Matthew Chapter Eight contains one of my favorite stories. “When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him...” To be a centurion, you had to be a commander proven on the battlefield. This man is a warrior and a Roman gentile.
“A centurion came to Him pleading with Him, saying, Lord, my servant is lying at home, paralyzed and dreadfully tormented.” How many military commanders in the ancient world in Rome, which had 60 million slaves could care less about their servant? Most servant masters would’ve just killed him and acquired another one. That was the typical attitude in those days. There's something different about this man. His faith was working through love. Don't ever forget it. Faith doesn't work through fear. Faith works through love. If you want to serve the Lord, you develop a love for Him through His word and through letting His love come into you through his word. Do that and you won't have to wonder if you are doing enough for the Lord. You’ll just live your life in gratitude, and you'll serve Him just fine.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord’.” That tells us something right there. He continues, “I am not worthy that you should enter my roof.” I'm not worthy. Most of us in those days, if we went to the Man that the whole nation was talking about -- the miracle worker, the preacher that moved multitudes -- and he said, “I will come.” You're thinking, “I hope the wife has the house clean. I hope she's got something that we can feed Him. You’d think, “Won’t my neighbors be impressed when I come down the street with the Prophet from Nazareth.” Right? This centurion is so humble and lets us have an insight into his thinking. The centurion said, “Only speak a word and my servant will be healed.” Do you think this centurion believed in the power of the Word of God? Do you think that you and I can go to the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit as we address our prayers to the Father and say, “Lord, I have this problem. I've got a financial problem. I've got a health problem. All you must do is speak the word, and it's gone.” And if you pray that prayer and it's not gone, and the Lord didn't speak the word, are you willing to accept that? Because if you're not, you're not humble you and you're not living by faith.
Most Christians believe that God can do everything they want him to do. To some he's Santa Claus or a miracle worker or a magician. The centurion lets us in on something else. He said, “I am also a man under authority.” Notice that he doesn't say I am a man “in authority.” What a difference to have someone, who is in the hierarchy of the Roman Empire, who has many, many levels of authority over him and many under him, but his focus is the authority over him. The centurion is authority oriented. By his understanding of the Lord, the centurion saw a correlation to authority within the Roman military and authority under the God of heaven. He continued, “I am a man under authority having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go’ and he goes and to another, ‘Come’ and he comes.’” So why do those under him obey him? Not because of who he is or because of his authority, but because of the authority above him. “And I say to my servant, do this. And he does it. When Jesus heard it, He marveled and said to those who followed, ‘Assured I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.’” Imagine today that if you and I began to live by the faith this centurion had. He didn't know nearly as much as most of you know. We could say it's not how much you know, it's WHO you know. Right?
Most of the great heroes of the Bible knew so much less than you know, and they had enough faith to work mighty, mighty works. Joseph, for example, went down to Egypt. His brothers hated him. They tried to kill him. They sold him into slavery. He moves into the house of Potter. He's falsely accused. He ends up in prison. He keeps trusting and finally ends up in a position second to the prime minister of Egypt. Then when he delivers his family and his brothers, when Jacob dies and they're afraid he's going to take revenge, he responds, “You intended to me for evil. But God intended it for good.” He had faith like this, a faith that says, “God is in control, and I trust Him.”
The Olivet Discourse -- Jesus' Roadmap for the future, is one of the three major discourses (sermons) of Jesus. They include:
1. The Sermon on the Mount/Galilee Discourse (Matthew 5–7)
2. The Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24–25; Mark 13; Luke 21
3. The Upper Room Discourse (John 13–17)
Each of these messages is aimed at a specific period of history, which we call a dispensation. They lay out God’s dispensational plan, like a road map, from the time of the crucifixion to the end of time. The Sermon on the Mount was directed to the generation in which Jesus lived and was His platform as King—if Israel would receive Him. Obviously, they rejected Him as their King. However, this will be the basis of Jesus’ administration during the 1,000-year Kingdom Age (Millennium).
Then, the Olivet Discourse was aimed at the consequences of Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah, and anticipated the destruction of the nation (70 A.D.) and the final Tribulation period. Remember that the Church Age is an intercalation—meaning an insertion, like a parenthesis, into the Age of Israel. This means that with the Rapture of the Church, the Tribulation picks up where 70 A.D. leaves off. This is why the Church Age is called a “mystery” (Rom. 11:25; 16:25; Eph. 3:1–13; Col. 1:26–27), which is a graduate course to “the principalities and powers in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).
Finally, the Upper Room Discourse was directed toward the Church Age, which began at Pentecost and would continue to the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13–18). The uniqueness of this Age is summarized by Paul’s phrase “in Christ,” and all of the elements involved in what we call “positional truth”—our total union with Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit in us, which occurs nowhere else in history. With the removal of the Body of Christ, the Church, Israel would again become the focus of God’s working on this Earth (Romans 9–11; Revelation 6–19).