So Great Faith

What Does Great Faith Look and Act Like?

Matthew 8:1-13

January 19, 2014 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Matthew 8:10)


A.    What does great faith look like? What does it act like?


1.      Do you imagine it looks like a pious angel, or like a sweating athlete, or like a wrestling sumo-wrestler? Struggling, striving to “believe” and trust God?

2.      Well, GREAT faith looks nothing like what we imagine


B.     Great faith does some embarrassing things

C.     Great faith comes out of desperate times and troubles

D.    Great faith is what we all need to have, every day of our lives!

E.     Let’s see just what it takes to have great faith, effectual faith, powerful faith, real faith, life changing faith, heart resting faith… By looking at TWO men’s faith in ONE Saviour!


II.    Background (Matthew 8:1-4)


A.    Jesus has been teaching all day


1.      Up on a mountain, He sat and taught His disciples – His followers

2.      People gathered from all over Galilee and sat and listened, and loved every minute of it


B.     Jesus had taught about…


1.      How blessed are the poor in spirit– are the humble, and broken in chapter 5

2.      The value of MOURNING and sorrow 

3.      The importance of MEEKNESS

4.      Hungering and thirsting after righteousness

5.      Being Merciful

6.      That Christians are Salt, and Light in this dark and empty world!

7.      The Importance of the Law of God

8.      Against Adultery and Lust

9.      Against Divorce

10.  About NOT Paying-Back Evil for Evil

11.  And about giving your money away

12.  Jesus taught How to Pray in chapter 6

13.  About Pre-Judging People

14.  About False Prophets

15.  About False Believers


C.    When He was finished, He got up to go to Peter’s house in Capernaum

D.    And, everyone just got up and followed Him, watching Him and waiting to see if He would say or do anything else

E.     Except for one man, a leper


1.      Pushed through the crowd


a.       He had heard enough that it made him get up from the grass and walk right up to Jesus!

b.      That crowd of people, spread apart at the sight of this leper. Why?

c.       Leprosy is a bacterial skin disease that caused the skin to die and fall off

d.      Leprosy was very contagious

e.       No one wanted to catch this man’s terminal disease!


2.      Yet, he walked right up to Jesus
And let’s take a good look at what that sick, weak, rejected leper does next…


3.      He worships Jesus!

4.      He believed on Jesus for the impossible – and it was impossible to ask that someone actually HEAL leprosy!

5.      And then this desperate leper, RESTED in Christ’s compassion and will – he left the result up to Jesus “if THOU wilt!” THAT WAS ALL HE COULD DO!!! And it was ENOUGH!


F.     Jesus must have smiled


1.      When He reached out and TOUCHED that leper

2.      And then replied, “I will! Be thou clean

3.      And then the impossible happened! He became clean!


a.       No more hanging pieces of flesh dangled from his fingers and face!

b.      No more oozing sores

c.       No more painful, sore, red bruises all over his body

d.      He was whole! Perfectly healthy


4.      And it all happened instantly!

5.      And it all happened because of his FAITH in Jesus!


G.    The Leper’s Faith! This leper had FAITH in Jesus


1.      Not just believing in His existence – like some try and do


a.       That’s what that crowd had

b.      An enjoying faith – a learning faith

c.       A faith that accepted Jesus was a great Teacher

d.      But that was all the people had


2.      This leper believed Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ!
Just like everyone who was ever born again in the Bible (Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts 8:37)!

3.      He had a kind of faith that got him to talk straight to Jesus – no intermediaries, no mediators, no church, or temples, or mosques – right to Jesus

4.      He had the kind of faith that WORSHIPPED Jesus! WHO do YOU worship? This leper has more sense than most people today! He knew to worship Jesus!

5.      He had the kind of faith that would ask Jesus for the impossible – prayed right to HIM!

6.      And he had the kind of faith that would let Jesus decide best what should happen in his own life, based on Jesus’ will, not on his own!


H.    Everyone else had faith to HEAR Jesus… But THIS MAN had faith to BELIEVE Jesus!


III. Main Message


A.    A Roman Centurion Meets Jesus - The Desperation (Matthew 8:5)


1.      Not an off-chance meeting

2.      This Centurion went out of his way to go and find Jesus, and the stop Jesus on His journey to Peter’s house (8:14)

3.      This Centurion


a.       Was a Gentile – NOT a Jew – not someone who should be interested in Jesus

b.      He was a Roman – that meant he worshipped Idols, and Mythological gods like, Jupiter, and Mercury, Saturn and Diana, Mars and Vulcan!

c.       More than that, he was a Roman military oppressor!


1)      He was a soldier

2)      An army commander over 100 men who maintained control of the people for Rome. That’s why he was referred to as a Centurion!


4.      This Centurion had a servant!


a.       A very sick servant – a Jewish servant! Somebody who worked for him

b.      He had the palsy – a paralysis

c.       Grievously tormented by the palsy – in agonising pain

d.      The physicians could do nothing for him

e.       He was so sick, he could not be moved

f.       And this Centurion, this hard, fierce, oppressive military man, loved his servant, and wanted him healed – wanted him well!


5.      So the Centurion hears about a man named Jesus


a.       He has never felt worthy of actually being in Jesus’ presence before

b.      And yet he has heard what Jesus has said

c.       Probably by the very servant who was now sick


6.      And the Centurion decides to risk embarrassment, and rejection, by asking Jesus to come and heal his servant!


B.     The Centurion’s Worship (Matthew 8:6)


1.      The Centurion doesn’t just ask, he “beseeches” Jesus – begs Him!


a.       Romans, especially Roman soldiers never “begged” anybody! They commanded!

b.      But here he was beseeching Jesus to do something impossible – to completely heal his servant!


