Turn To Jesus (Red Letters Series #18)


Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

Matthew 8:1-2, 5-6 When {Jesus} was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper {to Jesus}… 5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord …

A leper and a Centurion. The two couldn’t be further apart. The Centurion was in charge of a “Centuria”, a group of 80 to 100 trained warriors. A Roman by birth, the Centurion was not ill, but had a beloved servant who was ill.

On the other hand the leper is an unknown Jewish man, for Jesus tells him to “shew thyself to the priest” once he was cured.

Neither man would normally have anything in common. They were as different as black and white. What united these men was that they had been afflicted by sickness, and both men sought Jesus Christ to relieve them. Sickness has the power to unite. Sickness is a time for a person to stop wasting their lives on frivolous things, a time to look for Jesus for blessing.

Both Of These Men Came To The Right Place

As the Coronavirus ravages our nation people are frantically searching.

Some are searching for bread and milk, food items.
Others are searching for toilet paper.
Medical scientists are searching for cures.
Politicians are searching for someone to blame so they can be reelected.
Television Networks are searching for horrific stories.
“If it bleeds, it leads” – there is money in blood.

The other day I lost my keys. I have ALL my keys on a fob. I had been outside working in my shop (which has a locked door). When I finished what I was doing I locked the door of my shop (I need no keys for that) then went back into the house. Later that day I needed to go get groceries. So I went to get my keys so I could start the car …. NO KEYS! Where did I put them? I searched frantically, then thought “maybe I locked them in my workshop”. I borrowed my wife’s keys, went outside, and turned the workshop upside down. No keys! None! It was hopeless! Hopeless! Then my wife asked a simple question:

What coat were you wearing when you were in your shop?”

Bam! I realized that’s where those keys were. I went and found where I hung up my coat and, amazingly, there were the keys. They were there all the time, not far from me, and not actually hiding. My world was restored. What does this have to do with our message today?

The world is frantically searching for a fix for this terrible virus that has ascended on us all. The key to our problem is not far from us. The key to our problem is God, and specifically Jesus Christ. The Psalmist said:

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

The solution to our problem – every solution to every problem – is the God Who is with us. We need God to guide the scientists as they seek out a cure. We need God to guide the store managers and the shoppers so that we do not consume ourselves. We need God to cure our politicians of Partisan myopia, and to start caring for this nation and it’s people. Our God is “a very present Help in times of trouble”. If people would look up, and call upon the Name of the Lord, our God can guide us through this current mess.

Here is a hard truth you may not like to hear. The God of Scripture is Sovereign. God is in control of all things. Though God may not be the first cause of tragedy, nothing happens that God does not allow to happen.

  • When the plague of lice came upon Egypt, and “all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt” Pharaoh called on his wise men. These “magicians” told Pharaoh:

Exodus 8:19 THIS is THE FINGER of GOD

Pharaoh didn’t want to hear this, and many of you don’t want to hear this. It is easier to make this out a military experiment gone awry, or a terrorist attack, or something even more sinister. Even Christians will make this out to be “the work of the devil”. So it may be, but even so, it is something nonetheless allowed by our Sovereign God. You don’t think so? Let me give you examples.

  • Who brought the worldwide flood in Noah’s day? God!

Genesis 6:17 {God told Noah} behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

  • Who brought famine to Egypt? God!

Genesis 41:25, 27 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. … seven years of famine.

  • Who brought a famine on Israel during David’s reign? God!

2 Samuel 24:15-16 So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. 16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough…

  • Who brought famine to the land when Elisha was Prophet? God!

2 Kings 8:1 Then spake Elisha … the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years.

Our God is Sovereign. The Bible says:

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

Our God “works all things according to the council of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). If you are a Christ follower then you know what the Scripture says:

Romans 8:28 … we know that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD to THEM THAT LOVE GOD, to them who are called according to His purpose ..

The Bible does not say that God is in control of ONLY certain things. ALL THINGS work together for the Christ follower’s good. All things. Through Isaiah God speaks:

Isaiah 45:7-9 … I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. 8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

The Leper Came To The Right Place In The Right Way

Matthew 8:2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

If you think you have it bad, look at the leper. This terrible disease has destroyed his flesh. He has lost both home and business, family and friends. Leprosy was so contagious that God told Israel:

Leviticus 13:45-46 … the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. 46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.

Leprosy as a disease is not particularly painful – in fact, it destroys nerves in the body. What makes leprosy so bad is the isolation. The leper was not only self quarantined, but he or she had to shout “UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN” as they traveled about to keep healthy people from coming near. Talk about social distancing! The leper lost friends, family, business – everything.

