41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:41–42, NKJV)
The apostles had just been beaten and threatened for preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:40). One would think they would go underground to avoid further pain and threats of death. But, astonishingly, they continued daily to teach and preach, both publicly and privately. Their faith in Christ was greater than their fear of men. The apostle Paul vividly portrays the suffering of the apostles when he said, “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now” (1 Cor. 4:11–13). Later, Peter would exhort us to have courage to gladly accept suffering as a Christian: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Pet. 4:16). Like the apostles, we must “not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” – regardless of the reactions of those who refuse to believe in the power and authority of Jesus Christ to save.
9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” 10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick. (Luke 7:9–10, NKJV)
We have been discussing the healing of the centurion’s servant by Jesus. Upon seeing and hearing the soldier’s explanation of sending others to Jesus with his plea (Lk. 7:2-8), Jesus praised the man’s faith, and healed the servant without ever meeting the centurion or his servant. Jesus described the centurion’s faith at “great.” The word carries the idea of quantity, and means “so vast as this.” In other words, his faith was “large” in comparison to the faith Jesus witnessed in Israel. His faith was formed by hearing about Jesus (Lk. 7:3). But, he did more than just believe Jesus could heal his servant. He first sent Jewish elders to Jesus with his plea, and then friends to tell Jesus there was no need to come to his house. He was sure Jesus could just say the word, and heal his servant. Faith that brings God’s blessings is far more than mental acceptance. In our case, faith must compel us to obey Jesus (Jas. 2:14-26). Otherwise, we will not be saved (Matt. 7:21). By the way, it is important to see that as far as we know, the servant was not the person with the faith. Yet, he was healed. Living with large faith becomes a blessing to others.
“For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”” (Luke 7:8, NKJV)
We all encounter authority every day. Whether it is the rules of the road as we drive, or the authority under which medications are dispensed, there are countless ways we tacitly accept living under authority. Yet, in matters of faith, too often we think we are free to do whatever we feel is right. We must learn to acknowledge and yield to the authority of Jesus Christ in every part of our lives. He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). The authority of Jesus, which is so cavalierly rejected by many, was not taken for granted by the Roman centurion in today’s passage. He understood authority, both serving under it and exercising it. He trusted the power of Jesus to heal his servant because he believed Jesus had authority over distance and disease. When we believe Jesus has authority over us, it changes how we think and act in every area of our lives. Because He has supreme authority over us, Jesus deserves more than lip service from us. Let us be so committed to the authority of Christ that whatever His word says, we believe it and do it. Without hesitation or doubt, fully trusting He will fulfill His will, we follow Him. Submissive obedience to His word is the identifying mark of respecting the authority of Jesus.
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. (Luke 7:6–7, NKJV)
The Roman centurion had heard about Jesus and the great miracles He worked. Having already sent Jewish elders to Jesus who begged Him to come and heal the man’s servant, he then sent friends to Jesus with an astounding message. He understood authority, and he believed Jesus had such authority over disease that He could just say the word, and his servant would be healed (Lk. 7:8). Jesus marveled at the man’s faith, and commended it to the crowd that followed Him, saying, “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” (Lk. 7:9) The servant was healed that very hour. Like the centurion, may we fully trust the power of Christ’s word. God’s word will accomplish God’s will in our lives when we trust and obey (1 Thess. 2:13).
In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil. (Proverbs 16:6, NKJV)
One would be hard-pressed to find a more concise description of God’s part and man’s part in salvation “by grace…through faith” (unless it is this quote from Ephesians 2:8-9). God provides atonement for our sins out of the abundance of His mercy, revealing it by His word of truth. As the apostle Paul noted, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:4-5). God’s kind love and generous gift of mercy saves us. Yet, without the faith that comes from “the fear of the Lord,” one will not depart from evil to be saved. As Peter said, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Without God’s mercy we could not be saved. Without God’s truth we would not know we were lost in sin, and we could not have faith to fear Him and work that righteousness that He accepts. Truly, in God’s salvation “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed” (Psa. 85:10). God’s mercy is offered to you. His truth commands you to believe and do His will. If you will fear the Lord and obey His gospel in faith, you will receive atonement for your sins (read Acts 2:36-41).
9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:9–11, NKJV)
The carpenter told the fishermen where to cast their nets to catch fish. Like Peter, when the Master speaks, those who trust the Lord will follow His word. The miraculous catch of fish they hauled to shore prompted Peter to confess his sins to the Lord (Lk. 5:4-8). The fishermen were astonished and afraid, but Jesus eased their fears by assuring them of even greater catches to come. Peter, James, and John soon would be catching souls. The gospel these future apostles preached continues to capture lost souls by convicting sinners and converting them to Christ (Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-48). These men set us a worthy example of immediate conviction, uncompromising priority, and sacrifice of faith in order to serve Jesus. When Jesus speaks, we must forsake all and follow Him (Lk. 14:33; 9:23).
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:13–16, NKJV)
The blood of Jesus brings the nations near to God (Eph. 2:11-12). Access to redemption of the soul from sin in Christ is available to the whole world – both Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 1:16-17). This was a joyous message to Gentiles in the first century, and it continues to be so. Peace with God is not dependent upon your physical ancestry, but upon your faith in Christ (Rom. 4:16; 9:6-8). Christ is the means of our peace with God and with our fellow man. The law of Moses, which identified sin for the Jews, also presented a barrier between the Jews from the Gentiles (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:22-25). The death of Jesus abolished (vanquished) that barrier as it “broke down the middle wall of separation” (v. 14). The new man that is created in Christ is not fashioned after the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (v. 15), but after Christ Himself. The “one new man” signifies the unity of the body of Christ, His church (v. 16). Thank God we have peace with God in the church by the blood of Jesus (v. 13).