In this story Luke is describing yet another incident in which Jesus powerfully heals, but his emphasis this time is less on the healing and more on the faith of the man in question, the Centurion. The story says that Jesus was “amazed” at this man’s faith (7:9) - one of the very few places in the gospels where Jesus commends the way someone approaches him. It should make us stop and ask- how did this man approach Jesus, what was so remarkable about it, and what does it suggest about how we should approach Jesus too?
We’ll explore those questions this Sunday, but for now it is wonderful to note just one thing. When the Jewish leaders came to Jesus to commend the Centurion, they essentially said, “This man deserves for you to heal his servant because of what a good person he is” (7:5). Yet when the man himself comes to Jesus, he says, “I don’t deserve for you to heal my servant- but do it any way because you are generous, powerful, and good” (7:7). The gentile Roman soldier understands something about the ways of God that the very pious religious leaders do not. Our faith is not to be in ourselves and our own goodness and religiosity. Our faith is in someone else: Jesus the powerful Savior, who, by grace, gives us what we do not deserve over and over again. Faith in the grace of Jesus is what heals the servant, and in the end what saves us and the world.
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Luke 7: 1-10
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, 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.