Sunday, January 10, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Amazing Jesus"

“Amazing Jesus”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
January 10, 2010
Luke 7:1-16

It’s great to be back with you this New Year!  When Heather and I got back from our vacation, we found your Christmas gift in our box–thank you so much for your generosity.  I wanted to tell you today what we bought with it this year.  This is going to be a special year for our family.  In the month of July, we are going to travel to Heather’s parents and grandparents in the Canadian Rockies and on the West Coast.

And we’re going to do it by train.  Our little family is going to drive to Chicago and then hop a Amtrak train at Union Station and travel 31 hours to Glacier National Park where we’ll meet Heather’s folks and travel the rest of the way in their Suburban out to the West Coast where her two sets of grandparents and aunts and cousins live.  And then we’ll end up back on the Canadian prairie where her parents and brother and sister live and then travel by train again to Chicago and drive home.

And this week, because of your generosity and some other money we have been saving, we were able to buy the 6 tickets for this big trip.  The last time we all went out West, Heather was 7 months pregnant with Isaac who is now 5 and half–so we’re excited to be able to do this.

Thank you for the time off and for the gift–we really appreciate it!

Have you found Luke chapter 7?

Since school started this Fall, we’ve been studying the Gospel of Luke to become Certain of Jesus.  Certain of Who He is, certain what He wants from us, and certain what He has done for us.

We’ve reached chapter 7 which immediately follows the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus’ teaching about how His followers are to be different from the rest of the world.

And in chapter 7, we get a glimpse of some amazing stuff.

We’re going to call this message, “Amazing Jesus.”

There are two amazing stories we’re going to study, one takes place in Capernaum and the other in Nain. Both are towns in Galilee where Jesus’ ministry is focused right now.

And in these stories Jesus is both amazed and amazing.

Luke 7, verse 1.

“When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people [The Sermon on the Plain], he entered Capernaum.  There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.”

You get the picture?

Jesus has finished teaching and entered a different city and there is a Roman soldier, a commander of 100 soldiers, a centurion, who has a trustworthy and valued servant who is dying.  His life is hanging by a thread.  That’s the situation.  V.3

“The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.  When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, ‘This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.’”

Somehow, this Roman centurion had heard of Jesus.  His fame was growing throughout the countryside.  And he sent some friends to ask Jesus to heal his servant.  He believed that Jesus could do that.

And these friends, strangely enough, were Jewish elders.  And they believed that this Roman soldier was worthy of this healing miracle.  He loved the Jews and had built a synagogue.

Now, we don’t know if this man was a proselyte to Judaism, a convert, or if he had just been friendly and philanthropic and had kept up friendly relations with Jews.

But he wasn’t a hated Roman. He was a beloved Roman, if you can believe that!

And the Jews pleaded that this man deserved this miracle.

But that’s not what he thought.  V.6

“So Jesus went with them. [Jesus is willing.] He was not far from the house when the centurion sent [more!] friends to say to him: ‘Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.’”

Hmm.  This man has humility.  This man senses his unworthiness compared to Jesus.

Humility is a rare thing. 

And even more rare is what he demonstrates in verses 7 and 8.

“I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my 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.’  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’ Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”


You know what’s the most amazing thing in this story?

The most amazing thing is that Jesus is amazed!

Did you see that in verse 9?

“[Jesus] was amazed at [the centurion].”

The King James says that Jesus “marveled.”

Jesus was astonished, surprised, impressed, pleased–amazed at what?

At the faith of the centurion.

Notice how he turns to the crowd, He wants them to catch this, and He says, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”


The centurion demonstrates amazing faith.

What’s so amazing about this man’s faith?

A number of things.

First off, he’s a Gentile.  He wasn’t steeped in the Bible. He wouldn’t have naturally known about the God of the Bible or believed in a coming Messiah who would come in the power of God.  But he does believe!

And second, he takes Jesus at His word.  He tells Jesus that He wouldn’t have to even show up to do this miracle.  He just had to (v.7) “say the word” and his servant would be healed.

That’s amazing!  We don’t know how this centurion had come to understand Who Jesus was and what He could do, but he definitely believed.  And he exercised his faith.

“Just say the word,” Jesus, and it will happen.

Do you want to amaze Jesus?

All you have to do is believe Him.

All you have to do is take Him at His word.

And that pleases Jesus so much!

Jesus is always on the lookout for faith.

“Will I find faith on the Earth?” is one of His biggest questions.

Do you want to amaze Jesus?

All you have to do is believe Him.

What are you praying for right now?

Are you praying in faith?

I’ve just finished reading an excellent book by Paul Miller on prayer called A Praying Life.  It’s really the follow-up book to Love Walked Among Us but it’s on prayer.

And Paul Miller says that one of the reasons why we don’t keep track of our prayer requests in a prayer journal or on prayer cards is that we don’t really believe that God will answer us.

We don’t really say in our hearts, “If you but say the word, Lord Jesus, then this request will be answered.”

This year, I’ve begun a new prayer experiment of keeping track of prayer requests and people I’m praying for on 3x5 cards.

I’m going to be making out a card for nearly everyone in my life and praying specific things for each of them.  I’ll be getting requests from all of you, if you’ll entrust them to me.

