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A Centurion’s Servant Healed by Great Faith

Only two times in all four Gospels did Jesus ever compliment people on their faith, and both times it was Gentiles (Non-Jews) who received His praise. The first is in Matthew 15:28 when a Canaanite woman came to Jesus with a daughter afflicted by a demon. Her words to Jesus expressed persevering faith. The second person recorded is found in Luke 7, the story of a Roman centurion whose servant was sick:

1When He had completed all His discourse in the hearing of the people, He went to Capernaum. 2And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” 6Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8“For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health (Luke 7:1-10).

This servant endeared himself to his master so much that, when the centurion saw his servant slipping away into death, he spent his relational capital with the Jewish elders by asking them if they would mediate with Jesus to heal his servant. When the centurion heard that the Lord was on His way to his house, he sent another person to stop Christ before the Lord came to the house. His actions expressed his faith.

Faith Expressed by Action: Christ was amazed at the centurion’s faith in taking a risk by asking Jesus just to speak the word of healing. The centurion recognized that Jesus has the authority on earth to heal sicknesses without needing to come into his house to pray. He knew that for a Jew to enter the home of a Gentile would make him ceremonially unclean, so the centurion stepped out in faith and asked Jesus to heal his servant from a distance. Yes, it was risky for the centurion to stop Jesus on the way, but this tells us something of the faith that pleases the Lord. The centurion was considerate of Jewish rules of cleanliness. He expressed his confidence in the healing power of Christ without the Lord coming under his roof to lay hands on his servant. Faith expressed by action is God-pleasing. Let me give you an example of this kind of faith with a story from Africa:

It hadn’t rained in a long time, and things were getting desperate. The ministers decided to call a prayer meeting. They said, "Look, we want the whole town to come to the prayer meeting and bring their religious symbols." So, the whole town showed up for the prayer meeting, and people brought crosses and Bibles, the Catholics brought their rosaries, and they all cried out to God. They finished the prayer meeting with no rain in sight. They all went home. The next day, though, came a little boy in the town square where they had the meeting. He began praying alone. "Oh, God, we need rain." God, show your power, and give us rain." As he was praying, rumbling occurred, and it began pouring with rain. What was it about this little boy? He prayed the same kind of prayers that all the people said the day before, but the day the young boy came, when the clouds got dark, he lifted his symbol that he brought: an umbrella. He expected it to rain. When the weatherman tells you on the news that it will rain the next day, we believe his word, and most of us take our umbrellas. Why is it that when it comes to God, who is never wrong, we hesitate to believe His Word and act on it? Keith Thomas [1]

Taken from the study in the Gospel of Luke, Study 14. The Faith of the Centurion. Found in the All Studies box on the Home Page.

[1] Tony Evans, Tony Evans Book of Illustrations, Printed by Moody Publishers, 2009, Page 98.


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