130602 Luke 7:1-10

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Luke 7:1 – 10

Sermon Theme: Oh, for a Faith that Will Not Shrink!

When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But 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 at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

This is the Word of the Lord.

We watch news reports on television, and we are tempted to react by saying, "I have lost all faith in mankind!" A friend or loved one let us down in some way, and we tell the person, "I have lost all faith in you!" When something bad happens to us personally, we find ourselves asking "Why me, Lord?!" and we are concerned that we are losing our faith in our Savior-God. Two weeks ago, we in the Christian Church celebrated the Festival of Pentecost. We were reminded from God's Word that it is God the Holy Spirit who uses the powerful Word of our God to place in your heart and mine faith in Jesus Christ as our one and only Savior from sin. Today, as we look at an event in the ministry of our Savior recorded for us in Luke chapter 7, we join along with the author of the hymn we just sang and pray: Oh, for a Faith that Will Not Shrink!

Jesus had just finished teaching the crowd that was following him, when some leaders of the Jewish people approach him about helping a Roman soldier whose servant was seriously ill and close to death. As we read this account we notice two things: First, the Jewish elders thought that Jesus should help this man because he was such a great person. They said to Jesus, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." The second thing that catches our attention is that this Roman soldier didn't feel worthy of coming to Jesus and asking him for help. We are told, "The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant." And a little later the centurion sent his friends to tell Jesus why he acted in the way he had, "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you." Notice the very humble faith that the Holy Spirit had placed in the heart of this Roman soldier.

Not only was the centurion's faith in Jesus humble, it was also confident. While the Bible does not offer us the details, somehow he had heard about Jesus. Certainly people were talking. They were talking about the things Jesus was teaching. They were talking about the miracles that he was performing. Confident that Jesus had the power to help him, the centurion turned to the Savior to heal his servant. The centurion spoke about the authority and power of Jesus when he said, "But 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." This Gentile, this non-Jewish man, showed greater faith in Jesus than many of the Lord's own people. This lead the Savior to comment, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." And in the closing verse we read that the One the centurion had faith in, helped him by healing his servant. As we read, "Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well."

Far too often, you and I will confess that we are like the Jewish leaders in this section of Scripture. When we see a love one sick or suffering, and as we turn to the Lord to grant them healing, we may think to ourselves, "Lord, this man (or this woman; or this child) deserves to have you do this..." When things aren't going well in our life, you and I are tempted to think, "Lord, I spend time studying your Word. I am in worship on a regular basis. I live as good a life as I am able to. I deserve to have you help me." When this kind of thinking creeps into our hearts and minds, we do well to remember what the sin we are born in and what the sins that we commit have truly earned for us. We don't deserve healing. We don't deserve the Savior's love or compassion. What we do deserve is to have the Savior ignore us and leave us on our own. The end result would be a life that never ends suffering in hell.

In great humility, moments ago you and I confessed that we don't deserve to have Jesus help us. You and I confessed our sins and our unworthiness. Using the words of the centurion, each one of us said to Jesus, "I do not deserve to have you come under my roof..." But, like the centurion, you and I also came to Jesus in confidence. You and I came before our Savior confident of his love for you and for me. God the Holy Spirit has placed faith in your heart and mine; faith that turns to Jesus for the healing that only he is able to provide. Because of Jesus' love for you, you heard the Good News of the forgiveness of all of your sins. With a humble and confident faith, you and I hear the loving Savior-God say to us the words of Galatians chapter 1, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be glory for ever and ever..."

And the more time we spend in the Word of our God, the stronger our faith in Jesus our Savior becomes so that you and I are more and more confident that our Savior, Jesus, is always with us. It is God the Holy Spirit who strengthens the faith that he has placed in our hearts, so that we are confident that the Savior-God is working out all things for our eternal good. It is the God-given gift of faith that leads us to pray to our Father in heaven, confident that he always hears our prayers and that he will answer all our prayers according to his will. It is the first verse of Hebrews chapter 11 that states it so simply and so clearly for us, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, each one of will confess those times that we have shown a weakness of faith. By God's grace, each one of us also knows that Jesus our Savior has won forgiveness for all of our sins. Confident of Jesus' love for us, confident of our forgiveness through his perfect life and his innocent suffering and death, we pray to God the Holy Spirit, "Oh, for a faith that will not shrink!" May God the Holy Spirit continue to use his Word to strengthen the faith that he has placed in your heart and mine. May he continue to lead you and me to say along with the Apostle Paul, as he writes in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, "Therefore we are always confident and know that...we live by faith, not by sight." Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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