Obey or die.
Humanity's struggle with obedience and authority is all too common. We seem to understand that we need to obey fellow men, such as a boss or a leader, yet we often have the audacity to treat’s God’s commands as mere suggestions. In Matthew 8, a Roman centurion has faith in the power of Christ's word alone to heal his servant. The centurion explains that he knows if a superior gives a command, it will be done, and even as a Gentile, he understands that Christ has this authoritative power. If Jesus has such authority that he can simply speak a command and someone is healed, His commands are certainly worthy of our complete obedience. Do you truly have faith in Christ’s ability to speak and bring healing? Do you sometimes treat His commands as suggestions rather than obeying them and trusting that they are good? Which commands do you find yourself treating this way most often?
In this passage we see that Jesus was amazed by the centurion’s faith and understanding of His position of authority. He humbly said that he was not worthy of Jesus coming to His house and did not try to use his own position as a Roman officer to earn this favor from Jesus. It was because of the centurion’s belief, Jesus says, that the servant was healed. Do you acknowledge your humble position before Jesus and His complete lordship in your day to day life?
Jason Cook explained on Sunday that if Jesus really does have this power over all of creation, then our options are either to live in obedience to His live-giving commands and believe and submit to the authority of his Word, or die in our rebellion. And mere obedience to rules and regulations is not enough. The obedience Christ desires is rooted in a genuine belief in His word and faith in Jesus as Lord of all. We have already asked if you acknowledge Jesus as Lord but do you trust him as such; believing that can rule over you life even better than you yourself?
Lord we praise you for your power and authority over all. Forgive us for seeking to control our own lives instead of looking to you as our Lord and obeying your good and perfect commands. Give us the strength to see that living in obedience to your will is life-giving. Help us to have faith in your sovereign ability to rule over all of creation
and to daily ourselves to you as Savior and Lord.
Have faith and live.
There is a natural tendency in each one of us to hope in our good works rather than faith in Christ. We may serve and work for God with all passion and devotion and still lack a true relationship with Christ (Matthew 7:22-23). We may even resemble the Pharisees who lived their lives devoted to obeying the Law while failing to recognize that God was more concerned with the condition of their hearts. Have you also trusted in your good works this week rather than God’s grace?
It is humbling to know that we are declared righteous by the simple act of faith, rather than by following rules (Romans 3:28). This good news applies to everyone, regardless of who you are or what you have done. On Sunday, Jason Cook showed us that Jesus marveled at the Centurion’s faith and was disappointed by Israel’s lack of faith. Even though he was a Gentile, the Centurion’s faith was more impressive to Jesus than the Pharisees' strict obedience to the Law. Do you find yourself hoping that your good works will impress God when you approach him in prayer or do you have faith that you can approach your Heavenly Father simply because of what Jesus has done for you?
As Jason showed us, it is only by faith in Christ that we are able to truly live. When we seek to earn God’s favor by relying upon our good works, rather than God’s grace, we resemble the Israelites that Jesus was disappointed with (Matthew 8:10-12). And when we live as the Pharisees did, obedience to the Lord becomes a chore. But when God’s grace is our motivator, obedience becomes a joy. Is obedience to God feel like a chore right now? Take a few moments and really let this question cause you to examine your heart.
Father, if you declared us righteous on account of our deeds, we would surely be hopeless. Thank you for saving us not according to our works, but according to what Christ has done for us. Help us to live a life by faith in Christ, rather than a life hoping in our works. We pray You will allow our faith to be manifested in obedience to You this week.