"I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:10-12)

This statement was made by Jesus in response to a centurion who requested that Jesus heal his paralyzed servant at his home. When Jesus replied that, “I will go and heal him,” the centurion told him he did not deserve to have Jesus come under his roof. The centurion then said, “But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” (Matt. 8:8)

According to Matthew, this astonished Jesus, after which Jesus made the above statement. Jesus was commenting on the statement of the centurion but more importantly, was making a statement about the context of his mission. Most people were focused on the fact that Jesus had a healing touch, and they had to be physically touched by Jesus to be healed. The centurion, however, recognized that Jesus’ authority was much greater. He had the ability to summon God’s healing potency through words, transcending the physical touch.

The centurion said “just say the word.” While we could take this as a casual remark used in modern English meaning to give the instruction, the use of “word” here is also important because Jesus also taught the "Word" of God.

Words spoken in praise of or on behalf of God are powerful. These are transcendental words. These are words with higher authority. The reason these words are powerful is because God’s realm lacks the duality we perceive in the physical world. A sincere and loving reference to God thus has God’s essence contained within it--to the extent of the sincerity behind the reference. A person who is deeply relating with God will transmit powerful messages regarding God, because of this deep relationship. The centurion understood that Jesus’ healing ability was due to the authority of Jesus' words. Because Jesus’ intimate relationship with God, he was able to transmit that authority through his words, spoken in praise of God (i.e. “Hallowed by thy Name”).

In distinguishing this ability from others who may be “healing in Jesus’ name,” we again bring to mind the Jesus' statement from Matthew 7:22: ”Many will come to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” It is apparent that healing the sick is not the principle element of Jesus' message.

What Jesus is trying to teach is loving service to God. He makes this clear with the statement from Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

So while many in the Christian world seems mesmerized by Jesus’ acts of healing, we can understand from his statements that his intent in healing was to illustrate the power of faith in God, while instructing us to love, cherish and serve God. This means we must humbly submit ourselves to God, and humbly request His mercy. We must humbly request from God that He allow us to come to know Him, and come to serve Him and do His will. With these humble requests, made with regrets for our previous neglect of God, and made by the grace of His loving servant Jesus Christ, will be heard by God. If we have faith that God will hear us, God will surely hear us and respond according to the level of our faith. Should we make these statements without faith, however, they will have no avail.

And why is faith so important? Because faith is the first step of the journey of a relationship with God. How can we have a relationship with someone we do not trust?

One of the central elements of the physical world that God implanted was that we cannot see Him with these physical eyes. This is because we rejected Him at some point and rejected the notion of doing His will. This is the meaning of the apple in the analogy of Adam and Eve: By taking the apple from the "tree of knowledge", Adam went against God's wishes. Adam wanted to have the “knowledge.” In other words, Adam wanted to be godlike. He wanted to be "like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5). This is more specifically described as envy.. Thus God tossed Adam -- symbolically each of us -- out of the Kingdom of God into the physical realm: The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them..... So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken." The "skin" mentioned here is our physical bodies. And the "ground from which he had been taken" is physical world, from which our physical bodies of "skin" have been taken.

Jesus confirms this situation with the statement referenced here: “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Here Jesus clarifies that although many will come, expecting to “take their places” in the assembly of God in heaven, yet many will be tossed “outside.” What is "outside?"

Outside, again in this context, is the physical world, where we live now. Here we live in darkness. How so? The darkness of the physical world is that we cannot, with these physical eyes, see God. We are in effect, cut off from the spiritual dimension.

Despite our attempt to avoid this reality, the physical world is also a place of suffering. Here people are born in pain, crying (“weeping”). Here we live by struggling, competing and fighting. The physical world is immersed in wars, starvation, terrorism, thievery, dishonesty, disease, aging, and death. Despite our hopes and wishes to the contrary, the physical world is not a kind place. It is a place of suffering. And depending upon the species or position we are born into, we all experience to some degree, “weeping and gnashing of teeth” here in this temporary physical world.

The physical world is the world where those who have rejected God go. Those who participate in loving, serving relationships with God -- like Abraham, Jacob and Issac -- are sitting at the loving “feast” that exists within the kingdom of God. Those who envy God, however, wanting to be God-like, are the “subjects” who are thrown out.

Jesus’ statements are very clear once we understand the context of loving service to God. When people try to interpret Jesus’ statements with selfish, envious goals in mind, they conjure up that Jesus was making various predictions of the future. In the centuries following Jesus, some of these were used by the Church to create fear in the masses, to encourage them go to church and pay tithes, for example. As we now realize, the Church became very wealthy, and its leaders and organizers became wealthy and powerful people. So powerful, in fact, that in recent years we have uncovered an "inner sanctum" of permissive sexual and physical abuse.

Rather, Jesus’ message is quite clear: We will only be happy and pleasing to both Jesus and God if we personally place our focus upon God, and learn to love and serve Him, and thereby take our seat at the “feast” of the kingdom of loving service to God.


This article is republished from The Real Teachings of Jesus.