Guest Contribution by Toni Nieuwhof, Barrie Campus, Starting Point Leader and Prayer Team
Welcome to Day 7 of the 24 Day Devotion. So glad you’re joining us! Each day for 24 days as a church, we’re going to read one chapter of the Gospel of Luke and post a devotion on it.
If you’ve never read the Bible, we’re so glad you’re joining us. And if you read the Bible, we hope this helps you grow in your faith.
Need to catch up? Start at Luke 1 – Is The New Testament A Lie? and follow along. Today’s devotion is below.
The big bang theory. Darwin’s theory of evolution. Radiocarbon dating.
All of these, scientific theories developed by scientists searching out rational explanations for the beginning of the earth and all the species of life both now and those of days gone by. We live in an age that expects to scientifically explain our observations of the world around us.
In this age, how do we believe in the supernatural?
I love the story of the centurion, whose servant was sick and dying. This is the story of the faith of an ‘outsider’, since the centurion was not a Jew but part of the ruling Roman regime. Within that regime, the centurion explains that he has the authority to give orders and have them carried out. We also know the centurion was sympathetic toward the Jewish people, as he was responsible for the building of a synagogue – a place for the Jews to worship God. The Jewish elders were moved to lobby Jesus on his behalf.
What was it about the centurion’s faith that left Jesus amazed?
First, the centurion saw the gap between who Jesus is and who he (the centurion) was, and second, he had insight into Jesus’ spiritual authority that even most of the Jews were missing.
Luke and the other authors tell of Jesus’ power to draw a crowd. Jesus even had difficulty navigating public places due to his popularity. Crowds of people followed him wherever he went, and most of the people were Jewish because he knew his mission started with God’s nation.
The centurion was so aware of the gap between the power and purity of Jesus and his own self that he said “…for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.” He was struck with awe and wonder.
Secondly, the centurion had an accurate understanding of earthly authority, and he recognized that Jesus had authority that was unlike our human observations of cause and effect. He recognized that there was power in Jesus’ words. Jesus didn’t need to be present, didn’t need to touch someone physically to heal. The centurion had figured out what Jesus said the nation of the Jews had missed – that all Jesus had to do was speak the words.
The centurion was in awe of this: there is life-giving power in Jesus’ words.
In fact, another gospel author and disciple of Jesus, calls Jesus “the Word of God.” John says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John chapter 1).
Just as the centurion requested, his servant was healed by Jesus from afar. After that, Jesus was filled with compassion when he saw a widow grieving at the funeral of her only son. Awe was the reaction of the crowd when Jesus raised the son from the dead.
Sometimes, it is difficult to appreciate and celebrate God’s hand at work in the world when our personal circumstances involve suffering.
This was John’s story.
He was sent to the Jewish people ahead of Jesus to prepare their hearts and call them to repentance. He helped to point people back in God’s direction by baptizing them.
John had already publicly declared that Jesus was the son of God, the Messiah. Meanwhile, he languished in prison and he had his own doubts. He sent a messenger to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should I expect someone else?” Jesus sent back a message to John to stay focused on the awe – the evidence of the blind receiving sight, the lame walking, the dead raised again to life.
Allow the Holy Spirit to show you what Jesus is accomplishing in you and in the world around you.
When we are in a period of struggling or suffering, it is difficult to see beyond ourselves. Sometimes we wonder, as John did, why Jesus is not acting. We ask ‘Are you really who you say you are?’ Jesus asks us to shift our focus to God’s power at work in the world around us. Trust that God is exercising his power for your eternal good. Stay in awe.
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with awe and wonder, and to help you see the gap between who you are and who God is.
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