Jesus was so impressed with the centurion’s faith, he remarked that he had not found such great faith in Israel — the entire Jewish nation. One might think that such faith should have emerged from one of the religious leaders of the day, such as the Scribes or Pharisees, most of whom had been students of the scriptures from their early youth. But this man was not even a Jew, but a gentile. To make matters more unique, he was a soldier in the Roman army, whose military occupation of Palestine was viewed with disdain by most Jews.

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+jesus+believing+centurion&qpvt=images+jesus+believing+centurion&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=E5C73DC1D118CDE51389DF601979DAA1F0300D42&selectedIndex=24

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=images+jesus+believing+centurion&qpvt=images+jesus+believing+centurion&FORM=IGRE#view=detail&id=4515FB8D39834DE56782A1D4239970DBEA05CE9F&selectedIndex=100

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http://www.victorious.org/grefaith.htm

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Ironic as it may seem, it isn’t always the religious leaders, ministers, or theologians who aspire toward spiritual things.

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Often, it is the unsuspecting layman, the housewife, the farmer, the soldier or other humble, common people who demonstrate great faith in God.

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We must never lose sight that the Gospel is a simple message which has no respect of persons, nor requires any special credentials to believe it.

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The legacy of the centurion is recorded without benefit of his name,

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but the title of his rank tells us that he was an officer with authority over 100 men.

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He was probably already a believer when he approached Jesus, seeing that he expressed such unusual comprehension of Christ’s authority and identity (Matt. 8:8-9).

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Matthew 8:5 “Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 8:6 saying, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented. 8:7 And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. 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. 8:9 For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. 8:10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”

The story of the believing centurion is probably the best example of great faith in the New Testament.

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Note that at no time did the centurion actually ask Jesus to heal the servant.

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He came to the Lord with a somber report of his servant’s suffering, but stopped short of making any request for healing.

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Apparently he was trying to assess the Lord’s will in the matter, awaiting his response to the crisis at hand.

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Perhaps he was hesitant of how Jesus would respond to the request of a non-Jew, especially since he was a soldier in the unpopular Roman army.

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Or maybe he wondered whether Jesus would even consider taking the time to help a mere servant.

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Without hesitation, Jesus voluntarily offered to the centurion, “I will come and heal him” (Matt. 8:7). There was no more question whether it was the Lord’s will to heal the servant. Not only was Jesus willing, but by his own suggestion, was ready to go out of his way to the centurion’s home to perform the healing.

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What encouragement this must have been, to sense Jesus’ compassion, to witness His eagerness to bring relief and healing

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to a poor sick soul of low estate.

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The centurion’s humble, confident response to all this was most remarkable. In essence he said, “Lord, I’m unworthy to have you as a guest in my home, but because I am a man with authority and am acquainted with giving orders to others, I understand your authority, and know that all you have to do is speak your word and my servant will be healed” (Matt. 8:5-10).

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In praise of Scott Morris   —

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http://stmatthewskitchener.com/being-a-servant-church/

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I mean, the disciples, up to that point, had been spending already a lot of time with Jesus, observing his ministry as he gave attention to and cared for the least, the lowest and the last.

Time and again, they had witnessed his compassion especially for the most poor and vulnerable.

They had already seen how Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, and talked to those whom everyone else ignored or tried to avoid.

They heard him preach about how the smallest, lowest, and least among them, were precious in God’s eyes, and the greatest in the Kingdom of God.

They had eaten with him, travelled the dusty roads of Palestine with him, experienced first-hand his self-giving love and restorative powers.

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But are we, the 21st century church and 21st century disciples any better? Truth be told, we have just as hard a time “getting it” as they did. Truth be told, we too, like the disciples, are just as confused, muddled and thick-headed. We too are the least, the lost, and the lowly.

Isn’t it true, that when, for example, we become anxiously preoccupied with how to be “the best church,” the “strongest financially” among the others, we too “just don’t get it”?

When, for example, our conversations reflect more fear and anxiety, than hope and trust in Jesus?

Or when we focus too much on institutional preservation instead of spiritual transformation, on buildings rather than seeking the face of Christ?

Isn’t it true, that we too, frequently, “don’t get it”, losing sight of Jesus and his core mission and ministry among the least, the lost and the lowly?

In the Gospel text, Jesus says something to his disciples that reflects what his actions have been all along: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” And then he takes a child, saying essentially that receiving, welcoming, serving someone as small, lowly and little as a child, is the same as receiving and welcoming Jesus himself.

Back in Jesus’ day, in the predominantly Greek and Roman culture of his day, certain types of people were seen as having very low status, without honour or dignity. They were: women, children and servants.

A child in particular did not contribute much if anything to the economic value of a household or community. One couldn’t hope to receive any financial or social benefit from favouring a child. Simply put, there were no personal advantages or benefits one could get from offering hospitality to, or favouring a servant, a woman, or a child. And so, in that society, they had no value, worth, or status whatsoever.

In the Kingdom of God, however, in the eyes of Jesus, these lowly ones were of equal value and dignity as all others, and as such, deserved the same, if not more, attention, care and service.

Being a servant Church … to the least, lost and lowly. Serving others in their need. This is what the focussed mission and ministry of the Church is, and should be … to focus our imagination and preoccupation with how best to fulfill the specific mission and ministry of Jesus, to be “servants of all”, in our own situation and context.

But, in our struggle to figure that out, in our confused, thick-headed moments of “not getting it”, of missing the point of what the Church is all about and who we are as followers of Jesus, we suddenly realize we too are the least, the lowly, and the lost.

We too, are the broken and wounded ones to whom Jesus especially shows mercy, grace and care. As the lowly and broken ones, we remain precious in God’s eyes. God hasn’t given up on us, nor the Church of the 21st century, just as he didn’t give up on his first disciples. By God’s Spirit of grace and strength always in and around us, we can always be learning and growing into being servants of all.

Scott Morris, from a young age, enjoyed the benefits of a privileged life, and as a teenager, attended an exclusive academy, the north side of Atlanta, Georgia. As a talented, outgoing, energetic person, he then went on to earn a divinity degree from Yale University, and medical degree from Emory University. He was set, and could’ve had his pick of jobs with all the perks and lavish rewards.

And yet, instead of pursuing a lucrative career, Scott helped set up in Memphis Tennessee, the “Church Health Centre” a non-profit organization not relying on government funds, but on the consistent, dependable and generous donations of churches and individuals.

Supported by neighbouring churches, this Centre has turned out to become today the largest faith-based health clinic in the U.S., serving over fifty thousand patients.

Its key mission is to provide for the health needs of the homeless and those without health insurance. He chose Memphis as the place for this Centre precisely because of its relatively large population of the working poor.

Scott Morris’ passion, joy and purpose was to provide health care for low income people who couldn’t afford it. He gave up other pursuits, which he easily could’ve done, in order to become a servant. By serving the least, the lost and lowly, he and his church found a focus, a purpose, and contentment. By serving others in this particular way, they knew they were serving, worshipping and loving God in Jesus.

Here are the words of another servant, Mother Teresa. She said, “Whoever the poorest of the poor are, they are Christ for us – Christ under the guise of human suffering…When we touch the sick and needy, we touch the suffering body of Christ…Through them, God shows his face.”

Being a servant, might in fact bring us face to face with the Holy One.

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