Israel’s God.
In Greek the words, “I am not worthy” are the same as those used by John the Baptist in Matt. 3:11 (“I am not fit”, NASB). The entire statement reveals how highly the Centurion regarded Jesus. It was an expression of great humility. it refers, doubtless, to his view of his “personal” unworthiness and emptiness, and not merely to the fact that he was a “Gentile.” It was the expression of a conviction of the great dignity and power of the Savior, and of a feeling that he was so unlike him that he was not suitable that the Son of God should come into his dwelling. So every truly penitent sinner feels – a feeling which is appropriate when he comes to Christ.
Jesus saw that this Roman Centurion had more faith than the Jews and so he used the incident to issue a stern warning to the Jews that many of them would be left out of God’s kingdom, but Gentiles from countries far and near would, because of their faith, be included.
Jewish people always believed that the future banquet in God’s kingdom is for Israel, though the Bible emphasized that it is for all peoples of the world. They thought their Judaism was an inherited passport for entrance into the kingdom. People were seated at banquets according to rank. They “sat” at regular meals but “reclined” (as here) at feasts; table fellowship signified intimacy, so fellowship with the great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was thought to represent a future hope for the Jewish people, not for Gentiles, with whom Jewish people did not eat.
The universality of the gospel is one of Matthew’s theme. The eschatological Messianic Banquet symbolizes the blessings of an intimate relationship with God.
There are times we nurture the “worthy-to-approah-God” feeling, maybe because of our or accomplishments in life, our high status in society or because we view our role in the community or in the church as higher than those of others. The centurion’s response reminds to always carry that sense of unworthiness and keep ourselves empty before God despite our accomplishments and status in society. By doing so, it will create in us an attitude of humility and readiness to receive from God just like what the centurion experienced.
Halley, Henry H. Halley’s Bible Handbook. ePub. Format. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2000.
Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary. New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.
MySword for Android. Riversoft Ministry, 2011-2019.
Zondervan NASB Study Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999.
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