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” (Luke 7:9 NIV).
Amazed! Jesus was amazed at the man’s faith. I’ve never seen such “great faith,” He remarked to the crowd of onlookers. What was it about this man, a Roman army officer and an outsider, that inspired Jesus to marvel at his faith? This centurion happens to be one of my favorite characters in the entire New Testament. As I reflect on Luke’s version of the story, three things stand out:
First, the centurion was compassionate. Servants in that day were regarded as personal property and often mistreated. Yet the centurion truly cared for his worker as a human being. The servant was “highly valued” by his master.
Second, he was humble. The centurion had such high regard for Jesus that he didn’t count himself “worthy” of His presence. He even sent some Jewish elders to speak to Jesus on his behalf. His friends “pleaded earnestly” for Jesus to come to this man who “loves our nation.” Notice the humility reflected in these verses:
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. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:6,7).
Third, he understood authority. Centurions, though powerful in rank, were often from common stock. They were usually promoted from within ranks because of great bravery or military skill. The centurion was a fighting man who understood chain of command. He got the concept of authority. “I myself am a man under authority, with 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” (Luke 7:8).
Somehow, he discerned that Jesus operated with supernatural authority. I can imagine him saying, “You don’t even need to come to my house, Jesus. All you need to do is say the word and my servant will be healed.”
Jesus stopped in His tracks. None of His followers in Israel had quite grasped the full extent of His heavenly authority…until now. Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s insight, calling it “great faith.” The friends who brought his message to Jesus returned to the house and found the servant healed.
Now THAT is real faith. The kind of faith that amazes our Lord. To pray…then walk away. Not in defeat but in absolute confidence in Jesus’s authority to show up and heal…even from a distance.
Lord, I don’t even know the centurion’s name. Yet his compassion and humility inspire me. Help me grasp Your authority, confident that all of heaven and earth is under Your control. Just one Word from You can change any situation. I pray to have the kind of faith that amazes You and gives birth to bold and daring prayers for a broken world so desperate for Your healing touch. -Amen.