2.      The Centurion worships Jesus – calls Him LORD!


a.       Do you know who the Romans referred to as ‘Lord?’

b.      There was only one person they were taught to call Lord… the one who was supreme commander of all men… the only one who was the ultimate being in charge!

c.       Caesar!

d.      And yet this Centurion calls JESUS Lord!

e.       Oh how important that little word is, in our worship of Jesus!


3.      The Centurion ASKS Jesus for an impossible thing – a miracle! NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!


a.       Did NOT ask for himself

b.      But for that Jewish servant, laying on a bed back in his home


C.    The Lord’s Answer (Matthew 8:7)


1.      I can imagine all the people following Jesus, seeing this Centurion and all his entourage fall before Jesus, and their mouths dropping in utter shock!

2.      And when those close by heard that Centurion ask for a miracle, they were amazed that such a man would even believe in such things

3.      But the biggest surprise came when Jesus said, “Okay, I will come heal him!” (8:7)

4.      You could have heard a pin drop!

5.      Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, the Christ of God, just simply agreed to go to a Gentile’s home and heal a lowly servant. He promised he would come and heal him!


D.    The Centurion’s So Great Faith! (Matthew 8:8,9)


1.      His Faith


a.       Was not in his own importance – he humbles himself!


1)      This Centurion was a very important person in Capernaum – but in the presence of Jesus, he was a nobody! Someone unworthy! Unworthy is a very strong word

2)      He does not say, “My servant is not worthy that thou shouldest come into his chamber, because it is in the garret;” But “I” am not worthy that thou shouldest come into my house.

3)      This Centurion was right! He truly WAS unworthy!


a)      He was NOT a Jew – he was a Gentile dog, like you and me!

b)      He was not innocent – had done many things wrong as a soldier

c)      He was a sinner, separate from the true God by his own sins!


b.      But his faith was in the very words that Jesus could speak!


1)      He rightly knew Jesus had power to speak and command things to happen

2)      That Jesus had power in His words

3)      Yes, Jesus could touch and heal

4)      But Jesus didn’t have to touch, to heal

5)      All Jesus ever has to do is say what needs to be done, no matter how impossible, and it will be done!


c.       This Centurion believed that Jesus could suspend the very laws of physics and walk on water, calm the raging sea, raise the dead, and even heal his dying servant!

d.      People expected Jesus to go and touch that servant, but this Centurion knew the power was in Christ’s WORDS!

e.       What are you holding in YOUR HANDS right now? The words of God!


2.      His Reasoning


a.       The Centurion had great power in his own words


1)      Commanded things to be done, and they were done

2)      No one ever argued or disobeyed his commands

3)      Why? Because the Centurion’s power came from a power ABOVE him that gave him that power – his authority and power came from Caesar!


b.      Well, the same was true with Jesus’ power


1)      “I can control men…, but YOU can control all things!”

2)      This Centurion knew that Jesus could command impossible things to be done, and they would be done (Ps 33:8,9) “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”

3)      There would be nothing impossible to Jesus!

4)      All because Jesus’ power was given to Him from above – from His Father!


E.     Christ’s Praise (Matthew 8:10-12)


1.      It was then that Jesus must have really smiled!

2.      He MARVELLED – Jesus was AMAZED at what He just heard!


a.       This is one of only two times when Jesus is said to have marvelled!

b.      He turned to everyone following Him and praised this GENTILE, ROMAN CENTURION…

c.       Not because the Centurion was GREAT, but because his FAITH was great!

d.      Here is a man, a Gentile man using GREAT FAITH

e.       More than any Jew had ever used before!


3.      Jesus BOASTS that the GENTILES (you and me) will sit down one day with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven!

4.      He REBUKES the Jews… the very people who SHOULD be believing, will be cast out and locked out of the kingdom of heaven forever!


F.     Christ Speaks that Word (Matthew 8:13)


1.      You can return home now. The word is given!

2.      As confidently as you have believed, so have you received

3.      The Centurion’s servant was miraculously healed at that very same time!

4.      And the Centurion was never the same!


IV. Conclusion


A.    Both that weak Leper, and this powerful Centurion had great faith in Jesus Christ!

B.     But, we are like the crowds…


1.      We only love the teachings, and even love to watch the miracles.

2.      But we are just tagging along until we get bored

3.      And we never have anything happen for us!


C.    Jesus here reveals the reason for so little faith among Christians:


1.      So little humility – we think we are pretty good! When we are NOT!

2.      Trusting in our good works, or in our religion, or in this church or that church

3.      Instead of only in Jesus the Messiah – in HIS abilities, as the resurrected Son of God!

4.      He has ALL power! (Matthew 28:18). And that means all power!


D.    We must trust Jesus like the Leper, AND like the Centurion…


1.      That He will do right!

2.      And He will have compassion on your need

3.      THAT, Faith, when placed squarely on Jesus, will change not only our circumstances, but our very lives as well

4.      Faith is rewarded in proportion to our confidence in the authority and character of God.

As thou hast believed” (9:29,30; 15:28; 17:20; 9:23)

5.      It can save a soul!


E.     Hey, when was the last time that you:


1.      Pushed through the crowd to spend time at the feet of Jesus?

2.      Humbled yourself before the Son of God?

3.      Worshipped Jesus? Not just “God” but worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ!

4.      Believed on Jesus for the impossible!? For the forgiveness of all your sins!

5.      And then RESTED in Christ’s compassion and will?


a.       Leave the result of your asking, begging of Jesus up to Jesus “if THOU wilt!

b.      Thank God that Jesus does have a will! And it is always right! Not willing than any should perish, but that all, everyone in this room, should come to repentance! Today!


6.      That is when you will be enjoying “SO GREAT FAITH!”