Summary: what it takes to have amazing faith
June 17, 2001 Luke 7:1-10
1 When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, 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. (NIV)
I remember when I was growing up, I would always open up the fridge and look for something to eat. I would stand there and just stare into the fridge, and wait to see if anything appealed to me. I think my mom had an alarm on the door - some light or sound that only she could hear. It wouldn’t matter if I had the fridge open for a second or a minute, she would always manage to yell out, “what are you looking for?”, before I closed the door. And I always answered, “Something to eat.” So she would say, “hurry up and find something!” She didn’t want me wasting electricity.
People are doing the same thing today. They are searching for something to eat - spiritually. They want the satisfaction of knowing that they are doing the right thing - that they are loved by God. What they really want, is God’s approval. God’s approval is exactly what the centurion, of all people, got. Jesus said in today’s text, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." That’s quite a statement - something that all of us would like Jesus to say of us. Today we are going to look at the centurion’s faith, and see what made it so “great” in Jesus’ eyes. In order to do so, we will consider the theme -
Amazing Faith! Where is it Found?
I. In an unselfish attitude
First of all, we want to look at why this centurion wanted Jesus’ help in the first place. Why did the centurion send for Jesus? Luke says, a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion wasn’t asking for more money or fame. He just wanted Jesus to heal his servant. Even the elders of the Jews said, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." What does this tell us about the centurion? He had an amazing faith. How do we know? He was a very unselfish person. He wanted his servant to be healed. He wanted the Jews to have a nice place to worship. How can you have a God pleasing faith like the centurion? Be generous and unselfish.
You see, there is a direct correlation between the way you act and what kind of faith you have. God tells us to do very unselfish things - love your neighbor as yourself. Give Him your firstfruits. If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If you didn’t have any faith, what would you say to such requests? “I’m not giving God my firstfruits! Then I won’t have enough for myself! If I have to give someone my cloak, then he’ll just take advantage of me.” God asks us to do these unselfish things to build our faith. When we don’t do them, we aren’t exercising our faith, and we lose our trust in God. I would compare it to practicing an instrument. Somebody can tell you how to play the guitar or the keyboard. You can learn all of the notes in your head. But you still need to get physical practice to get better at it. Faith works the same way. When we put our faith into practice - we come to a firmer conviction that God is what He says He is. God asks us to do that with our possessions and our abilities - use them to help others. When you use your time and possessions for others - you are taking a chance. You could lose money and time. But how often does it happen that when we are more generous, God provides us with more? When you trust God and do the things he asks you to do, your faith becomes more than a head knowledge - it becomes a knowledge of experience. It gives us an amazing faith.