Monday, 28 June 2021
Title: Just Say the Word
Ong Hwee Soo
Matthew 8:5-13 (Please read)
In my previous two Devotionals, we have seen Jesus’ encounters with two Gentile women; first a Samaritan and then a Syrophoenician. In today’s text, we see Jesus’ encounter with a Gentile man. In fact, Jesus’ first recorded encounter with Gentiles during His ministry was with this Roman Centurion.
This passage opens with Jesus entering Capernaum (v 5). Besides being a fishing village (where Peter’s home was, v 14), Capernaum was an important garrison town, where the Roman government stationed an auxiliary army. Hence, it was not surprising that Jesus was met by a centurion (v 5), an officer who had command over a hundred soldiers. But it was shocking, to Matthew’s Jewish audience, that the Gentile came to Jesus appealing for help, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly .” (v 6). Roman soldiers, of all people were hated by the Jews for their oppressive control. What is even more amazing is Jesus’ immediate response, “I will come and heal him.” (v 7), because entering a Gentile house would render a Jew ceremonially unclean.
The centurion, certainly familiar with the Jewish rabbinical law, felt unworthy of having Jesus suffer such inconvenience for his sake. His statement may also reveal his own moral guilt in the presence of Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof…” (v 8). What he said next was even more astounding, “but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” The centurion believed that Jesus’ word was sufficient to heal his servant. It is significant that up to this point, there is no recorded evidence of Jesus having performed a healing miracle at a distance or by word alone.
The centurion’s thinking was phenomenally profound. When he said, “For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me, (v 9) the centurion meant that all authority belonged to the emperor which was delegated. Thus, because he was under the emperor’s authority, his commands carried the emperor’s power and had to be obeyed. In asking Jesus to “ just say the word ” (NIV) and in affirming his faith that “my servant will be healed”, the centurion openly declared his belief that Jesus too was one “under authority”.
When Jesus spoke, the full weight of God’s sovereign power enforced Christ’s decree. This is so remarkable because it is a Gentile who was the first to acknowledge Christ’s authority in this manner. Jesus honoured the centurion’s faith and did speak the word to heal his servant (v 13).
In commending the centurion for his faith, Jesus proclaimed that in heaven, many Gentiles will dine together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (v 11) at the Messianic feast. Though the rabbinical ruling prohibited the Jews from associating with the Gentiles, yet Christ envisioned a day when Gentiles would dine with the Jewish Patriarchs. Incredible inclusiveness indeed!
The centurion did not let position, pride, power or people, come between him and Jesus. What is keeping you from coming to Christ? What is preventing you from letting others come to His family?
Let’s emulate the faith of the centurion when we pray.
If you are not a believer in Christ yet, be encouraged to pray the words, “Lord, Save Me.”; “Lord, Help Me”. Jesus has the power to meet your every need. For believers, let’s pray, “Lord, Have Me.”; “Lord, Make Me”.
Let’s Live the Live, with Extraordinary Faith.
Dear God, please speak Your Word into our lives, today. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.
这段经文以耶稣进入 迦百农 （ 第5节）开始。除了是一个渔村(彼得的家所在的地方，第14节)，迦百农也是一个重要的驻军城镇，罗马政府在那里驻扎了一支辅助军队。因此，耶稣遇到 百夫长 (第5节)也就不足为奇了，百夫长是一个指挥一百多名士兵的军官。但令马太的犹太听众震惊的是，外邦人竟来到耶稣面前请求帮助：“主啊，我的仆人害瘫痪病，躺 在家里甚是痛苦 。” (第6节)。罗马士兵因他们压迫性的控制，在所有人中最被犹太人憎恨。更令人惊讶的，是耶稣的即时反应 “我去医治他。” (第7节)，因为进入外邦人的房子会使犹太人在礼仪上不洁净。
这位百夫长当然熟悉犹太拉比律法，他觉得不配让耶稣为他忍受这样的不便。他的声明也可能在耶稣面前暴露出他的道德罪责：“主啊，你到我舍下，我不敢当；” (第8节)。他接下来说的话更令人震惊，_ “只要你说一句话，我的仆人就必好了。” _ 百夫长相信耶稣的话足以医治他的仆人。值得注意的是，到目前为止，还没有任何记載表明耶稣在远处或仅凭一句话就行了治愈的神迹。
百夫长的思想极其深刻。当他说：“因为我在人的权下，也有兵在我以下。” (第9节)百夫长的意思是，所有的权柄都属于被授予的皇帝。因此，因为他在皇帝的权柄之下，他的命令承载着皇帝的权力，必须服从。在要求耶稣 “ 只要你说一句话 ”(和合本)，并确认他相信 “我的仆人就必好了”，百夫长公开地宣称他相信耶稣也是 “在权柄下” 的人。