Summary: As we continue our series on the places where Jesus said, “I tell you the truth” we find ourselves in Matt. 8 where Jesus was actually astonished over someone’s level of faith.
THE CENTURION’S FAITH
As we continue our series on the places where Jesus said, “I tell you the truth” we find ourselves in Matt. 8 where Jesus was actually astonished over someone’s level of faith.
1) What do we see in the Centurion that showed his faith (5-9)?
• He looked to Jesus. The Centurion was concerned about his servant. In Luke’s version of this event, it says that the servant was about to die. This shows that it was a grave situation. Luke’s version also states that this servant was highly valued by the Centurion. Masters didn’t care about their servants like that-they considered them disposable property when they got sick. But the Centurion was different-he cared.
The Centurion’s journey to Jesus was preceded by a reason; something that prompted him to go to Jesus. And in his great concern he sought Jesus to meet his need. He could’ve gone after others in the land-magicians, soothsayers, healers but instead he looked to Jesus. He had heard about Jesus’ healing ability and because of his faith he knew Jesus was the one that could make his servant well.
What about us? When we have a concern or are in a desperate situation are we turning to Jesus? When trouble or sickness comes to us or someone we care about is prayer our initial response? There are many things or people we could turn to for help but first and foremost we need to look to Jesus. The Centurion had a problem and in faith he turned to Jesus.
• He had humility. In Luke’s version it has the Centurion sending others to ask Jesus for help. Both are true, it’s just that Luke gives the fuller version of events while Matthew condensed it to highlight the main exchange-between Jesus and the Centurion. Regardless of the variations the point remains-the Centurion humbled himself to ask Jesus for help.
A Centurion is an officer in the Roman army who was in charge of a company of 100 men. To have that position meant you were smart, powerful and respected. It would be easy to find yourself to be a proud individual. Typically men, especially men who are in positions of authority, have a hard time asking for help. It can be construed as a weakness. So, for this Centurion to go to Jesus, a foreigner no less, and ask for help was a big thing.
And notice that the Centurion addressed Jesus as Lord. He wouldn’t have used this term unless he saw Jesus as the higher authority. In his humility he was able to acknowledge that the one who had the true power and authority was not himself-but Jesus.
And the Centurion’s humility is seen in saying to Jesus, “I don’t deserve to have you come to my house”. In that day a Jew defiled himself if he went to the house of a gentile but I think he said this because he recognized Jesus’ holiness vs. his own unholiness.
In Luke’s version, the Centurion said, I do not consider myself worthy. We need to understand that we are unworthy; undeserving of Christ and salvation through him. Pride will keep us from recognizing our need for Jesus. Pride will not allow us to come to him; we will think we can do it ourselves. Pride will not allow me to think there’s a power greater than myself. In order to have faith, we need to be humble.
• He believed in the power of Jesus. “But just say the word and my servant will be healed”. In Luke’s version the people that went to Jesus on behalf of the Centurion were Jewish elders. They spoke highly of the Centurion, saying that he loved the nation of Israel and even built their synagogue. So it seems likely that the Centurion was a believer in Israel’s God even though he was a gentile. This belief would serve as the basis for him trusting in Jesus.
The Centurion had a remarkable level of trust in Jesus’ ability and power. Jesus was willing to go with him and heal the servant on site. It would’ve been easier for the Centurion to not say anything and let Jesus do what he had already agreed to. It would’ve provided more security to have Jesus be a physical presence and heal his servant on site. But the Centurion wanted Jesus to know he didn’t need him to do that.
“Just say the word”. The Centurion understood the power of the spoken word. He, being in the army, knew the power of a command. He had followed them when they were given to him and his soldiers followed his. He knew what is was like to be subject to authority and so, in recognizing Jesus as the supreme authority, he had faith, confidence and trust that if Jesus said it, it would be done.