By Mark Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia
Hope. Everyone craves it. The little leaguer says, “I hope we win the game” but has no way of knowing the outcome. Hope to this little hitter is little more than a dream. But a believer’s hope is broader and wider still. Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Christ that, “… the gentiles will trust in his name” (Matthew 12:21). And in the story of the healing of the centurion’s servant in Matthew 8, we see that very thing — a gentile, the centurion, trusting in Christ’s name and authority and willingness to heal. And he demonstrated that hope with his feet, his ears, and his lips.
Hope in a name is quite different than hope in a game where the outcome is unknown. Hope in the name of Christ imbues one with power because it is hope in a guaranteed outcome. So our every action leading up to the outcome is an action founded on the victory of Christ.
The centurion’s story began simply as faith often does. He came to Jesus. His feet were motivated by his faith. He came “pleading” as one in fear. A man of his stature was not accustomed to pleading. Friends, we should develop a healthy disregard for those who tell us we must come to Jesus always in loving worship. Oftentimes life pushes us to Jesus with trembling and night sweats, with the terrors of the world on our shoulders. Jesus’ arms are open regardless. Pleading he came. Never would we deny our own children when they run to us in fear and never will Jesus deny us.
Next, you’ll see in the passage another demonstration of faith. The centurion was ready to hear. He first came to Jesus with his feet and now he was ready to hear with his ears. “… Just say the word” Jesus and I’ll believe it. Faith in the victory of Christ motivates us to listen for Christ in every circumstance, in every moment. Is this Christ? What did you say Lord? Faith causes us to listen. We infer Christ into everything. The centurion was a word away from victory. We are as well.
Finally, faith is demonstrated with our lips. That eternal hope that boils over onto our lips and lights up a whole room. Note in verse 10 what amazed Jesus: “hearing this, Jesus was amazed.” How often does Christ get to hear your faith? He sees our feet move to the missions field. He knows we hear His Word. But how often does He hear us? T.W. Hunt taught that in our prayers we first and foremost acknowledge God and give Him a reason to answer our prayers. God wants to hear our faith. Speak it, proclaim it. And friends, with every fiber of my being I say this: let the world hear you speak your faith. “Say the word, Jesus … !”