Bridge Builders

Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith

June 2, 2013

Rev. Rita S. Platt

“Bridge Builders”

 Scripture    Luke 7:1-10

 Twice in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus is flabbergasted.

 Once, in Mark 6:6, after Jesus is rejected in Nazareth, his own hometown, he is dumbfounded — stunned — at their unbelief! To­day in Luke 7, Jesus is astonished again, this time by just the oppo­site — he is flabbergasted at a Roman centurion’s amazing faith. Jesus turns to the crowd following him and says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith!” (v. 9).

 Who is this man of such faith who causes Jesus to stop in his tracks and marvel? We learn he is a Roman soldier, a centurion, in charge of 100 soldiers. He is a foreigner, a Gentile, a non-Israelite. He has a slave who is ill. He approaches Jesus for healing. Despite his protestations of worthiness, his Jewish friends know he is a noble man. He is humble. He loves his slave. He respects the Jew­ish people and their faith so much that he builds a synagogue for them. He does not consider himself even worthy for Jesus to come and enter his home or worthy enough to approach Jesus directly.

 But the centurion’s insight into Jesus is even more remarkable. He perceives that Jesus, like himself, is a man under authority. Just as a centurion can command soldiers and slaves because of an au­thority derived from elsewhere, so Jesus has an authority derived from elsewhere. Because of this authority, Jesus can simply say a word and the centurion’s slave will be healed. Such depth of in­sight — such faith — Jesus had not encountered even among his own people.

As three cousins ran through the woods, jumping over fallen trees, zigzagging through knee-high ferns, and pushing branches out of their way, a chorus of laughter rose in the still air.

“Don’t be so pokey, Michael,” teased his older cousin. “Watch out for that rock on the left,” Sam warned the boys. A yelp went up as Jeremy stumbled. “Come on, come on. We’re almost there,” Sam hollered. “I can hear the river now and there’s the bridge to Uncle David’s camp.”

The boys lined up along the edge of the cliff. “You expect us to walk across that creaky, old thing?” Michael whined. “No way! It’s swaying and it’s a long way down.”

“It sways because it’s a swinging bridge. See the cables attached to that big pine tree and then attached to those posts over there?” Sam asked. “They hold up the bridge. It’s safe. I’ll show you,” and he stepped out. Carefully he began to cross on the wooden footboards. “Come on, you cowards. Have a little faith. I’ll stand right here and wait for you.”

Cautiously Michael and Jeremy moved onto the bridge. “Keep your hands on me,” Sam directed. As the boys neared him, Sam said, “That’s good. Stop a minute and rest, but keep your hands on the cables.”

Michael and Jeremy obeyed, sneaking a glance at the rushing water below. “Has anybody ever fallen from here?” Michael asked. “Not that I know of,” Sam replied. “Are you ready to start again?”

“Okay. Just take it slow,” Jeremy pleaded.

“Do as I say and you’ll be fine,” Sam said with a mischievous grin on his face. Then he began to rock the bridge.

Do you know that feeling?  Have you ever felt like your life was a bridge and it was swaying – but it wasn’t Sam who was swaying it – it was God.

You stepped out in faith – you found yourself in this place. God responded in a way you couldn’t understand. And you were no longer certain about what you believed. And maybe you wondered how you could ever believe in a God who would do this.

If you have ever felt that way or you know someone who has, I want to encourage you to learn a new definition of faith.

Sweeping across Germany at the end of World War II, Allied forces searched farms and houses looking for snipers. At one aban­doned house, almost a heap of rubble, searchers with flashlights found their way to the basement. There, on the crumbling wall, a victim of the Holocaust had scratched a Star of David. And be­neath it, in rough lettering, this message:  

            I believe in the Sun — even when it does not shine.
            I believe in love — even when it is not shown.
            I believe in God — even when he does not speak

Faith is never an arrogant dogmatic certitude. Faith is always a sure confidence in the midst of uncertainty. Faith is not trying, but trusting.

It’s getting back on the bridge and knowing even if you fall you will be caught in the amazing arms of God.