1When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people,He went to Capernaum. 2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. Luke 7:1-10
Jesus frequently complained of his disciples’ “little faith” despite witnessing his incredible miracles (Matt. 6:30, 8:30, 14:31, 16:8).
To be honest, if I could only see a demonstration like Jesus stilling the sea or feeding the 5,000, then faith would not be so hard. Well, apparently these disciples, being just like me and you, still got rattled, and in such pinches, had short memories.
I really like the contrast of the centurion against the backdrop of such teeth chattering. The soldier’s trusted beloved servant was dying. He knew something of Jesus since the Lord made Capernaum his home base for a time (Matt. 4:13) and, in fact, had taught at the very synagogue the centurion built for the Jews in the city (Luke 7:5). Obviously a proselyte, seeing the declining condition of his slave, the centurion told the Jewish elders in his presence to go and tell Jesus of the matter, and to ask him to come and heal him. Dutifully they went and found Jesus, and told him of the situation, making quite a case for the captain’s worthiness. Immediately the Lord turned and made his way to the centurion’s house, only to be cut off by a second wave of the soldier’s friends.
It appears the centurion was not ready to have a street named after him as the Jews might have done. He soberly assessed his character compared to that of Christ. Deeming himself unworthy to entertain Jesus, or even to meet him face to face, he sent more emissaries to Jesus to deliver this simple alternative: the centurion was a man of authority, whose soldiers and servants all jumped at his command. So too was Jesus a man of the authority. All he had to do was “say the word” and his slave would be healed.
Stopping in his tracks, hearing this, Jesus marveled (was amazed, astonished) at the commander’s faith and his humility. He proclaimed to the large group of onlookers tracking his every move, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” (Luke 7:9)
And yes, when all returned to the centurion’s home, the servant was perfectly fine.
Here’s the point. Do I have the kind of faith to decline the chance to see and feel, knowing that all that must be done can be accomplished by a simple remote proclamation? Am I so sold on God’s power to create something out of nothing, or to reverse the powers of nature, that I never lose hope? When the storms of life buffet me and the winds are swirling and the rain pelting, am I frozen in fear with teeth chattering, or huddled in the bow of His boat peacefully asleep?
The Lord wants us to have the same kind of faith as the centurion–sight unseen. He wants to again marvel at our trust as we grapple with life’s frequent storms.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
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I’ve read through this passage so many times and all too often come to the same guiltiness of my own disbelief, until this time. I truly feel like Jesus uses this story to show us that even with His closest of friends, faith isn’t always easy. In fact, Jesus uses the Centurion contrasted against the disciples to show us that doubt is a critical teaching tool for every one of us.