Read Matthew 8:5-13. Jesus found something in the Centurion, a Gentile, that he hadn’t found among God’s chosen people. A faith that acts. He came to Jesus. He also believed Jesus had the authority to heal. Just say the “word”. He wasn’t thinking “Could”, but “Would” he heal. Jesus can bridge any gap. Why do you think Jesus was amazed by his faith? If Jesus is all-knowing, how can he be amazed by anything? What does this story tell teach us about Jesus’ humanity and his deity?
The centurion believed the power of Jesus could transcend spatial barriers, something Jesus closest disciples could not yet imagine. See John 11:21. Martha believed that Jesus’ physical presence was necessary for Lazarus to be made well. But there is no such thing as distance to an omnipresent God. Name some of the ways we can help eliminate distance for others to approach Jesus. In what ways can we remember that Jesus is present with us right now to help us point others to Him?
Read Acts 10:28. In Peter’s day, there was a barrier between Jew and Gentile. Gentiles allowed and did many things the Jews viewed as detestable in the eyes of God. Jews did not believe God’s love reached them. But, Peter finally realized that no one is beyond the reach of grace, including himself. It is still true today. Some are ‘unclean’ because of their immorality, and some are “unclean” because they think they can impress God with their morality. What is it about human nature that focuses on our differences more than our similarities? How can the church model now what Abraham’s table will look like then?
Read Matthew 8:11,12. In Matthew’s gospel, it becomes clear that there is no such thing as ethic superiority. Jesus declares that all people groups will be welcome to feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even more shocking, those who boast in their ethnic superiority may well lose their seat at the table. Jesus redefined what it means to be the true Israel, the people of God, not on the basis of race but on the basis of faith. Read Acts 10:34,35; 1 Timothy 2:3,6. How can we learn to see people the way God sees people who need Jesus like we do?