I assume that each one reading this comment earnestly wants to be heard by the Lord; and, if so, needs to know what words to use, what feelings to express and what attitudes to assume, in order to be heard by God.
Well, here are four words we need to understand and sincerely adopt: ‘I am not worthy’! They were uttered by three Bible characters, two who were very prominent and one who is only mentioned briefly. These are: Jacob, grandson of Abraham and founder of the Jewish nation; Cornelius, a soldier Jesus encountered; and John the Baptist, forerunner of our Lord.
Two said, ‘I am not worthy’, when seeking help from God and one as a matter of testimony. Let us look briefly at these three occasions.
Forgiven sinner: Jacob (Genesis 32:10)
This man had the reputation of being a kind of trickster, and the reputation was well deserved. He tricked his brother out of his birthright and used clever measures to enhance his possessions, when he was in the household of his father-in-law Laban. Jacob means ‘supplanter’.
But he was an object of the sovereign grace of God and he was forgiven all his sins. God chose him before he was born (Romans 9:11-13). Perhaps because of this, the very name of God as ‘the God of Jacob’ means the God of grace, who loves us in spite of our sins.
When confronted with a dangerous situation, a meeting with his brother Esau, he cried out to God, taking his place as an unworthy person, and God heard and delivered him.
Humble supplicant (Matthew 8:8)
The centurion mentioned in this second text was a powerful man, the commander of 100 soldiers in the Roman army.
He had a beloved servant who was paralysed and in terrible agony, and desperately needed the healing touch of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The centurion went to Jesus and begged him for help and the gracious Saviour promised his aid. ‘I will come’, he said.
But the centurion insisted Jesus just extend his healing power from a distance and not come to his home. ‘I am not worthy that you should come under my roof’, he said.
Jesus, according to Matthew 8:10, marvelled at this response. He commended this man for his humble faith and healed his servant.
Faithful servant (Luke 3:16)
John the Baptist is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. A relative of Jesus Christ, he came out of the wilderness preaching repentance to the people of Israel. It was he who uttered the famous words, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
John was a prophet who bridged the gap between the old and new covenants and introduced our Lord to the world. He had the privilege of baptising our Lord in the River Jordan. What an exalted privilege!
But John did not parade his lofty status. He did not brag of his position. He said he was not even worthy to loose the sandal strap of the Saviour. What an example for all of us!
To be heard by God, we all must come to him with humility, knowing we all deserve hell. We are all sinners. But, praise God, if we come with feelings of ill desert and trust only in Jesus’ shed blood, God will hear us and answer our prayers.
John F. Thornbury
The author was pastor of Winfield Baptist Church, Winfield, Pennsylvania, for 44 years (1965–2009) and is currently pastor of worship at Bellepoint Baptist Church, Frankfort, Kentucky. Several of his book titles have been published by Evangelical Press.