Sermon Notes, 4th Sunday after Epiphany, 3 February 2019 Anno Domini

Sermon Notes, 4th Sunday after Epiphany, 3 February 2019 Anno Domini

The  Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide

 

Matthew 8:  1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

     5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

 

In the text today, we find two separate accounts of the miraculous healing of Christ:

The first a personal approach (in Matt 8:1-4), simply a pitiable statement on the part of a leper – not asking for healing, but stating a fact that appeals to the compassion of Christ.

The second (Matt 8:5-13), a request for healing, not for the petitioner, but for his servant – and that in absentia.

In both cases, there was an acknowledgement of who Christ is, and an expression of faith that Christ could perform whatever miracle was needful.

 

Let’s exam the first event: 1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

 

Note, first of all, that the leper came to Christ and worshipped Him. Before we ask anything of God, we must first acknowledge Him as God, and worship Him.

A leper should remain apart from all people, but this leper boldly came through the crowd to Christ.

There are times when we must contend with many AROUND Christ in order to get to His Presence. All who stand about do not have the faith of this leper.

The leper makes a simple and true statement of faith without asking anything:

Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

In spite of his dire health, he avoids demanding anything of Christ. He simply states a need and a fact and leaves the rest to Christ.

As Matthew Henry tells us: This cleansing directs us, not only to apply to Christ, who has power over bodily diseases, for the cure of them, but it also teaches us in what manner to apply to him. When we cannot be sure of God’s will, we may be sure of his wisdom and mercy.

Look at the faith of this leper. He was afflicted by a deadly and humiliating disease. Every one shunned him. The discomfort, pain, and shame of this affliction would have had an adverse impact, not only on his body, but also his mind and spirit. Yet, he had the faith to overcome the shame and denunciation of the crowd and come to Christ.

 

In coming before Christ and worshipping Him, he came closer than all others in the crowd. This is very like the modern churches.

The leper did not say, “You must heal me because you have promised to hear the prayers of all who worship you!” He left the entire matter up to the mercy of Christ. So must we. He recognized the POWER of Christ to heal, but was not certain of His goodness to do so.

Thankfully, Christ responded to the faith and not the ignorance of the leper.

What did Christ do next after this plea of the leper?

 

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him”

 

Such an important touch it was! All that Christ touches is made whole and new. No human being alive would have touched a victim of this disease but Jesus.

 

“I will; be thou clean”

 

It had been a very long time since anyone had touched this leper in sympathy. It may have brought tears to his diseased eyes even if no healing had taken place at all, yet it did!

 

“And immediately his leprosy was cleansed”.

 

And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

 

Is Christ being flippant? Not at all! Even though crowds are standing around him to witness this healing, Christ counsels this leper to “tell no man.”

Now that you are healed, do not waste time in boasting of your healing. Do that which God requires of you. Other tongues in the crowd will give ample evidence of your healing, but you must care for the matters required in the law… “shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them”

The lessons to be learned, among many from this event, are to come to Christ by faith. Disregard the thronging crowds who are mere bystanders playing church. 2) In your prayers, remember, Not my will, but YOURS be done. 3) do not boast of miracles. Let the crowd do that.

There is a linkage between the story of the leper and that of the Centurion, but we must go back to the account of Naaman in the Old Testament – 2 Kings 5. Naaman was a great military leader who secretly had leprosy. It began small and undetected – like the life of sin – and progresses until it takes the life of its victim. When Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, he did not drop dead physically at that moment; but his soul did. It needed revival of the spirit. When one contracts leprosy, it seems a small thing; but it is insidious in its progress and will kill at last. The Connection to the Centurion? Both were healed at a distance. Naaman went to the Jordan River for healing, and the Centurion depended upon the Word of Christ to heal his servant where he lay – three days journey away.

This next event represents a gentile officer, a Roman Centurian, who possesses much military authority, coming to Christ in the same faith as the leper.

The character of the Centurian stands out as the highest example of selfless consideration for someone under his authority. He epitomizes the highest ideals found in a military officer and gentleman.

Though his servant was totally under his authority,  the Centurion loved and respected his servant and sought the only means of healing for him.

It was not politically correct for a Roman officer to come before Christ with such a petition, but the Centurion felt a greater burden for his servant than for his reputation.

Unlike the leper, this Centurion came begging for the healing of his servant.  It is rare for an officer of the proud Roman Army to beg of lowly Jew, but the Centurion recognized Jesus as Lord.

Observe the transaction given in the text:

 

there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. “

 

Jesus considers this Centurion’s faith and subjects it to further exploration:

 

And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.”

 

Surely, had the Centurion requested it, Jesus would have gone to the servant’s side, but Christ fathomed the depth of this man’s good heart.

The Centurion makes an amazing testimony of humility and faith to Christ:

The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.”

This is amazing in the eyes of Christ. He already knows the man’s heart, but to have the crowd publicly hear his profession of faith is profound.

Jesus answers and directs a part of His condemnation to the Pharisaical Jews: Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Christ tells us here that many of the gentile nations shall be brought into Israel, but many who are of Israel shall be rejected.

Prevailing faith always results in a satisfaction of that faith:

 

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

 

As the Centurion issues orders to men and proceeds in the knowledge that the order will be obeyed, so does Christ speak His Word and know that the Power will go forth to accomplish that Word.

Can God depend on your obedience to His Word in the same way the subordinates of the Centurion obeyed a worldly order? Do you pray out of the Will of God and not your own? Do you believe that Christ CAN make all things right? Do you have to SEE a miracle to believe it? “Fear not,  believe only” Luke 8:50

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