God wants you to build your faith

Matthew 8:1-13

Jerry A Collins




v                 What does it take to have great faith?

v                 Does Jesus have the power to heal us?

v                 What is it about faith that impresses Jesus?


The bottom line is that God wants us to trust Him, believe Him, depend on Him, that is, have faith in Him. On this side of the grave it is faith not sight. On the other side of the grave it is sight and no longer faith. So, an essential component of a dynamic and robust spiritual life is the building up of our faith. Faith is the confidence or reliance we place on the object of our faith. But it is even a bit more than that. It is a commitment I make, a reliance I place upon that object, before the knowledge or outcome is known. Jesus has been looking for this faith all throughout Israel and it is not until this event in Matthew 8 that He finds it. Jesus praises this display of faith in the story and so we can learn what faith does to earn it.


He was followed 1 On the heels of this great Sermon on the Mount discourse, crowds swell and follow. Especially since He spoke and acted with perfect authority 7:29. In the next few chapters Matthew presents a case of events demonstrating Jesus authority over disease, and nature, demons, and death. All of this to reveal that Jesus has the credentials of the King. The next two chapters record nine manifestations of Christ’s power and the faith required as a result. Here is the first case:

A leper 2 This first person is an outcast in society. He comes with the dreaded disease that ostracized him from the community. He came to Jesus in order to be made clean. First, he bowed down—a posture of recognition of his Jesus’ authority and in humility as utterly dependent and unable to do anything about his condition. The Centurion will also display this humility and utter neediness in his situation vs 8. It seems that the needy and humble approach is the way of faith. It casts aside self-righteousness or self-sufficiency. Then, he says, Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean. So he knows where to go and how to come. The Law’s verdict is that he is unclean and so unfit to even participate in Temple worship.

Jesus response 3-4 Jesus is willing to cleanse him. God’s answers to our requests are not linked to our will but to God’s will. God will do what He wants, not what we want, unless what we want is what God wants. The healing took place immediately. Jesus touched this outcast whom no one would dare touch. But Jesus’ touch made him clean and fit for the Temple. We also see here Jesus humility and compassion. He did not stay on the mountaintop and continue with His declarations. Instead, He began to deal with human need at its lowest and most retched level. These were all in response to appeals of afflicted people. Like Jesus, we should be willing to do all the good we can, to all of the people we can, everything we can. The Law declared this Leper unclean, and could only bar him from the holy place. Jesus could satisfy the Law by making him clean and the n as in vs 4, sending him to the priest to be reinstated into the worship of the Temple and the community of Israel. All of this, to be a testimony that drew attention to the fact that Jesus as Messiah has come to deliver people from their infirmities and to take hold of sin and it’s consequences not hesitating to do so in compassion for the poor, suffering outcasts. All of this in response to faith that realizes the power of God is exercised by the will of God.


Later on Jesus enters Capernaum, a city on the northern shores of the sea of Galilee. Capernaum was on the main thoroughfare from the north into Israel, and so had a military presence there. A centurion was a military officer of over a hundred men so this unit was stationed there. Here the next faith episode.

The occasion 5-7 This is a unique situation—a request by a Roman soldier on behalf of a servant who we learn is paralyzed and suffering intensely. We have no idea of the motivation here—either this servant is irreplaceable or he is a very kind master. But his request also speaks of humility. 1. For coming on behalf of a servant and he a military leader. 2. For coming to a Jew as a Roman commander. The need obviously was there, so he comes to Jesus asking for this help. Jesus responds, I will come and heal him 7. (1) First Jesus is willing to go. This willingness was introduced in 1-4. Here He is willing to go again but now into a Gentile’s house. Jesus is available to meet needs that no one else can or is willing to. There are no social or ethnic or political barriers to Jesus’ ministry to people. (2) Second, Jesus has the confidence to say I will go and heal him. It will happen and there is no doubt about it.

The request 8-9 First, states that he is not worthy for Jesus to come into his house. This guy was a Roman, a non-Jew, and he felt inferior to Jesus. There had to be recognition that Jesus was more than a prophet. His request is only that Jesus would speak the Word. Jesus did not even have to travel to his home for this. He did not have to lay hands on him or speak to him or pray over him. The condition of his servant, someone he obviously cared for, made him realize that his authority did not mean anything and that he was unworthy. This guys faith was tremendous because he considered the object of his faith powerful. Jesus had done mighty deeds and His reputation has spread. While the Roman commander had the authority to command men to do things physically possible, Jesus had the authority to do much more—to command things physically impossible.

Jesus response 10-13 Jesus marveled at this demonstration of faith. A faith that he had so far not found in all of His travels throughout Israel. Jesus had seen every kind of response but this one was the greatest of them all. What He had often seen were the self-righteous and self-sufficient. People demanding signs to prove who He was, and  still others following Him for a while and then leaving later. This centurion’s faith was different. He had no ulterior motive nor hidden agenda. He came clean with the Lord and saw Jesus as a worthy object of His faith. Because of the difference between this man’s faith and that of the Jews, Jesus adds in vs 11-12 that many will come from the east and the west and recline with Abe and Jacob in the kingdom. But the sons of the kingdom, many of the Jews, will not. They would be cast out when people from all over the world would enter the kingdom and sit down with these great ones. John even told us that Jesus came unto His own, but His own received Him not, but as many as received Him He gave the right to be called sons of God John 1:12. Because they would not come there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth—a picture of painful proportions of judgment. Without faith it is impossible to please God—and that faith now must be placed in His Son. Refusal to do so brings eternal peril. Jesus recognized this man’s faith in Jesus strong ability exercised before any outcome and he healed the servant just as requested.

1. Jesus did not heal everyone on earth and is not doing so now—Paul had his thorn in the flesh—because it is not yet time to do that. By Hios powerful word he is able to heal and we can come to him confidently in prayer. In the NT we find that God may not heal in the way we ask or at the time we ask but we can not expect that He will. So, like Jesus, we learn to add Nevertheless, thy will be done acknowledging the Lord is sovereign.

2. Like the centurion to have great faith is to recognize that I am unworthy and Christ has great authority. God defines great faith when we have nothing left we can do. It is true all along, but we just do not recognize it.