Water for the Thirsty
Weekly Devotional

Water for the Thirsty

Astonishing Faith

Weekly Devotional

‘As the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you, O God’. (Psalm 42:1)
‘…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”…’ (John 7:37)

At the end of your life wouldn’t you like to be commended by God for the way you’ve lived?

The writer of Hebrews tells us,

‘Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for’. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

He goes on to say,

‘It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him’. (v. 6 ‘The Message’)

One impressive example of faith is that of the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13.

The centurion assures Jesus that as far as he is concerned it is unnecessary for the Master to visit his home in order to heal the paralysed servant. He understands that Jesus need only say the word, and the 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." (Matthew 8:9)

Jesus was taken aback by this comment,

‘When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith”. (v. 10)

What a commendation!

Now why does Jesus find the faith of the centurion so astonishing? Why is this such an astonishing evidence of faith?

Here are some reasons:

The first is that in an age where superstition was rife, the centurion believed that Jesus’ healing power did not lie in some form of hocus-pocus, or slight of hand. It didn’t even require his personal presence, only his word. It was not necessary for Jesus to touch or handle the servant; he needed only to say the word, and it would be done.

The second is that he came to such confident assertions despite the fact that he was a Gentile probably not steeped in Scripture. He certainly had less knowledge than those in Israel. Yet his faith was purer, simpler, more penetrating, more Christ-honouring than theirs.

The third astonishing element in this man’s faith is the analogy he draws. He recognizes that he himself is a man under authority, and therefore he has authority when he speaks in the context of that relationship. When he tells a Roman soldier under him to come or go or do something, he is not speaking merely as one man to another man.

The centurion speaks with the authority of Caesar. The chain of command means that when the centurion speaks to a foot soldier, Rome speaks.

In effect the centurion is saying that he recognizes in Jesus a similar relationship. Jesus stands in a similar relationship to God, and under God’s authority, so that when Jesus speaks, God speaks.

Now the centurion, of course, was not speaking within the framework of a fully worked out Christian doctrine of Christ, but the eyes of faith had enabled him to penetrate very far indeed.

It’s a faith that trusts Jesus’ word, and believes that when Jesus speaks, God speaks.

This is the faith we need if we are to be commended by God.

Jesus was clearly concerned that we have faith since he said,

“…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

May He find this astonishing faith in each of us.

Have a good week trusting in Jesus,

Pastor Barry

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