By Marilynn Chadwick
“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
Jesus was amazed at the man’s faith. What was it about this Roman army officer – an outsider – that inspired Jesus to marvel at his faith?
This centurion happens to be one of my favorite characters in the New Testament. As I reflect on 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 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.”
“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 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, the centurion discerned that Jesus operated with supernatural authority. 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.
That’s the kind of faith that amazes our Lord. To pray – and walk away. Not in defeat, but in absolute confidence. To trust in Jesus’ authority to 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 are 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.
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