Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Centurion's Faith

Luke 7:1-10 (ESV)
After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. [2] Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. [3] When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. [4] And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have you do this for him, [5] for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue." [6] And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. [7] Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. [8] For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." [9] When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." [10] And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

This is a great passage in the story of Jesus Christ. Here you have a Roman centurion, a gentile, one of the few who was a believer, that is he believed in the God of Israel, and he sends two Jews to talk to him for him. There of course were converts to Judaism in Jesus day, Jesus talks of the Pharisees going to the ends of the world for one proselyte. It is doubtful there were many. Nevertheless there were some and this centurion had his manhood altered for the cause. Huge barrier there to “evangelism.” Who knows how it was this man came to believe. He was stationed in Israel, probably worked as an “advisor” for Herod. He had men under him, others from whom he took orders. He lived with the people, and probably took a Jewish wife. Men will do some crazy things for a gal. He seems though to have taken the faith to heart. He built them a synagogue, you can still see its ruins today.
His friends thought this made him worthy enough to have Jesus come and save his servant. No doubt Jesus was moved more by the plight of the servant than he was the centurion’s gift of a synagogue. He was going to go help the poor man. Instead the centurion says, no, just say the word. He didn’t find himself worthy to have this man come under his roof, at the same time he had every confidence that Jesus didn’t have to come to his house to save his servant, he could just say the word. Jesus praises this faith as being stronger than any he has encountered among his compatriots. When the friends return to the house the servant is well.
This too is amazing. Jesus shows here that he is God. All other healers and miracle workers actually had to be in the presence of the person they were trying to help. Jesus isn’t bound by the same restrictions. He can help anyone no matter where they are, he is God.

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