And every time I get out my prayer cards, I want to say with faith, “simply say the word, Lord Jesus, and this request will be answered.”

That’s the kind of faith that amazes Jesus.

Do you know that there are only 3 times that this word for “amazing” is used of Jesus?

There are only 3 times when Jesus was amazed like this.  Really only 2 because one of them is Matthew’s version of this same story.

The other time, Jesus is amazed at how much Jewish people should have trust Him but didn’t.

This is the only time when the Bible says that Jesus was amazed because of how someone exercised faith.

I want to amaze Jesus.

It’s not just faith in His ability to answer prayer.

It’s any time that we take Him at His word.

Has God told you something in the pages of His word and you’ve not believed Him.

We say that we believe, but we show that we believe by what we do.

In this case, the centurion acted on His faith by sending a delegation with a message.

But you or I might show that we believe by obeying some command of Scripture.

What is God asking you to do right now that it will take faith to accomplish?

Take Him at His word!  He’ll help you to do it.

The third reason that this centurion’s faith amazed Jesus was that He recognized Jesus’ amazing authority.


This guy understood authority.

He knew that He was under authority and He knew what it was like to have people under His authority.

The chain of command.

If this centurion said, “Jump,” his officers said, “How high?” on their way up.

V.8 “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.”

And somehow this man can see that it’s the same way with Jesus!

Jesus is in God’s chain of command.

In fact, Jesus speaks for God! 

Just like when the centurion speaks, he speaks for Rome.

When Jesus speaks, Jesus speaks for God!

And disease has to obey.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Somehow this man had penetrated into seeing something of Jesus’ relationship with God.  And He believed in His amazing authority.

“Say the word, Lord. Say the word!”

And that’s exactly the kind of authority Jesus actually has.

The servant was healed.

Jesus had authority over distance.

He had authority over disease.

And as we’ll see in a second, He even has authority over death.

That’s amazing authority!

Let’s look at this next story and see that authority in action.  V.11
“Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.  As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out–the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.”

Can you get the picture in your mind?

Jesus, his disciples, a large crowd going one direction into town.

A funeral procession coming in the other direction going out of town.

And one of the saddest funerals you can have–a young son, the only son, the only begotten son of a widowed mother.

She is utterly destitute.  No husband, and now no son.

She’s crying.  The other mourners are crying, perhaps wailing.  He probably died that day. They tried to have their funerals as soon as they were sure the person was dead they would begin getting them ready for burial.

And his “coffin” would haven been a big wooden plank and sheet draped or wrapped over him.

And then, all of a sudden, the two crowds meet.  The widow with her son and the townspeople run into Jesus.  V.13

“When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don't cry.’  Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up!’  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’”

Great Authority!

Authority even over death!

Notice what it took?  It didn’t take a lot of hocus-pocus and mumbo jumbo.

He just said the word.  “Young man, I say to you, get up!”

You know, if it was anyone else, that would be ludicrous.

You don’t talk to the dead person.  You don’t tell them to get up.

You cry.  You wail.  You stay silent.  But you don’t command a dead boy to get up.

Unless you have this kind of authority!

Amazing Authority!

The Gospel of Luke is about helping people to be certain of Who Is Jesus.

Here’s one thing to be certain of: Jesus has Amazing Authority.

Authority over sickness, yes, but even more authority over death itself.

Now, this man was raised only to die again.

But Jesus had the authority to take up His life again after He died and then to never die again.

And it’s that kind of resurrection that He offers to you and me if we will repent of our sins and receive Him as our own Lord and Savior.

This was just a foretaste of the resurrection to come.

Jesus said in John 10,“I lay down my life–only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

And He has the authority to give new life, resurrection life, to all of His people

Paul says in Philippians, “[W]e eagerly await a Savior from [heaven], the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Have you asked Him to exercise that authority on your behalf and save you from your sins and promise you a resurrection body like His?

Jesus and Jesus alone has the authority to do that.

Amazing Authority!

When Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” this young man HAD TO DO IT!  He sat right up and began to talk.

Can you imagine? 

That’s how powerful our Lord really is.

But it’s not just raw power.  Raw authority.  It is amazing authority combined with  amazing compassion.


Did you see the compassion in Jesus?

V.13 says that Jesus looked at the widow in her grief and “his heart went out to her.”

When He says, “Don’t cry.” it’s not stoicism and keep a stiff upper lip.

It’s comfort.  It’s care for her.  “O, don’t cry. I’ll do something about it.”

It was her only begotten son.  Jesus knows what it’s like to be in a family with a dying only begotten son.

His authority was coupled with His compassion.

And it led to this young son’s resurrection.

Jesus is full of compassion.  He knows how we feel.  He cares.

He comforts.

Sometimes He heals, and sometimes He doesn’t–because in His wisdom He knows when is the best time to use His amazing authority.

But He’s always full of compassion for the last, the least, and the lost–and especially for His children.

Amazing Compassion.

Do you need to hear that today?

Do you need to hear that Jesus cares?

Jesus cares.  He cares amazingly.

The people of Israel where beginning to get the picture.  V.16

“They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’”

Well, Jesus was more than a prophet, but not less.

And He was great.

He was amazing.

He was full of God’s own authority and compassion.

God had come to help His people.

And He’s here today to do the same.  Immanuel.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four