“Salt and Light”: Matthew 8 | Only Say the Word….

‘“Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”’

Matthew 8:9

What sort of person makes this impression? That he or she could only speak a word and all would be well? In this story, it’s a Roman centurion speaking to Jesus. In the same opening part of Matthew, Chapter 8, Jesus heals a leper, a centurion’s servant, and Peter’s Mother in Law, with a word, a gesture. What manner of man must He have been to do these things?

This is how the prophet Isaiah described Jesus:

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (53:2)

Okay. Well maybe the people Jesus used after himself were more amazing, attractive, powerful….

This is how Paul described his own speaking style, his presence:

“I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 

… my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom,

but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power…” (1 Cor 2:3-4)

‘they say, [Paul continues,] “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily

presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”’ (2 Corinthians 10:10)

For the men and women of God in the Bible, what matters is that God speaks through them, and when he speaks, things happen. It is not the gift or the look of a person that matters with God, or that should matter with us, but only whether God is speaking through him, through her.

Jesus’ encounters with the leper, the centurion, and Peter’s mother-in-law, also show us what it looks like when God speaks and we hear. In fact, his encounters with these three, show us two ways that we can hear from God:

We can hear when we expect to hear.

We can – we often – hear when we do not expect to hear.

The first two encounters – the leper and the centurion – come to Jesus in faith, in expectation: On some level they get who Jesus is, and they believe that if he speaks they or those they love, will be healed.

We don’t hear about that same expectation – that same faith – in Peter’s mother-in-law: Jesus simply arrives and heals her. No request on her part, at least not that we know of. It is not her mustard seed faith, that draws her to him – he goes to her. And in her case, what Jesus does – lays his hand on hers – is the Word that he speaks. If I wave, but say nothing, I am still saying “Hi!” to you.

These two ways of God speaking show us that the Word of God comes to us best when we expect it: When we want to hear it – when we come to God in faith. That is how he prefers it. When we look at Scripture that expectation, is what God desires. He is most pleased with his people when they are in a posture that says: “Only say the word and your servant will be healed.”

But his Word also goes to people with no faith – no expectation. Then, he raises them to new life through healing, through deliverance.

Do you see the difference? In the one case, we have the people of God waiting on a Word from the Lord, and they grow spiritually when they receive it. In the other, we have God speaking a Word that transfers someone from sickness to health, sin to righteousness, darkness to light.

These two ways of God speaking, should fit into the story of your life. So take a look at these, two questions, and begin to speak to and listen for God’s Word to you:

Do you remember the first time you sensed God speaking to you? It could be the moment or the season when God claimed you as his own.

And once you were on that journey with him, do you remember times when God spoke to you, and strengthened or challenged you?  You came to him in faith, and in his timing, he answered.

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