Lord Jesus, as I read of the miracles you performed in Scripture, give me great vision for what you can do in and through my life today.
Read LUKE 7:1-10
The Faith of the Centurion
7 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
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‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.’1
Until now, Jesus has dealt exclusively with the Jews, but here he begins to include non-Jews, a turning point in Luke’s gospel. There are many subtle social, political, and cultural nuances here, with the main characters being the centurion, the Jewish elders, and the centurion’s servant. That a gentile of great authority seeks help from a Jew is surprising, especially when they never actually meet. Even though, in Luke’s version, Jesus never comes near the servant or meets the centurion, the servant is healed. This story emphasizes one of Luke’s favorite themes: the gospel that Jesus declares is not for the Jews only but for the whole world, prefiguring the coming global harvest which Acts depicts.
Centurions were in many ways the glue that held ancient Roman culture together. They commanded a cohort of legionnaires, usually closer to 80 than 100, and were well respected throughout society. They would be used to sending messengers to accomplish their wishes. This centurion has clearly heard of Jesus’ healing power, has good relationships with the local Jews, and is aware that he does not need to be present for his orders to be carried out.
Jesus is ‘amazed’ at this man’s faith (v 9) and he directly contrasts his faith with that of the Jews. This functions as a subtle rebuke of the Jews and indeed of Luke’s Christian readers. Jesus is astonished that a gentile, not brought up to know the loving God of Israel, could do this. Do we recognize the authority of Jesus to bring good news to those far away, to free slaves, even to conquer death? Luke calls us to imitate the centurion’s faith.
How is your faith today? Can you say with the centurion, ‘Say the word’ (v 7)? What limiting beliefs can you confess? Jesus, please expand our understanding of your authority.
I pray, Lord Jesus, for the nations, that as your power is displayed in indisputable and undeniable ways, many will come to you in faith.