This week I was struck by the story of the centurion in Luke 7:1-10. The Lord used the centurion's story to add a new facet to my understanding of faith.
While we are not given the name of the centurion, we are given a very distinct and positive picture of this man: He is not a Jew. He is a Roman soldier, a symbol of Roman occupation within the Jewish homeland. But despite his position as a centurion, he has formed relationships with the Jews (vs. 5) even to the extent that he has built them a synagogue. He is a man who has authority over others (vs. 8), and yet he values those under his authority.
This is a man of character. A man, who upon finding his servant ill, has a desire to see him restored to health. This centurion has heard of Jesus. He knows Jesus has healed others of varying diseases and ailments, so he sends Jewish elders to ask Jesus to come and heal his servant.
After hearing the elders plead with Him on behalf of the centurion, Jesus accompanies the elders to the centurion's house. As Jesus and the elders approach the house, the centurion sends friends out to say these words to Jesus, "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with servants 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."
These are powerful and humble words. Words filled with an understanding of authority. Jesus is amazed by these words. He tells all those following Him that He has not found faith this great in all of Israel. The friends, who had been sent to talk with Jesus, then return to the centurion's house. Upon returning, they find the servant has been healed.
Jesus said the centurion had great faith. What made his faith great? He believed that Jesus could heal his servant, but there was a deeper level to his faith than just believing Jesus could heal. This centurion recognized Jesus' authority. He knew Jesus needed only to say "Go" and the illness would go from his servant's body. Not only that, he recognized that Jesus did not need to be in the servant's presence in order to heal him. He knew that if Jesus said the word it would be done. Period. This shows that he understood that Jesus' authority was unlike any other authority.
The centurion realized Jesus was the Answer to his servant's need, but he did not feel entitled to that Answer. He sought Jesus with humble recognition of His authority.
Part II will soon follow.....