Sunday, August 03, 2008

32. The Centurion's Faith

Text: Matt 8.5-13

As I was meditating on this passage, several things struck me. First, the very high view or regard that the centurion had of the Lord Jesus. Second, the humility of the centurion. Third, the compassion of the centurion. Fourthly, the authority of the Lord Jesus. Fifthly, the Lord's approbation of the centurion's faith.

First, how do we regard the Lord Jesus? Modern evangelical preaching is largely to blame for reducing our Lord to the status of a divine 'errand boy'. So much stress is made on Jesus as Saviour, without emphasizing that Jesus is Lord. We utter some Sunday School formula and consider ourselves 'saved forevermore', without having any witness of the indwelling Spirit. It is all outward, a mere show. No wonder there is no impact upon the world by evangelical Christians. Jesus is Lord. He is the great and almighty God. He is the Creator of the universe. He is right now a King seated upon the throne in heaven, and worshipped by a host of angels. And, yes, He is Saviour, whose 'so great salvation' is a continuing experience. Once saved we are saved forevermore; but there is the salvation of our souls, there is growth unto maturity, there is a reward and a prize in a high calling which many fail to consider.

How much we need to exalt Him! And if we exalt Him, we need to exalt His Word. The Holy Scriptures are the written Word of God, just as Jesus Christ is the living Word. How necessary then to read the Word of God upon our knees! This is a divine Word, and many have given their lives for it! But we are so casual about the Bible. We do not realize that it has come to us, over the centuries, at great cost.

Secondly, the humility of the centurion. Luke dwells on this aspect much more. The centurion considers himself unworthy to come to Christ, Luke 7.7. He says, 'Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof.' We are too familiar with God. We have no sense of His awesome holiness. We need those crisis-moments of revelation that Isaiah, Job and Peter had. We need to be humbled in the dust before this great and glorious God.

Thirdly, the compassion of the centurion. Most often, our prayers are centred around our self. Very rarely are we concerned about others. Here is a Roman soldier, accustomed to military brutality, and yet having a heart of concern for his personal slave. He implores the Lord Jesus; the prayer comes from deep within. He suffers with his suffering servant.

Fourthly, the authority of the Lord Jesus. The centurion knows what is authority. They say that only those who come under authority know what authority is; but this is learnt by painful experience. We are so proud and stiff-necked. We will not bow before Christ. Very rarely do we consider the Holy Spirit as Lord of our lives. We mock the Spirit by indulging in insane laughter, by talking gibberish, by having weird dreams and visions, and attributing all this to the Holy, yes the Holy, Spirit.

'Say the word'. Lord, speak to me. There is power in the word of God; there is great power in the still small voice of the Lord. And the Lord says, 'Go you way; let it be done to you as you have believed.' This is real faith, faith that is combined with humility and reverence for the Lord.

The Lord says, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.' Didn't Israel know the Scriptures? Did they not faithfully attend the Temple, and observe the feasts and follow the ordinances and the Law? But, in the end, those very chosen people of God crucified Christ. Beware of familiarity. Beware of taking things for granted. The Word is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. Let is first cut deeply into our heart.

Words to Ponder Over

It is a testing way, but blessed be God, if we do endure the testing and go on patiently with Him. In His time, when the flesh has been finally laid low, when the voice of natural ambition is no longer sounding and having influence, and we are now utterly at the place where if things are not going to be of the Lord then there is not going to be anything at all - then the Lord has a free way, and He is able to indicate that all the time something has been going on. He shows how He has been at work, and how that in time there will be manifested a work of God, a work that shall have such a large percentage of spiritual value and meaning in it that you are very glad, after all, that you walked with God and not with men in the work of God.

T. Austin-Sparks

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Psalm 72

One of the elders of our church came home for dinner. During family prayer he shared his valuable experiences in studying and meditating on the word of God. This is what he said:

'It is very important to keep meditating throughout the day on what you have read during your morning quiet time. We must reflect on God's word and mull over it in our spare time. Then the word became our life and experience.'

A few days later I remember his words. When my wife and I did our morning joint prayer we read Psalm 72. Earlier we used to read the Bible in a routine way, but now we reflected. And the words came to me clearly from 72.6, 72.12 and 72.18.

Psalm 72.6 says, 'He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.' Mown grass. Is that the work of the cross? The grass has to be cut; the vine has to be pruned. That phrase and verse is now embedded in my memory.

Psalm 72.12 says 'He will deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper.' I am reminded of the famous phrase, 'poor and needy', which we often come across in the Psalms. The humble and afflicted. Oh, how importance for me to realise that I am poor and needy, and must depend on the Lord for everything. 'Cries for help'. 'This poor man cried and the Lord heard him and delivered him from all his troubles' Psalm 34.6. 'Cried' is a strong word; 'with loud cries and tears', Heb 5.7. 'Him who has no helper' is very touching.

Psalm 72.18 says, 'Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders.' This verse I am still carrying today. It is God who alone can save us, who alone does wonders [Psalm 136.4]. O Lord, prove to be a wonder-working God in my life!

Psalm 72, a psalm which I rarely meditated upon, furnished me three great promises. That evening I shared them with my prayer partner, my wife's cousin, who was going through a great trial. I believe they comforted him; they certainly comforted me.

Psalm 72 speaks of the reign of the Righteous King, our Lord Jesus Christ. We all look forward to that millenial kingdom. In His days the righteous will flourish and there will be an abundance of peace [72.7]. There will be an abundance of grain in the earth on top of the mountains [72.16] and the whole earth will be filled with His glory. [72.19] He will vindicate His children, the poor and needy; 'their blood will be precious in His sight'. Oh, we are so precious to Him. May all the earth worship Him!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

29. Military Quarters, Golconda Fort

These old cottages were built
More than 50 years ago
For the retired military personnel
Of the erstwhile Nizam.
Time stands still
Outside the gates
Of Golconda Fort.
Pleasant November sunshine.
This is how life was
In the early 1950s
And it still hasn't changed!
This was taken with a camera-
phone, a Nokia N72.]

Muslim Couple, Qutb Shahi Tombs

Muslim Couple, Qutb Shahi Tombs
Originally uploaded by remusse.
One of the smaller tombs
In the Qutb Shahi Gardens
In Hyderabad,
I found this couple
Emerging from the shadows
In quaint, quiet,
Romantic style.

This was taken with a cameraphone,
Nokia N72