[July 27]--What Impresses Jesus?

Matt. 8:5-13

If you’ve been reading closely, you might've noticed that we skipped a short story about Jesus healing a leper in 8:1-4. The reason we’re not talking about this today is because I plan on discussing that when we get into Mark next year. If there’s a passage in Matthew which we don’t address, then we’ll probably look at its parallel next year when we examine Mark and Luke.

In case you didn’t know it, a Centurion was a Roman officer in charge of 100 soldiers. The amazing thing about this and other passages is that the Bible presents a fairly positive view of any Roman soldiers at all. They were a brutal occupying force, and most Jews hated them with every fiber of their being. For a Jewish rabbi to say anything but a curse on these men would be incomprehensible among Jesus' first audience. But our Lord was willing to see beyond politics to a man’s soul, someone who was willing to trust in him.

Not only trust in him, but show an amazing amount of faith. In fact, that’s the answer to the question posed in the title for today’s devotional. There are only two times in which Jesus is described as “amazed” in the Gospels. The first is Luke’s account of the Centurion, and in another story recorded in Mark 6:1-6. In Mark’s story Jesus returned to his hometown and people refused to believe in him; he was “amazed at their lack of faith.”

That’s what impresses Jesus, what catches his attention. That’s what causes us to stand out from other people, according to him. We just need to trust him.

The centurion did, and not only did he see his beloved servant healed, but he got a compliment from Jesus which I'd love to get: Jesus hadn't seen anywhere in all Israel anyone who had faith like this man. The soldier was able to rise above the political controversies and the inbred contempt he'd have for Jewish teachers and rabbis. He was even able to rise above the superstitious limitations people tended to have on God’s power. Most people, even if they believed in the Lord, somehow thought that he had to be physically present in order to work his power. The centurion, however, saw past that nonsense: The Roman officer didn’t have to be standing over the shoulder of a subordinate to make sure an order was obeyed, so why would Jesus need to do so?

Again, I find myself envious of this man. He was able to trust Jesus and take him at his word, and received a compliment that I'd love to get. Of course, there’s nothing stopping me from following his example and getting the same word from the Lord Jesus, is there?

Lord Jesus, so often that’s what it comes down to, right? I just need to learn to trust you better. Lord, I do believe. Please help my unbelief.

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