Summary: It may be hard to find a place to put our faith in this modern world, but Jesus encountered a man who had amazing faith and we can learn from him.

I think we can all feel that right now our culture is really struggling to find faith. We talk about it in different ways. We talk about the need to restore family values. We talk about the need for spirituality. We may not talk about it, but I think we feel a need for a sense of purpose in life, a purpose strong enough to keep us on track while we are bombarded with demands to buy this, do this, believe this, support this. How can we find a direction for our lives that means something? How can we protect that direction from getting swallowed up by all the demands that press on us every day? Am I all alone in this chaotic world, or is there someone that I can turn to, someone who will really do something, really make a difference?

Our text for this morning describes someone who had a faith that amazed even Jesus. Let’s see what we can learn from him. Our text is Luke 7:1-10. It’s printed for you in your bulletin so that you can have it open in front of you.

“After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also 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 slave, ‘Do this,' and the slave does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.”

Did you hear that this guy amazed Jesus? That’s what the text says. That’s quite an accomplishment.

What was so special about the faith of this Centurion? Why was Jesus amazed?

Well, people in the twentieth century might not recognize it, but any first century person would have been amazed at how this man cut across cultural barriers.

He cared about a slave! That was unusual! It was pretty common that if a slave got too sick to work he would just be thrown out on the street to die. But here was an important man, a centurion, in charge of up to 100 men in the Roman army. And he cared about a slave.

That sounds to me like God was breaking into this man’s life and obeying God was more important to him than social boundaries.

And when he needed help he went to the local Jewish elders. Roman soldiers and Jews normally despised each other. But this man paid no attention to such social boundaries. That was impressive. That was amazing.

As any one of us sets out on our pilgrimage of faith it won’t be long before we will run into choices. If we are going to follow where Jesus leads us, it will mean mixing with people that we may feel are socially beneath us, people that we feel our enemies of our social group, people that irritate us, people that are different from us. And I’ll bet there are an awful lot of people who choose to give up the pilgrimage of seeking God rather than cross those social barriers. But this man didn’t.

Another amazing thing about this man was that he had personally built a synagogue for the village. He didn’t cut the stones, but he paid for it himself.

And this encounter happened while Jesus was in Capernaum. It doesn’t tell us which village had the synagogue that this man built, but it might be the Capernaum synagogue and archeologists have excavated the foundations of the Capernaum synagogue and you can go there and stand where it once stood and guess where Jesus would have stood when he taught there and stand in the same place. I’ve been there and I’ve done just that and it was one of the biggest thrills of my life, to stand where Jesus probably stood.

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