READ: Proverbs 19, Luke 7, 3 John
Jesus neither cries nor dances when we want Him to (Luke 7:32), for He is subject to neither our authority or our expectations. John the Baptist, who knew Jesus best, was still offended (or at least disappointed) in both what Jesus didn’t do and in how He did what He did do. John did not expect Jesus to be political. After all he prophesied Jesus would come to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. John was disappointed in how Jesus fulfilled His spiritual ministry. It was Jesus’ lack of spiritual ambition that confused John. It is often those who know Jesus best, who are His intimates, that most grievously misunderstand Him. The confusions of the righteous are more complicated in their subtlety than the outright denials of the unconverted.
It took a Roman soldier to show real faith, a foreigner who was not a Jew, not a disciple, but an oppressor, a member of the ruling occupying class. This Roman centurion asks Jesus “not to trouble Himself . . . but say the word . . . for I am also a man placed under authority” (vv. 6-9). Jesus marvels at this “great faith” and comments that He has never seen anything like it. It took a Roman to point out to God’s chosen that faith includes submission to authority. Faith obeys what God wants; faith does not demand God or trouble Him for what self wants. We have turned faith into a means of obtaining our will. Jesus is pleased by the type of faith that submits to His divine desires.
The faith that submits to the divine will is not a fatalistic, removed faith. Faith is not a detached belief in God’s power. Faith includes intimate devotion. A known sinner comes to where Jesus is, anoints His feet with tears and oil, and does “not cease to kiss” His feet (v. 45). Jesus regards this devotion as faith, for He says to the woman: “Your faith has saved you, go in peace” (v. 50). The faith that saves us is a faith that draws near to Jesus and lavishes love, thanks, and worship on Him. We cannot worship from afar. We cannot worship with retained dignity. We cannot worship in truth if our worship is restrained or sporadic. Worship which is the fruit of faith is intimate and unceasing. The faith that saves us is the type of faith that does not cease kissing the feet of Jesus. Saving faith is not a one-time act; saving faith is a life-long obedience and submission. The faith that overcomes the world is first the faith that has overcome self, cast all inhibitions aside, fallen at the feet of Jesus in unceasing devotion, and trusted that God’s will and way are better than anything we could insist on.