John Newslands - Biddeston, Queensland, Australia - 2017

Luke 7:1–10, “Now when He had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered into Capernaum. And a certain Centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he said unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying that he was worthy for whom He should do this. For he loveth our nation and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus with them. And when He was now not far from the house, the Centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, 'Lord troubled not Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof. Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee; but say in a word and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one go he goeth; and to another come and he cometh; and to my servant do this and he doeth it.' When Jesus heard these things, He marvelled at him and turned him about and said unto the people that followed Him, 'I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.' And they that were sent returning to the house found the servant whole that had been sick.” The one thing we need to learn to save our souls and that is to learn to serve and it is not in our human nature to serve others. Human nature just wants to serve itself. If ever we want a place in God’s family, we need to learn to love; if we ever want to have a place in the eternal kingdom of God. Something I feel I am not able to speak about love and feel there is a lot I need to learn along this line myself and also learning to serve others.

I was thinking about the Centurion and this is a lesson he learned. I don’t think you see much military presence in the streets of Australia. The place I labour in, there is the military presence in the street, there is a big police presence as well. This Centurion man had a humble heart and he was a humble man and he had learned to serve. This man had 100 soldiers under him and that is why he was called a Centurion. The military people I have seen are generally very proud, proud of the authority they have and I understand during the training they take classes to learn to show their authority and to be above the civilians and they are always very serious. It is also part of the training, no doubt this man had gone through the same thing, but he had learned something. He may have heard Jesus or some of the apostles or disciples, because when Jesus was passing and he immediately sent for Jesus to heal the servant that was sick. Jesus said He had not found so great a faith no not in Israel. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

He was not a Jew, he may have been a Roman. We could say he may have joined the Jewish religion and that seemed all it was at this point. This man in his sincerity; at some time, he may have heard the true word of God as he had faith. The only way we will receive faith is when we hear the word of God preached by the servants of God. There are a lot of faiths in the world. People can put their faith in a lot of things as there are a lot of voices in this world and the world itself has a voice with all its attractions. There is also the voice of Satan. People put their faith in these things, but the only faith that will save us is if we are willing to put our faith in the doctrine and teachings of Jesus Christ. That only comes to us as we sit under the sound of the gospel. It does not come to us reading the Bible from lid to lid and that may be a help, but as we know faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We are thankful as we gather here tonight and we have the opportunity and privilege of receiving faith.

In Galatians 5, the friends were struggling over the manner of circumcision and uncircumcision but Paul said clearly hear 5:6, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith worketh by love.”  So love comes first. I remember when we were young and still at home and beginning to understand a little about life and also when we were teenagers and we would love when our professing relatives would come to the home and stay for a few days. Their conversation with our parents and we hardly understood what they were speaking about and they always spoke of spiritual things. They would speak about how the gospel came to their families, and they would speak about missions and speak about things they had read in the Bible. My brothers and I would sit and listen to them and we would not say anything and we would sit quiet, but we always enjoyed these conversations and there was a love begotten and a love begotten in our hearts. I am very thankful for the privilege I had being bought up in a home where my parents were professing. It cannot be everyone’s privilege and everyone’s situation.

Even as we sit here in a meeting like this and consider those round about us and consider their conversation and consider their way of life and if we are honest in our heart and there will be a love begotten in our hearts for that way of life and the way of salvation. Then faith can begotten in our lives. We did not understand much when we sat and listened as children, but the love was begotten in our heart for the things of God. Then when we did come to the years of understanding and God began to speak to us and then faith was begotten in our hearts and faith worketh by love. Love for the truth. We also need an honest heart and friends if we are not honest we will not make any progress in this matter of salvation. We may make progress in the world and we won’t make progress as far as fellowship with God is concerned. To be honest is the most fundamental thing in the lives of any person who wants to save their soul.

No doubt this Centurion had been trained up in the way of a soldier and he had progressed. He had a lot of soldiers under his authority and he had a servant here and the servant that was dear to him and he had a tender heart this Centurion. So different to all the other military people he would be rubbing shoulders. You know what he had become he had become a servant of servants and to have a place in God’s kingdom, to make a start in God’s kingdom in the way of Jesus we must become a servant of servants. By love, serve one another. We are serving another child of God and they are serving us also and that makes the fellowship so sweet. That is totally against all of human nature, and it is totally against all this world would teach and what this world teaches is to put down each other and to make progress in life for yourself. This is what you see in the political world and one politician putting down the other politician and hoping that will gain him votes and that is the spirit of the world, the spirit of the enemy. But if we want to be able to follow Jesus, we must learn how it is to serve and to become a servant of servants.

This man for the very fact he sent for help, he was serving his servant and a man that was about to die and he was serving the servant he loved so much and it wouldn’t be hard for him to do it; this servant must have been a very faithful and that is why he was dear to the Centurion. It wouldn’t be very hard for this Centurion to take the lowly place, to take the humble place. If he was like the rest of them, he could have said, "There are plenty like him, and he can die and I will just get another one." This man’s life and his soul also was very precious to the Centurion and he sent for help.

