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  • Writer's pictureOlufunmilayo Adekusibe

Great Living Faith, a Criteria for the Kingdom of God

 

Today’s Reading:

Matthew 8:5-13 (8-9)

“But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my house. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and have authority over m soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. As if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this’, and they do it.” (vv.8-9 NLT)

 

In Jesus days, Capernaum was located along the Sea of Galilee, some two and a half miles west of the Jordan River outlet. It was an internationally prosperous fishing village, at a crucial junction on the Great Trunk Road of Mesopotamia and Egypt. And much of Jesus’ Galilean ministry was done here. At this time, this form of ‘paralysed dreadfully tormented’ leprosy, is uncertain when compared with leprosy in our modern day. All we know is that the disease is highly infectious, debilitating and destructive. To the Jews, leprosy was a sign of cursed (Num. 12:10-12) and it leads to ceremonial defilement (Lev. 13:3; 22:4). Also, in this story, Jesus also demonstrated his uniqueness in healing this type of disease. A centurion in those days is a Roman military officer in charge of hundreds of soldiers. They represent the emperor’s authority (Mk15:39; Acts 10; 27:3) and they pursue military service as a career. This phrase ‘I will come’ (v. 7) has been interpreted by some school of thought as a question meaning – shall I, a Jew come into the house of a Gentile and risking the defilement implication to heal your son? But the centurion fully recognised that Jesus authority was different from his own.


From his experience, he knew his orders were promptly obeyed by his subordinates. And he perceived that God has endowed and trusted Jesus with authority to heal and work miracle. In this story this centurion too by his response, shows that God has included the Gentiles in his salvation plan (8:11). Jesus also, has not limited the entry into the kingdom of heaven to only descendants of Abraham - the Jews, as is the Jewish belief. He taught that the kingdom is open to all – as faith alone would make us part of the family of God and make us inherit the kingdom (3:9). And the influx of Gentiles into the kingdom fulfils God promise to Abraham that he would be a blessing to many nations (Gen. 18:18), and Jesus fulfils this promise in (Gal. 3:8, 16).


Jesus made it known to the centurion that the healing he requested would be done as he believes. He has a positive believing attitude and Jesus healed his servant by merely pronouncing the word. In our Christian living, positive thinking produces positive living. This is why the scriptures ask us to guard our heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). Negative minds produce negative lives and are always full of fear and doubt; but positive thoughts are always full of faith and hope. It does not matter if we have once been hurt or disappointed for hoping. Again we are to ask and we will receive and knock, the door will be open to us. We should not be tired of asking God for help to sustain and heal spiritual wounds; God too is not tired of loving and listening to our plea.


No doubt disappointment hurts, but at the same time, if care is not taken, it can affect our way of living negatively. In that case fear would have set in. Again the love of god must overflow in us to that we do not hinder others from entering the kingdom of God. Also, great insight must be put into the nature of our faith in God. From our human angle, we must recognise that power resides in us. A command issued by someone with authority to give it has powerful effects. For example, Jesus’ command makes people follow him (9:9); calms the waive of the sea (v.26); brings also the universe into being (Jn. 1:3; Heb. 11:3).


The centurion’s words confirms that faith is belief or trust not in a system but in the person of or Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus commended the centurion’s faith (v. 10), and then signal that some Gentiles will enter the Kingdom of God before some Israelites (vv11-12). Indicating to us today that some people now in darkness, the unbelievers will enter the kingdom of God ahead of some believers. Therefore, faith in god should not be equated with distinctions between people. We should not put up hindrance to prevent unbelievers from drawing near to Jesus. The issue of authority and faith should always be focused on Jesus and not any other person, programme or even the church.

OLUFUNMILAYO TITILOLA ADEKUSIBE/ADISA

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