Matins Devotion: April 24, 2023
The Roman centurion knows that he is an outsider, which is why he has some of the Jewish leaders go to Christ on his behalf with this request to heal his servant. Despite the fact that he loves the Jews and has shown loyalty and affection to them, he’s not a child of Abraham, and thus knows that he is unworthy to approach Jesus himself. That’s also why he tells Jesus that he’s not worthy to come under his roof. “I’m a poor wretched stranger,” he’s essentially saying. “So just speak your word. And I know that will be sufficient to heal my servant because, just as I’m a man armed with Caesar’s authority, you’re armed with God’s authority. Just as I give orders to soldiers and make them obey, you can give orders to death itself, and death will be subject to you.”
And yet, it’s through these words that this man proves that he’s not an outsider at all. Through faith in Christ, he has become a faithful son of Abraham. And, in fact, his confession is so remarkable that Jesus wants everyone to know this. “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith,” Jesus tells the crowds. In other words, “this man knows that he’s a sinner unworthy to draw near the face of the Savior He knows is God’s own Son. And through that faith, He has become far worthier than all of you to receive my salvation, far worthier than those of you who should have confessed the same thing, but didn’t.”
And so, in all of this, we see the fantastic irony of the Gospel. Who are the children of God? Those who know they are orphans and runaways, outside of the Father’s house. Who are the only ones worthy to receive God’s love? Those who know that they are utterly unworthy to receive it. Who are the only ones who will dwell in the house of the Lord? Those who confess that they do not deserve to have Christ come under their own roofs. The only ones who can be washed clean in the blood of Jesus Christ through faith are the filthy.
So see your iniquities, lament them, grieve over them. Despise your unworthiness. Confess your sins. And you will hear the word of forgiveness. In the word of absolution, in the Gospel of Christ, you will hear the One armed with the authority of His Father declare that you are not only a son of Abraham, but a son of God.