Encounters with Jesus: A Centurion’s Faith

Meeting Jesus is a life-changing experience.  Many of the people who sought Jesus out came to him with pressing needs, sometimes physical, sometimes spiritual, often a combination of the two. Faith was the essential quality that allowed Jesus to heal them and he was quick to acknowledge it.

  • Jesus said to the woman who bathed his feet in tears and poured perfume over them, “Your sins are forgiven… your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:48, 50
  • He said to the woman with a bleeding problem, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.”  Luke 8:48
  • He said to the Samaritan who returned to thank him for releasing him from leprosy, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  Luke 17:19
  • He said to the blind man begging beside the road to Jericho, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”  Luke 18:42

One day in Capernaum some Jewish elders approached Jesus on behalf of a Roman centurion whose servant was dying.  The Romans generally receive bad publicity in the gospels, and the Jews were eagerly waiting for their Messiah to come and deliver them from Roman rule.  It seems this man was an exception: he loved the Jewish nation; he’d built their synagogue for them and was highly regarded.  (Read the full story in Luke 7:1-9) We’re not surprised that Jesus set off with the elders to this Centurion’s house.

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. 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.”  (vss. 6b-8)

How would Jesus respond?

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.  (vss. 9, 10)

It’s not recorded that Jesus even met this man!  Yet he’s noted in the gospels and held up to us as an example of great faith, and he joins our list of people whose needs Jesus met in response to their faith.  God is not to be reached through wisdom, science or our senses (although all these may be involved in our relationship with him.)  Neither are issues of race, gender or age barriers to finding him.  He has deliberately made faith the pathway to himself.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Hebrews 11:6

Do you have a need that is causing you concern?  Bring it to Jesus, by faith.

PRAYER: Father, we thank you that no problem is too big for you to handle, or too small for your loving concern.  Thank you that a small child may claim your attention, and brilliant minds are captivated by your majesty and creativity.  Thank you for your grace that draws us to yourself, and for faith to respond to your love.  Guide us by faith through these unusual times.  Help us to be ministers of your grace to those we meet today.  Amen

(Written by Alan Akers)

SONG:  My Faith Looks Up to Thee by Bill & Gloria Gaither https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HofI50AD55Y