There ARE things worst than death!

The leper came to Jesus before He reached Capernaum, as he was not allowed it the city as a leper. We read

Matthew 8:2 … there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

With all that he lost the leper came worshiping Jesus. Not complaining, not bitter, but worshiping. The Bible tells us:

Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

Jesus Christ is the Word become flesh Who dwelt among us (John 1:14). Instead of WORRY try WORSHIP. In worship we praise God for the good things He has given us. Every day the Lord gives us life.

Isaiah 12:5 Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Psalm 95:1-6 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. 5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

We are to bow down and trust in God. To thank Him for all that He has given us. The Bible tells us that God said (Proverbs 8:13) pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate”. Pride tells the Creator that He is created. It tells God that we are god, not Him. Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Many come to Christ demanding things. We expect God to wait on us, to serve us. God said:

Jeremiah 50:31-32 Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord God of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. 32 And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.

This sounds so much like the America I live in today. God blessed us with great prosperity – and we cursed Him. God blessed us with great health care – and we mocked Him. God gave us food so plenteous that most Americans are overweight. We ignore Him. Our comedians make fun of God. If we think of God, it is only as an afterthought. Oh Beloved, it must cease!

The Churches that Christ died for need to stop taking Him for granted. Like the leper, we need to come to Jesus Christ not demanding, but worshiping. We like this poor leper need to fall to our knees before Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15). We all need to say to Jesus:

Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Lord, if you’re willing, you can do it! IF You’re willing. There were no demands made of Christ. This is the heart that is repentant. The leprosy has not only damaged this man’s body, but God used the sickness to make his soul tender unto salvation.

When we worship the Lord in humility and love, He will reach out and touch us. Jesus touched this man. When He touched him the Bible says:

(verse 3) IMMEDIATELY his leprosy was cleansed

Now that Jesus saves this man, He now commands this man. I say it again:

Those whom Jesus SAVES, He COMMANDS

Matthew 8:4 … Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

As the man was a Jew Jesus told him to obey the Law of God, the Law given by Moses. He was to show himself to the priest so that the priest could declare him cleansed. Once pronounced cleansed, he was to offer the gift that Moses commanded (Leviticus 13:2-46; 14:2-32). Once saved, those saved by Christ are obedient unto God. We love the Lord with all our hearts!

The Centurion Came To The Right Place

Matthew 8:5-7 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

As I explained earlier, the Centurion was an important man, a Roman, a powerful Roman. Though he had up to 100 mighty warriors under his command, the Centurion came to Jesus “beseeching Him”. The word translated “beseeching” is the Greek παρακαλέω parakaléō, (pronounced par-ak-al-eh’-o), which means “to call alongside, to beg or implore for assistance”. The man had a “servant” which is the Greek παῖς paîs, (pronounced paheece). The word could be referring to a soldier in his command, or a servant or child that he had authority over.

Romans 2:11 … there is no respect of persons with God.

Jesus will bless whosoever will come to Him in faith and humility. Our Lord did not delay. He said:

I will come and heal him

This Centurion was not lifted up with pride. Notice how this man speaks to our Lord. He tells Jesus:

Matthew 8:8-9 … Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

When the Centurion said “I am not worthy”, that’s not exactly what he said. His exact words were ou hikanós, “I am not much”.

I am not much!”

The Centurion knew he was powerful in comparison to other men, but in comparison to God the Son he was “not much”. The Centurion understood Who Jesus was. He said,

speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed

The Centurion knew the scope of HIS power, and knew the immensity of Christ’s power. He did not set himself up as god, but came to the Son of God in faith. He had great faith. The Bible defines “faith” this way:

Hebrews 11:6, … without faith it is impossible to please {God}: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The Centurion “believed that Christ IS”. He believed that Jesus was able, so much so that he didn’t require Jesus to go to his home. When he said this to Jesus our Lord said:

Matthew 8:10-12 When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus called Israel “the children of the Kingdom” because God promised Abraham blessings in Israel first. The Bible tells us that Jesus,

John 1:11 … came unto His own, and His own received him not.

Those to whom the promise of Heaven and earthly blessing does not come by blood, but by faith. Israel, the nation for Whom Christ came first, largely rejected the Messiah. But those who come from east and west believing will receive the promise of salvation. Those who reject Christ are cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? Jesus told the centurion:

Matthew 8:13 … Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Jesus has the power to heal. He has the power to save. We must trust in Him. During this somewhat frightening time let us look unto Jesus, and make sure our faith is in Him. He will bless. He will protect. And Jesus will save whosoever comes to Him by faith.

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit! Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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