Miracles for the Undeserving

Scripture Focus: Luke 7.6-8
2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them. 
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 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.” 
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. 

Reflection: Miracles for the Undeserving
By John Tillman

Deserving. Undeserving.
Faithful. Unfaithful.
Believing. Unbelieving.

These themes run through Capernaum and are especially highlighted in the story of the centurion and his servant.

The Jewish elders who came to Jesus said the centurion was “deserving” of a miracle. Why? Because he loved “their nation” and financially supported their place of worship. They liked him because he helped them. 

Who deserves a miracle? Good people? Benefactors? Public servants? Important people? People we like?

In short, no one. God owes no one miracles. The centurion doesn’t deserve a miracle for being “one of the good ones,” and the Jews don’t deserve one either. Miracles are acts of mercy, not spiritual reimbursements.

That doesn’t mean the centurion didn’t show good qualities. One of the centurion’s best qualities is that he recognized that he was undeserving. His humility shows in his sending servants to stop Jesus from coming to his home. His repentance shows in his acts of mercy and service to the town. His faith shows in his recognition that Jesus did not need to be present to act in mercy.

The amazing detail of this story is not that Jesus did the community a solid by paying off the nice guy who did nice things with a nice miracle. It is that the outcast Gentile, working for the Empire, representing a man who thought himself to be God, recognized that Jesus, not Caesar, was the ultimate authority. The centurion calls Jesus “Lord.” But the insiders, the Jews, the people worshiping the God who sent Jesus and called him “My beloved Son,” did not recognize Jesus’s authority. They rejected him as Lord.

Jesus did many miracles in Capernaum. However, Capernaum was not a place of great faith. Jesus would condemn the area for persisting in unbelief despite all the miracles he did there. (Matthew 11.23-24)

No one is deserving, yet Jesus does miracles for the undeserving. No one is completely faithful, yet Jesus is amazed at the faith that he finds on the earth. Those who should believe—who saw miracles—rejected faith. Those who have reasons not to believe—being the “wrong” race, party, or having the wrong job—are found among those who call Jesus “Lord.”

The gospel is the ultimate miracle. None of us deserve it, yet Jesus offers it to us. Call him Lord, and come under his authority.

Thank God that he does miracles for the undeserving.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. — Matthew 5.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Zephaniah 3 (Listen 3:38)
Luke 7 (Listen 7:14)

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A Fight Won with Quietness :: Throwback Thursday

Luke 7.22
Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

From John:
In this letter, Amy Carmichael encourages a young Christian worker in the spiritual disciplines needed to endure the spiritual opposition that each of us will face when we embrace Jesus as not just a kindly, dead philosopher, but a living savior and Lord who walks with us.

When we learn to walk aware of Christ’s presence, we begin to notice what he wants us to notice, to see what he wants us to see.

Reflection: A Fight Won with Quietness :: Throwback Thursday
By Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

The fight to which we have been called is not an easy fight. We are touching the very center of the devil’s power and kingdom, and he hates us intensely and fights hard against us. We have no chance at all of winning in this fight unless we are disciplined soldiers, utterly out-and-out and uncompromising, and men and women of prayer.

So first, give much time to quietness. We have to get our help for the most part direct from our God. We are here to help, not to be helped, and we must each one of us learn to walk with God alone and feed on his Word so as to be nourished. Don’t only read and pray—listen. And don’t evade the slightest whisper of guidance that comes. God make you very sensitive, and very obedient.

Fill up the crevices of time with the things that matter most. This will cost something, but it is worth it. “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

No one is of much use who does not truly want to learn what it means to pray and listen and definitely choose the life that is hid with Christ in God.

Keep close, keep close. If you are close you will be keen. Your heart will be set on the things that abide. You will drink of his Spirit and you will thirst for souls even as he thirsts. You will not be attracted by the world that crucified him, but you will love the people in that world who have never seen his beauty and are losing so much more than they know. You will live to share your joy in Him, Nothing else will count for much.

All this will be, if you walk with Him as with a visible companion, from dawn through all the hours till you go to sleep at night.

Prayer: The Greeting
You are my hiding place…you surround me with shouts of deliverance. — Psalm 32.8

Today’s Readings
Exodus 4 (Listen – 4:17) 
Luke 7 (Listen – 7:14)

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A lamp for our feet forces us to engage with where we are, not look only at distant destinations.

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As Carmichael implies, meditation is more than just privately “thinking” about God’s word. It is occupation—something that implies action.