What we read a little later in this incident here and it teaches us the difference between mentality of false religion and the mind of Christ. He sent the leader of the Jews to Jesus, the elder of the Jews it says asking him to come and heal the servant. There is only one thing that makes us worthy in the beginning with our walk with God and that is to have a broken and contrite heart and it is only the precious blood of Jesus that makes us worthy when all our sins are washed away. This was the mentality and this is how the religious world looks on it saying that he was worthy for whom He should do this. For he loveth our nation and he hath built us a synagogue. They thought that was what was going to catch Jesus attention, the fact the man has built the synagogue. I feel sorry for this Centurion as he was very sincere and he was not wrong as it says he had faith. He must have had the dealings of God in this life at some time. He considered the Jews at that time until Jesus died on the cross and took away the old law and before this, they were the people of God and they were the professing people as we would say nowadays. This Centurion in his innocence and wanting to do the right thing before God and he was doing just what they were asking him no doubt and they wanted to do the right thing by God and so he went to the people of God. These people of God were so far astray.

If someone came to us and wanted to know about truth and we suggested they do this and that and it would be all wrong before God and that is what really resulted here and he had built the synagogue and the poor man knew no better, and he thought he was doing the right thing. People of God were so far off track and they did not know how to guide him, because they never had the spirit of God. In his innocence and in his zeal, he did this. These religious people thought he was worthy because he had done that, and that is how the world looks at things today. Building hospitals and building schools and sacrificing and no doubt they are sacrificing but not in the way that God wants. If we want a place in God’s family and I hope we do we have to get things right and we have to learn to serve and we have to learn to serve the way Jesus wants us to serve. We have to walk in the way that Jesus walked, not by doing good works and that will never bring to our salvation and by faith we are saved.

It says Jesus was with them and when He was not far from house, the Centurion sent friends to Him and I really liked that. First of all, he had sent the elders from the Jews thinking this was the thing to do, but this time he sent friends, and they were honest friends and they submitted the message just as the Centurion had given them. It appears to me the others may have twisted the message and said that he was worthy. When these friends began to speak to Jesus and the friends said unto Him, "Lord trouble not Thyself, for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof," and that was the true message. That is what this Centurion had said in the beginning and the religious world twists things. Jesus was receiving the honest message, "Trouble not yourself for I am not worthy to come unto Thee; but say in a word and my servant shall be healed."

Then he went on to speak about his own authority. He had the whole Roman Empire behind him as far as the authority was concerned and he knew his work could not heal the servant. Somewhere along the line here, he learned that the word of Jesus had authority and power and was able to heal the servant. It says that Jesus marvelled at these things and said, "I say unto you I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." I wonder what the disciples and apostles thought about that? What would you think if you were standing where the apostles and disciples were? They were followers of Jesus and they were the workers and here Jesus was saying this gentile man and raised up not knowing who God was and now he had more faith than they had. That night, the apostles would have been thinking about themselves and when we go to bed and lie there it is good to think of these things. It is sometimes good to just sit down and think and sometimes to ask ourselves questions, "Where do I stand before God?" I am sure those disciples were thinking that, that night. Those returning to the house had found the servant sick.

I think this Centurion believed in prayer. He realised it wasn’t necessary for Jesus to go into his house and put his hand on the sick servant. Where Jesus was, he could heal that man, and that man did believe that. God is in heaven and we are here on the earth and that is another thing and we must learn to pray if we want to save our soul and if we don’t pray, we will perish and it is good to learn to pray. It is good to read and meditate as well, but most important thing is to learn to pray. Where I labour, there are two or three older folk that have never learnt to read, and they found the truth when they were old and the younger ones found the truth and they have learnt to read. They have the Bible read to them which was one benefit. It is nice to pray in the morning and ask the Lord what shall we do today and be guided by the spirit and we won’t be found wasting our time or wasting our lives. As servants of God, we feel we could be busy in lots of things and we could be busy having gospel meetings and what happens if we do not pray and we are not where God wants us to be we are wasting time and we are wasting our life and we only have one life. We have to learn to pray so the Lord can guide us.

I was thinking of what Jesus said to James and John that time they came to him and Jesus asked them if they would be willing for the sacrifice Jesus was willing for and it says that they were annoyed. It says Jesus took them apart and you know the Gentiles had dominion over them and those that were great exercised authority over them but it shall not be so among you and let them be your minister. You think of the Centurion and he was a Gentile and he was not a Jew, but he had learned that lesson and perhaps he learned that lesson before the apostles and disciples had learned it. The Gentiles were in authority, they exercised authority over the people. So the lesson is for us all, if we want to have a place in God’s kingdom we must learn to serve and that is what Jesus was teaching these disciples. This is the way it is done and this is the way it is possible. I am sure we are here tonight because we want to go to heaven. This is the way it will be done and this is the way it was done in Jesus' time. Jesus spent His life serving the living God, serving His generation, serving His disciples and that is how it is done today learning to serve God and learning to serve others. May God help us to have the spirit of humility and may God help us to care for each other and learn to serve. May we esteem each other and that is not a human trait and we need the help of God. May God grant us His Spirit so we may be made strong. Amen