What does faith look like? How can I know how to grab ahold of it and have more of it in my life. Jesus knows. Jesus gives me some great clues.
The Centurion figured it out. He knew about authority. He knew Jesus understood authority as well. The Centurion knew that Jesus had the authority and power to heal his servant. He had faith in the authority of Jesus.
When the Centurion said he knew that Jesus had the authority to heal the servant, Jesus was amazed.
Faith is understanding and acting on the authority of Jesus.
When he had concluded saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 A centurion’s servant, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, requesting him to come and save the life of his servant. 4 When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy for you to grant this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue.”
6 Jesus went with them, and when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, since I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I didn’t even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I too am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under my command. 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 Jesus heard this and was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant in good health. | Luke 7:1-10
In the good news books and the Book of Acts, Roman centurions are presented as quality men of character, and this one is a sterling example. The Jewish elders had little love for the Romans in general and Roman soldiers in particular, and yet the elders commended this officer to Jesus. He loved the Jewish people in Capernaum and even built them a synagogue. He loved his servant and did not want him to die. This centurion was not a Stoic who insulated himself from the pain of others. He had a heart of concern, even for his lowly servant boy who was dying from a paralyzing disease.
I am impressed not only with this man’s great love, but also his great humility. Imagine a Roman officer telling a poor Jewish rabbi that he was unworthy to have Him enter his house! The Romans were not known for displaying humility, especially before their Jewish subjects.
But the characteristic that most impressed Jesus was the man’s faith. Twice in the good news records we are told that Jesus marveled. Here in Capernaum, He marveled at the faith of a Gentile; and in Nazareth, He marveled at the unbelief of the Jews. The only other person Jesus commended for having “great faith” was a Gentile woman whose daughter He delivered from a demon. It is worth noting that in both of these instances, Jesus healed at a distance.
The centurion’s faith certainly was remarkable. After all, he was a Gentile whose background was pagan. He was a Roman soldier, trained to be self-sufficient, and we have no evidence that he had ever heard Jesus preach. Perhaps he heard about Jesus’ healing power from the nobleman whose son Jesus had healed, also at a distance. His soldiers may also have brought him reports of the miracles Jesus had performed, for the Romans kept close touch with the events in Jewish life.
The officer saw a parallel between the way he commanded his soldiers and the way Jesus commanded diseases. Both the centurion and Jesus were under authority, and because they were under authority, they had the right to exercise authority. All they had to do was say the word and things happened. What tremendous faith this man exhibited! No wonder Jesus marveled.
If this Roman, with very little spiritual instruction, had that kind of faith in God’s Word, how much greater our faith ought to be! We have an entire Bible to read and study, as well as nearly 2,000 years of church history to encourage us, and yet we are guilty of “no faith” or “little faith”. Our prayer ought to be, “Lord, increase our faith!”
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Lk 7:28–8:1). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 195). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.