Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Centurion’s Faith in the Authority of Jesus 百人隊長のイエスの権威への信仰

(Luke 7:1~10)  Also, Matthew 8:5~13.
 AS THIS IS OUR SECOND MIRACLE in our series of Parables and Miracles, so, let’s review.  A miracle is a sign, an act of power that is done in such a way as to, hopefully, bring people to a deeper understanding of the Power of God 神の力. Also a teaching point in the Power of Faith in God神への信仰による力and thirdly, the depth of God’s Love神の愛の深さ. 
   From our list that was handed out two weeks ago, many of the topics are, for the most part, well known so this will not be designed to cover the stories as one would in Sunday School classroom.  We really need to go deeper and in doing so, bring us face to face with how we live our lives in light of the facts we are shown.  If the Truth of the Gospel does not change us where we are, there is little hope for any change at all.  If that were the case, we would be lost.  We would have no hope and there would be no real living message of Hope and Love that is able to be shared with a hurting, hopeless world.  We will become as hopeless as the rest of the world.
   In fact, when people got to that level of hopelessness in the first century, the ONLY advice and cure for those woes would be to drink hemlock and die.  But, as Messagers of the Gospel of Jesus, there is more to life than a blended leafy espresso that kills you--we have the Message of Life centered on the Person and Teachings of Jesus; the Son of God.
   So, our story today.  Turn with me to Luke 7:1~10.

  Jesus ‘entered’ Capernaum.  When Jesus had finished saying this”…the calling of the 12, Love your enemies, judging others, what goes in comes out, wise and foolish builders.  Then, this event. What we get now is a clear story of God’s interest in more than what appears to be a nice man from Rome.
   Capernaum was described as the ‘Home of Jesus’ (Matt 4:13) and the place where He called Peter, Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John and later He chose the tax collector Matthew, also known as Levi, who most likely worked at the customs house (Matt 9:9) there in town.  Later, Capernaum was the location of a House Church led by Peter himself.  Capernaum was destroyed and abandoned with the Arab conquest in about 640—never to be rebuilt.
   A Centurion 百人隊長worked there in the service to Herod Antipas. He was a leader of, most likely, 100 to 1,000 men and was well paid for his services.  Mostly men of great valor, a centurion was to be firm with his troops.  This army office was a little different.  He seemed, from the text, to be a warm, caring man who gave a lot of support to the local Jewish community.  He was not from the Hebrew nation but knew of the social and religious practices of the Jewish People.  He did not want to cause Jesus to become unclean by having Him come into his house.
   And he calls Jesus “Lord”.  He seems to understand just Who this was he was addressing.  Lord means so much more then than now.  Then—it has a strong meaning of position.  Of Power.  Of authority. 
   And yet, the Army man had a low opinion of himself.  I am not worthy.” Have you ever felt that way? Not being worthy of coming into His presence.  By not having the real spiritual guts to come boldly into His presence.  And yet, the Word encourages us to do just that! Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
   Here we have the answer to many peoples fears of how to approach this God of the Bible.  He does not want sacrifices,  no blood offerings, no cutting of the flesh to gain His attention, no acts of self-effacement to earn His consideration.  We do not have to recite prayers over and over again. Our position for prayer is a humble heart.  Ps 149:6  For the LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.” And Jesus is looking for that kind of position from this appeal. 
  The elders were satisfied with the man’s quality of life.  They said to Jesus: “This man deserves to have You do this.  --Because of what he has done for us.  He had built our synagogue.  He loves our Nation.  Thought he is a Gentile, he is a good man—a really worthy person.
  They are saying a lot!  A Jewish person usually has little to nothing to do with any Gentile, but THIS man was way different! He might have paid the cost to build the Great White Synagogue shown here but not really this one, as it was built in the late 3rd century.  But maybe one like it under it’s white stones!  In any case, the elders really liked the man.  Do it for him…as he has done SO much for us!
  6 So Jesus went with them.
   Getting close to the house, who should come by but the friends of this officer of Rome.  They come with an explanation of what Authority meant to their friend.  What he really is showing Jesus—and us today, deals with FAITH.  It all has to do with the presence of Faith.  We learn from Scripture that Faith involves humility, gratitude and service.  The Centurion has all three.  
Three qualities: 3つの資質
  1.    Humility (humbleness) 人間性—I am not worthy.
  2.    Gratitude (thankfulness) 謝意—his way of giving back to the community.
  3.    And Service (assistance) 奉仕—he had a history of helping the Jewish group.
   Just stop for a moment. Give yourself a little three point check-up.  How is your humility? A Jr High young lady once told me that SHE was the most humblest person in her class.  Not at all like this man.  Others blew his horn for him. 
