Scripture: Matthew 8:5-13
Preached: Sunday October 19th, 2014, by Mark Kulikovsky
As Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount and comes down from the mountain, large crowds of people follow him (Matthew 8:1). His initial public ministry attracted large crowds (Matthew 4:23–25), and his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount has amazed the crowds (Matthew 7:28), so they begin to follow him around the countryside of Galilee. Matthew now brings together several miracle stories to show that Jesus not only has a great messianic message but also a great messianic mission. Jesus is not only Messiah in word (Matthew chapters 5–7) but is also Messiah at work (Matthew chapters 8–9). And Matthew begins his account of this part of Jesus’ mission by showing how Jesus brings restoration to the marginalised of society – the lepers, the Roman centurion, the women of society (in verses Matthew 8:14-15), and the demon-possessed and sick – purity, ethnic, gender, and social boundaries are all broken down.
- Look at the miracles in Matthew chapters 8 – 9 and consider what they tell us about Jesus the Messiah and what they tell us about the faith of the people involved.
- What are some of the ‘popular‘ views about faith that you hear from people who are not Christians? Have you read or heard of any definitions or descriptions of faith from other Christians that you have found helpful?
- The healing of the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8:5-13 is paralleled in Luke 7:1-10. What extra or different information does this account give and how should we reconcile them. You might also like to look at John 4:46-54. What are the similarities and what are the differences? Is this a totally different account or a variation of this same story? Does it matter?
The Motivation of Faith – In the sermon it was highlighted that a need which you can do nothing about is a motivation for faith. Is this the primary or only motivation for faith? If you think there are others, what might they be?
The Object of Faith – Who (or what) do people turn to when in need? On what basis do they do this? As Christians we are likely to say that we always or first and foremost turn to God but is this really true? Is it the case for many of us that God is our last resort (or at least not first!)
The Action of Faith – Faith is meant to be acted upon; it is not just a belief. Have a look at James 2:14-26 and Hebrews 11 and see if you can compile a list of actions that can or should result from faith.
The Necessity of Faith – Jesus uses the Centurion’s demonstration of faith as a ‘teaching moment’ – to teach people that faith is essential for entry into the kingdom and that in the end the kingdom will be made up of people of faith, and not necessarily those who expect to get in. Look at Romans 1:5-6,16-17; Romans 3:21-26,30; Romans 4:1-25; Hebrews 11:6; Matthew 25:21 (and any other passages you can think of) to see how they reinforce the necessity of faith.
The Reward of Faith – In this story we see some ‘material’ rewards for faith – the Centurion gets what he asked for (cf. Matthew 7:7-8; Hebrews 11:6; Lamentations 3:25) and the servant gets healed. However, many of the rewards of faith are not material but spiritual. Consider the ‘rewards’ of faith in Ephesians 2:8; Psalms 32:1-2; Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:7; 1 John 5:4 and then see if you can find other rewards mentioned elsewhere in Scripture.
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