First Sunday after Epiphany – Thursday
I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. – Luke 7:9; Matthew 8:10
After a long sermon tour through Galilee, Jesus, one day, returned to His own city, Capernaum. And a centurion, an army officer commanding the Roman garrison there, sent the elders of the Jews to Him, beseeching Him and saying through them: “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented” (Matthew 8:6; see also Luke 7:3) And Jesus saith: “I will come and heal him” (Matthew 8:7) and went toward the centurion’s house. But “the centurion sent friends to Him” (Luke 7:6b), saying: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this man, ‘Go,’ and he goeth; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he cometh, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he doeth it” (Matthew 8:8-9). As if to say: As my servants obey my word, so all things must obey Thy word. When Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to them that followed: “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the East and the West, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 10-12). And Jesus sent word to the centurion: “Go thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the self-same hour (v. 13; see also Luke 7:10).
The centurion, with eyes wide open in faith, saw the Savior’s divine glory hidden under the form of a servant, and with great confidence, though in deep humility, he comforted himself with that Savior’s service to him, a poor sinner. God be praised that He has brought such of all ages and nations to have such a true and simple faith. Let us, using God’s means of grace, His precious Gospel of grace and His Sacraments, feed, strengthen, and build up our faith more and more to trust in the “one God and the one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (I Timothy 2:5-6a), ever remembering that “faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
PRAYER – My gracious, merciful, and dear Lord Jesus Christ, preserve in me a true knowledge both of my unworthiness and of Thy undeserved kindness and mercy toward me. Also, preserve me in the saving faith, anchored to Thy holy “precious blood, …as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:19). Oh my good Shepherd, continue to faithfully guide and lead me in the truth of Thy Word throughout all of my remaining days in this world. Amen.
Praise to Thee and adoration; blessed Jesus, Son of God;
who to serve Thine own creation, didst partake of flesh and blood.
Teach me that I never may, from Thy fold or pasture stray,
but with zeal and joy exceeding, follow where Thy steps are leading.
Let me never, Lord, forsake Thee, e’en tho’ bitter pain and strife
on my way shall overtake me; but may I thro’ all my life,
walk in fervent love to Thee; in all woe for comfort flee,
to Thy birth, Thy death, and passion, till I see Thy full salvation.
Hymn 401, stanzas 1-2 (TLH)