September 10, 2013

Scripture and Commentary, Wednesday after the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 77, 2 Sam.24:1-25, 2 Cor. 11:16
Evening – Psalm 73, Mt. 8:1-13

Commentary, Matthew 8:1-13

Enormous crowds began to follow Jesus after the Sermon on the Mount.  Most of them would turn away from Him later, but for the time being they were confident that His message justified them.  They were sure the Jerusalem elites were the ones Jesus meant when He spoke of those whose faith was only that of the letter of the law.  They were also sure that they, the Galileans, often criticized for laxity about the letter of the law, were the ones Jesus had in mind when He spoke with approval about those who kept the spirit of the law.  So, for the moment, they were glad to hear His words.  Of course, they completely misunderstood Christ’s words.  Later, when they began to understand His message, they turned away in droves.

Yet, there were those in the crowds who were true believers; who understood and believed the message of Christ.  One was a leper.  Leprosy was both a health issue and a spiritual issue.  Leprosy made a person unclean, and, therefore unable to participate in the spiritual life of the people of Israel.  Lepers were not allowed into the Temple.  They were not allowed to participate in the feasts and ceremonies that signified God’s acceptance of them and blessings upon them.  They were, in effect, excommunicated and counted as Gentiles, outside of the covenant of God.

Thus, the leper did not say to Jesus, “Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me well.”  He said, “Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean.”  He was asking Jesus to cleanse his soul so he could be counted among the people of God.  He was asking Christ to “save” him.  And Christ’s response is, “I will.”  “I am willing.”  “Be thou clean.”  So here was one who was “lost” but trusted Jesus to save Him, and He did.

The second person was the centurion.  He was a Gentile, which, be definition means He was lost and dead in trespasses and sins.  Yet he became a true believer and was told he will sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven.

The centurion was a Roman, and considered by the Jews to be the lowest from of vermin.  Romans generally felt the same way about Jews, so it was very unusual that this Roman came to Christ.  It was even more surprising that this Roman considered himself unworthy to have Jesus actually come to his home.  But most unusual was the faith of this man.  He, himself was a man under authority.  Today we would say he was a man with authority.  Men obeyed his orders, because he both had and exercised authority.  His words to Jesus recognized Christ’s Divine authority.  He was basically saying that, if he, a Gentile and a Roman, can have and exercise authority, then Jesus, who is obviously the Messiah, has and can exercise His Divine authority without having to be physically present with the sick man.

It was this recognition of His Divine authority that amazed Jesus.  The centurion understood more than the Jews, and He trusted God more than the Jews.  Christ, then, healed the servant.  This was a sign to the centurion.  His prayers were heard and his faith was accepted.  He is now as fully “saved” as any believing Jew.