The Faithful Centurion

The Faithful Centurion

Matthew 8:5-11

Because in that love, you will discover your faith and the depth of your faith. And in that moment, you will discover the love that God has for you.

[automatically transcribed]

Well, it’s finally happened.

I didn’t compare the readings that I had for this Sunday with what was in the actual sheet that comes out on a Sunday. And so the sermon I’ve written and prepared is not for the gospel you have just heard. It’s not bad. We got the better part of 18 months in before I got the wrong gospel.

So if you give me a moment, I’m going to read you the gospel that I have written today’s. Sermon four, although not in there. The gospel that I wrote for today was the story of the Centurion who comes to Jesus and whose servant is sick. And he comes up to Jesus. And he says, Jesus, my servant, my slave is sick.

Can you please come and heal my slave? And Jesus says, Will I come to you? And the Centurion says, no, you don’t need to come to me. I am someone who commands. I know that if you give the command, my slave will be healed.

And so Jesus says, Your faith, your faith is amazing. Your faith is some of the greatest faith that I have ever seen. And it is because of your faith that your slave shall be healed. So the Centurion departs and the slave is healed. It’s a really interesting gospel.

We see Centurions in the gospel quite regularly, and they are always depicted in a good light. And a Centurion was a Roman soldier who commanded 100 men. That’s how the Roman Army worked. Each Centurion commanded 100 men. Centurions were the lifelong soldiers of the Roman Army.

They were the backbone. They were like the sergeants of the modern army. They weren’t the gunhoe young officers who were looking for a fight, looking for trouble, would run in and just fight no matter what. These were the soldiers who knew how things were done. And they had the experience of long years in the army.

They were very serious men, very balanced men, very solid men. What’s interesting, though, about this Centurion is that he loved his slave. And that was a deeply uncommon thing. And so while this soldier, on one hand, was a very common, while this soldier was a very common Centurion, what was uncommon was his love of a slave. Because in the Roman Army, if you had a slave, they were very much viewed as a living tool and nothing more so to express love for a slave was desperately uncommon.

The other thing that’s really interesting about this is that he would have known categorically would have known that Jesus as a Jewish man, could not have entered his house.

And so his request for Jesus to come and heal his slave was very interesting because he knew that Jesus couldn’t come and do it. But his faith in Jesus and his faith in Jesus ability to heal his slave was so strong that he cast aside the societal the norms of society and said, Well, I know Jesus can’t come and heal my slave. But I know that His command will heal my slave. That is the peak of his faith. That was the moment in which his faith peaked because he knew that regardless of what the rules of society were around him, that Jesus could heal the slave.

And that’s really important because he discovers that faith through his love of that slave. And that’s what we hear in the reading from Thessalonians, ‘May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another’. And it is in that love that Jesus recognises this man’s faith. Faith is the path to the healing of Jesus Christ in your life. Faith comes to us through the love of one another, the love that Jesus gave us.

So when we allow our lives to become one of cynicism and of doubt and of unhappiness, all of that stuff gets in the way of us loving one another. And when those things get in the way of loving one another, then our faith suffers. And it is only through celebrating our love for one another that Jesus has given us and enjoying that love for one another. That friendship. That awesomeness that we have for one another, that our faith can grow and that our faith can grow to the point at which Jesus can heal us.

And that’s how it works. Our love grows into faith. Our faith brings Jesus healing. It’s not about being a member of a club or about even coming to Church, but it is about our faith in Jesus Christ.

My thought on the story of the Roman Centurion is it made me consider what outsiders can teach us. What can somebody from outside of our community teach us about love and about faith and the danger of Advent and the danger of our Church festivals is what we do is we kind of come in and we kind of close the doors. We kind of come in. And if you’re in the club, then you’re in the club. But the Roman soldier teaches us at the start of Advent that what we must do is look outside, look for people who don’t normally come to Church, look to people who we don’t think of as great examples of the faith, and through loving them, discover what it is that Jesus may be telling us.

So-called outsiders teach us about our faith and about our relationship with God. And I see it every Wednesday when we run the foodbank. People who would not come on a Sunday. But people who experience love through us through the gifts of Jesus Christ teach us so much about our own relationship with God. And so at the start of Advent, what I urge you to do is to leave Church today and consider think pray about a person in your life who is an outsider who maybe you avoid, who maybe you struggle to love.

And I would like you to pray for the strength to love that person. It may be somebody you really don’t like. But through this Advent, I want you to pray for them. I want you to hold them before God. And I want you to learn how to love them.

Because in that love, you will discover your faith and the depth of your faith. And in that moment, you will discover the love that God has for you.



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