The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (C)
Sermon Text: Luke 7:1-10
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
One of the true joys of hearing the Word of God, reading and studying the Word of God is the opportunity to marvel at what all you find on each and every page… in each and every chapter. It’s the opportunity to see the Word in action even in the simplest of ways. This includes what can take place after the simplest of transmissions of that Word. It is truly astounding.
By all indications, such is the case involving a certain Roman centurion who name we do not know, but certainly his actions… his faith.
One has to really stand in awe of the Romans and the Roman Empire, that which truly became an empire because of the Roman army who won conquest after conquest, bringing nations and peoples far and wide under Roman rule. The army of Rome was a well-oiled fighting machine with well- trained foot soldiers and well-trained officers including… yes… Roman centurions who were in command of anywhere from 80 to 100 men.
They and their garrison of soldiers were deployed throughout all of the occupied lands and regions including many of the places where our Lord walked… where He went and preached the Good News, where He healed many and performed amazing miracles.
Such a place was Capernaum, which our Lord and His disciples will live and return to many times. St. Matthew records that at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, our Lord left Nazareth and “went and lived in Capernaum by the sea.” (Matthew 4:13)
It is there or around there that this centurion hears about Jesus… “Word of Jesus” reaches him… the Good News of Jesus reaches him. And as I said, that word, very likely, was the simplest of transmissions. But it did not matter. It does not matter for the power of the Gospel message to create faith, bring about faith, is not contingent on the quantity of the Word preached… on the amount of the saving message of Jesus Christ shared with people.
There is this false notion that to truly be a faithful witness to Christ our Savior and help people come to faith in Him, that we need to relay to them, chapter and verse, the entire Gospel message or at least a goodly amount of that message. Of course more is better. The more one knows of Christ, the stronger, fuller, one’s faith will be. But don’t underestimate the power of the Gospel… the power of God’s Word given in either the smallest amount or in the simplest of ways.
St. Luke tells us that “When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.” (Luke 7:3) The one thing led to the other, my friends. The centurion hears about Jesus and then acts on this knowledge about our Lord. He hears about Jesus and then asks, implores Jesus… and this in faith.
How do we know that? How do we know that this was done in faith? By what this Roman soldier does next:
“When he [Jesus] was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.”
“Say the word Lord. I trust in the power of Your Word.”
Amazing. Could it be that the faith, the confidence and conviction which this Roman Centurion displays here puts ours to shame? Our faith? Our trust? If not all of the time or most of the time then certainly some of the time?
When confronted with difficult situations or really any situation… every situation… where do we turn? To whom do we turn? What do we rely on? Our own skills, abilities and power? On that of others? Or do we turn to the Lord and the power of His Word?
“Say the Word Lord.”
And if we do turn to the Lord, look to the Lord, is it an afterthought or secondary action, something that is done to “cover all the bases” and garner all the help possible?
Is the Lord a last resort… when all else fails… or when we get around to it, given the fact that we are pretty busy trying to solve this or that on our own?
Please give this prayerful thought throughout this day and in the days ahead… as will I… as do I… for certainly this account serves as a wake-up call, a reminder and a wonderful example for us. Take your bulletin home and read this and the other Scripture texts again. Put the symbol on the cover on your refrigerator or somewhere else to remind you of this Roman centurion and his faith.
His faith… as well as the true humbleness, the unpretentiousness and humility which he a man of power and authority exhibited. “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof.”
And this in contrast to the attitude often times found and heard… “Lord, do indeed trouble yourself for I am definitely worthy of You helping me… of You coming to me… of You coming under my roof!”
Like this soldier, do we realize our own unworthiness and the degree of the same? The truth is, that is getting harder and harder to do given that we live in this world and are surrounded by people who are quite demanding and project an air of great worthiness, deservedness and entitlement.
We… with this Roman centurion… come again and again before the Lord, kneel before the Lord, lie prostrate before the Lord as poor beggars. The poorest of the poor if only we would realize this.
But we leave this sanctuary and every moment we spend with the Lord hearing His Word and partaking of His Sacraments with the greatest of treasures and an abundance of blessings. We leave in peace… in humble gratitude and thanksgiving which knows no end.
And so with true faith and conviction we humbly declare, “Say the Word Lord, and I know I will be helped. I know I will be healed, comforted and protected, strengthened and guided. By You and Your Spirit which You have graciously poured upon us. And all this according to Your perfect will for me… all this in your perfect way and perfect time. Such is my faith, my trust and full conviction.” Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“Say the Word”
5/29/16 The Rev. Mark H. Hein
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL