Saturday, September 3, 2011

Who Is Worthy of Saving? We Cannot Know

Only God knows who is worthy, for only God knows our heart. The common wisdom today is that the Roman authorities of Christ's time - particularly the military - were cruel and heartless automatons who oppressed and tormented all their conquered peoples, particularly the people of Judea. But the Bible directly refutes that view in the Book of Luke, Chapter 7:

Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant
Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum.  And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die.  So when the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant.  And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving,  “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.”

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. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  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.

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!”  And those who were sent, returning to the house, found that the servant who had been sick was now well.

Is this not remarkable? A centurion of the Roman army - an officer in charge of one hundred soldiers - built a synagogue for the Jews; which was an extremely expensive undertaking. Jewish law required that many specific standards be met for a synagogue to be considered clean and holy. And when Jesus approached, the centurion sent his friends to tell Jesus he wasn't worthy to be seen by him. Jesus then held him up as a paragon of faith, greater than any he had yet seen in Israel. Can you believe it? A Roman soldier!

This is an extraordinary example of how preposterous and misguided our understanding of God and Scripture can be. Because often the most despised and criticized people in society turn out to be the most blessed and beloved by the Lord.   

As it says in Matthew 20:16, about Judgment Day: "So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last."