The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Kirstin Meehan. Kia Ora!
I'm Kirstin from Aotearoa, New Zealand, living in London. I am a primary school teacher and came to know St Mary's about a year ago through their links with the nearby primary school.

Matthew 8:1-13

Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy
8 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

The Faith of the Centurion

5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Reflection

Reading this passage, I notice there are two contrasting characters both coming to Jesus with full faith. We first have a dirty and diseased leper kneeling before God in worship asking, 'if you are willing'. Jesus held out his hand showing his great compassion, healing him instantly. We then have the centurion - a leader of Roman legion and a gentile. The polar opposite of the lowly leper. He even emphasises this when he says "I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." But he understands that even he is not deserving of having Jesus in his presence. Yet again, Jesus heals. These stories are an account of great faith from the most uncommon of people. One was society's lowliest of men, unclean and diseased. The other a figure of authority. Both these men came to Jesus. They came to him.That in itself is such a great act of faith. Coming in search of Jesus among suffering. Reflecting on my own faith, I asked myself if I would have enough faith to come in search of Jesus in the face of disease or on behalf of someone else's suffering. I think I'd rather an emergency trip to the hospital to be honest. I pray to have such faith that my first port of call is Jesus. That I have complete confidence in the authority of Jesus' word. We too can have the faith of the centurion. We can be sure that Jesus' word is enough. It was then, it is now, and it will forever be enough. If we come to him with complete confidence, and if it is in God's will, we too will be healed.

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