Faithlife Sermons

Pentecost 2 (3)

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Luke 7:1–10 NIV
1 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 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.” 9 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.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
1 Timothy 2:1–4 NIV
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
In 1 Timothy St. Paul commands us to pray for others. James teaches us that prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective. We believe that even if we ourselves cannot help someone directly, we take it to the Lord in prayer and ask for him to help others. Often St. Paul would urge fellow Christians to pray for him.
Colossians 4:2–6 NIV
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:25–27

25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

2 Thessalonians 3:1–5

3 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Hebrews 13:18–19

18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19 I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.

Specific Sin: What is our prayer life like? Are we content to pray simple prayers before we go to bed and before meals? Do we think through the prayers we use in the worship service? Do we trust in the power of prayer enough to make intercession for others and seek the Lord’s strength to work powerfully in other peoples’ lives?
In the first verse I read, we are told to pray for those in authority. Do those who are in authority pray for those they rule over?
When Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem, he offered this prayer for his people that he ruled.
2 Chronicles 6:34–40 NIV
34 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 36 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you. 40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
Jesus certainly prayed for others in his high priestly prayer on Maundy Thursday.
John 17:20–26 NIV
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
As our great high priest, he intercedes for us even now.
In the miracle of Jesus healing the centurion’s servant, we see how the centurion interceded for his servant and how he trusted that Jesus could and would heal his servant. In doing so he showed great faith in Jesus.
Luke 7:1–2 NIV
1 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.
This takes place at the center point location of Jesus’ extended Galilean ministry. (info on Capernaum). The archeological remains of a synagogue have been discovered in that ancient city.
Luke describes the problem: A centurion’s servant was sick and about to die.
Cultural explanation: The Centurion was a soldier in charge of 100 other soldiers. He was part of the occupational force that controlled Galilee on behalf of the Roman government. He would have been a Gentile and Jewish laws regarding interaction with Gentiles applied to him.

CENTURION [sĕn tōōrˊĭ ən] (Gk. hekatontárchēs).† The commander of a “century”—one hundred soldiers—the smallest unit of the Roman army. (In New Testament times there were ten centuries in a cohort and sixty centuries in a legion, making about six thousand soldiers per legion.) The centurions, often called the backbone of the army, were responsible for keeping discipline, for inspection of arms, for commanding the century in both camp and field, and for the command of the auxiliaries.

Luke mentions two centurions by name: Cornelius, the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:1, 22, 30, 44–47) and Julius, the officer charged to secure Paul’s arrival at Rome (27:1, 3, 43).

Though the names of other centurions are not given, they are treated favorably. The centurion stationed at Capernaum was praised by Jesus for his faith, and his servant was healed (Matt. 8:5–13 par. Luke 7:1–10). Another who supervised the crucifixion of Jesus and the other two men confessed, after Christ had died, that he truly was the “Son of God” (Matt. 27:54 par. Luke 23:47; Gk. hekatóntarchos “leader of one hundred [men]”; Mark 15:39, 44–45, Gk. kentyríōn).

As a respected leader, he had people who served him and were considered beneath him on the social ladder.
Application: Occasions for which we pray. Illness, imminent death, loss, catastrophe, strained relationships, natural disasters, those who have erred, etc.
Luke 7:2–6 NIV
2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.
Apparent contradiction: Matthew tells us that the centurion himself went to Jesus. Matthew is most likely condensing the narrative.
The centurion had heard of Jesus (who he was and what he was capable of) He trusted that Jesus would be able to help his servant. Note the rationale behind the request.
The elders of the Jews believed the centurion deserved special care. After all, he had shown his love for the Jewish people by building a synagogue for them.
We may think that those who contribute large sums of money for building projects deserve special attention for their generosity. I was always uncomfortable with members who made large donations and wanted to make sure everyone knew it was from them. It seemed self-serving. Certainly, the centurion did not think his love for God’s people and his donation warranted any special consideration as he himself would convey through his friends.
Why didn’t the Centurion want Jesus to come to his home? Most likely because of the rules about Jews associating with Gentiles. He had concern for Jesus. He explains his faith in the power of Jesus to heal from a distance by comparing Jesus’ authority with his own. He could get people to do things by a command, certainly Jesus had the power to give a command and be effective even from a distance.
Luke 7:6–8 NIV
6 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 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.”
Note Jesus’s reaction.
Luke 7:9 NIV
9 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.”
Commendation of a person’s faith. It is instructive to note that Jesus’ only commended people’s faith several times and in each case it was that of Gentiles.
Elsewhere, the Bible emphasizes the importance of faith in God.
Luke 17:5–6 NIV
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
Luke 22:31–32 NIV
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Acts 6:5 NIV
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
Romans 1:8 NIV
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
Galatians 2:15–16 NIV
15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
Hebrews 11:1–5 NIV
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. 4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. 5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
It is this type of faith that we ourselves long for. (Hymn verse)
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink, Though pressed by every foe, That will not tremble on the brink Of any earthly woe!That will not murmur nor complain Beneath the chast’ning rod, But, in the hour of grief or pain, Will lean upon its God.A faith that shines more bright and clear When tempests rage without; That when in danger knows no fear, In darkness feels no doubt.Lord, give me such a faith as this, And then, whate’er may come, I’ll taste, e’en here, the hallowed bliss Of an eternal home.
As we would expect, Jesus fulfills the prayer of the centurion. The servant is healed. God has the power to work in our lives through prayer as well.
Conclusion: Almost daily we are made aware of the needs of others. This may come from personal contact, correspondence, word of mouth, social media, or the news. We learn of accidents, economic trouble, illness, victims of crime, those struggling with personal issues, etc. In some cases we are able to take action ourselves, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him” “Parable of sheep and goats on helping others” “As far as possible do good to all especially the family of believers.” We also trust that we have a living Savior who still helps those in need and that we can indeed pray for them. Trust in the power of prayer and use that tool to seek God’s help for others.
1 Timothy 2:1–5 NIV
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
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