   Are you a thankful person?  Is gratitude easy to come from your heart toward others and toward God Himself?  How do you live a life of thankfulness?  By being Thankful in ALL things is key. 全てに感謝することが鍵ですIt might need some practice but are you filled with gratitude?
   And service-assistance--once again it is not how much I do that counts.  It is service without strings attached.  I’ll help you so that I can get some praise.  I’ll do this so that it will look good on my college report.  I will serve in this capacity or position so that I will look good. How do you ‘rate’ in just these three areas of living?  Might need to return to this later today and get it straightened out—through prayer and some personal introspection. 
   In this next encounter, let’s look at Matthew’s account from Matthew 8:7, Jesus answers him with “I will go and heal him.” Listen to what the officer said: 8 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  This is the second time he calls Jesus ‘Lord!’ 主と呼ぶ
   Say ‘the word’? とば」と言うWhat word is that?  Is it a special section of words said in a special way?  Is it by moving a prayer wheel? Singing a song perhaps?  Maybe repeating the Prayer of Jabez? In a Spiritual language only angels know?  The use of special prayer beads?  What is the Word and what kind of power does THAT word have?
   Answer: The kind of power that shows that Jesus HAS the Authority to bring healing to a very sick and dying man.
   And it seems that the Roman officer both understood that and believed it firmly!
   Here was his understanding.  He was a man of authority.  More than perfunctory, or mechanical. He had authority.  He could and did say to his men: “Go there!” and they went there.  Come here!” and they would come.  Do this!” and he would do it.  Jesus saw that the officer understood His own authority.  You don’t HAVE to come— “But just say the word and my servant will be healed.  That is authority that gets things done.  That kind of authority can move people. That kind of authority was present in the Centurion.  And that kind of Authority was very much present in the Person of Jesus.
   When Jesus tells us to love our wives, He means it.  When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, He is not kidding around.  When Jesus tells us to make disciples for His Name sake, it is to be done.  There is no other way to deal with such authority.
   Unless we ignore Him altogether.  Does He have that kind of authority over His People?  The answer is YES.  Are we doing what He wants us to do?  The answer is: not all the time.  Why?  Does He have the authority over us? 
   Jesus sees in this man something that was lacking even in Israel. 10When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those following Him, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.
   This is like a neon light flashing!  This kind of Faith should be emulated or matched.  He believes that Jesus was a Man of authorityイエスは権威の人Here is a demonstration of true TRUST本当の信頼を見せてくれている, CONFIDENCE確信, complete REST IN THE AUTHORITY FOUND IN JESUSエスに見られる権威に安らぐ and a complete awareness of God Plans.  In other words, the Jewish nation and us here at ICCS, can learn from this outsider. 
     Has He found such a one here this morning?  Are you that person?  It is key to remember it is not just one person He is looking for but a community of Faithful men and women.  Collectively, we must be strong!
   You see, this miracle is not just a story.  It has to be a sign for us to change our way of thinking.  Change our way of doing life.  We can’t afford NOT listen to Him and NOT act.  We need to grow in our Faith.  This Centurion’s effect of Jesus hit home in The Master’s heart.  He could see that it did not matter where Faith was found…in a Gentile…or in a Jew, Faith stands out as wonderful. 
   Why do we do the things we do?  Why don’t we do the things we ought to do? 
   We will need to answer that and let the Word of God come along side us for your answer AND for any action that needs to be taken. 
A Centurion's Excellent Faithは百人隊長の素晴らしい信仰
   To close this morning, this miracle has been a wild story of Faith, of Power, of Wonder and of Authority.  We have seen that ethnic cooperation was revolutionary then as it would be today.  The Samaritan, and now this Roman…and today we have the PLO and Israel shooting at one another.  Individuals here in the Chapel who are at odds with others.  We need to seek that same understanding.  That kind of Faith would affect our prayer life.  We can only imagine the impact on the world—even Enoki Cho—if the whole Church were able to visibly show how Christ leads us to respect ethnic diversities and to work across ethnic lines.  All people everywhere need His redemption. Is this an example of your faith as well? あなたも素晴らしい信仰?
   The Centurion’s Excellent Faith was aware of Jesus’ authority so much that he committed the well-being of his most trusted servant into the Hands of Jesus. Jesus saw that and rewards such Faith with an answer: the servant is restored.  If such Faith was possible even outside Israel, it can happen anywhere.  It could happen here.
   This is a time for relection振り返り思い見る時間