The Astonishment of Jesus (Matthew 8:5-13)

The first comment that we can make about this is that the response of Jesus reveals the reality of his humanity. We find it difficult to know what to think of Jesus at times because he is both God and man. One way to consider his humanity is to remind ourselves that he will always do what is appropriate in each situation. We see this on numerous occasions in the gospels. In those situations, Jesus always did what love to one’s neighbour required.

A second detail to observe is how Jesus wanted to encourage the centurion and commend his faith. As mentioned earlier, some Jews may have wondered if a Gentile could have real faith. We know from other Gospel accounts that this man was highly regarded by the Jewish leaders because he had financed the erection of a synagogue. Whether other Jews did or did not wonder about the faith of a Gentile, Jesus defended the man because he honoured Jesus by the way he asked his request. The Saviour will defend those who serve him in a humble way.

Then there is the fact that astonishment is a valid Christian response. After all, if Jesus showed astonishment, then we should do so as well if we are to be regarded as Christlike. Astonishment should be a regular Christian experience because salvation is full of wonders. It is a wonder that dead sinners become spiritually alive, it is a wonder that weak saints overcome their spiritual enemies, and it is a wonder that imperfect saints become the perfect inhabitants of heaven.

Of course, the amazing detail here is that a Gentile was making incredible progress in his faith. We can see at least two details in his spiritual outlook. First, he had previously realised that the Jews had the truth in contrast to the Gentiles. Such a realisation was common at that time. Nevertheless, it was a step in the right direction. Second, the man was prepared to take further steps beyond that of the vast majority of Jews. He realised that the promised Messiah had come. Becoming a proselyte took him in touch with the truth. Yet he needed more than that. He also had to come in contact with the Messiah.

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