A Great Faith
A Great Faith
You would like this man. He is one of the more noble persons we meet in the New Testament. He is brought to our
attention because of a crisis that had come to his home. He had a servant that had become like a member of the
family. This young man became desperately ill. While some thought of their servants as a piece of property, this
man thought of him as a son. This crisis prompted the man to take a bold step of faith that received a
commendation from our Lord.
Even Jesus marveled at the faith of the man. Since he was a Roman by birth, he had not been exposed to those
influences that are supposed to produce faith. He was an outsider to the privileges that belonged to Israel. Yet, in
spite of these disadvant¬ages, he came to be a man of strong faith. Jesus called it "great faith." It looked
particularly great when you compared it with the faith that He found in the nation of Israel.
In the eyes of Jesus faith is of supreme importance. It is important that you excel in faith. How would you measure
your faith today? Would you think of yourself as a person of "great faith," "moderate faith," or "little faith?" A close
study of this encounter between Jesus and the Centurion from Capernaum should help us determine the strength
of our faith.
I. GREAT FAITH PERCEIVES RIGHTLY.
When you compare the account of this incident in the Gospel of Luke with that of Matthew, there is a difference.
Matthew pictures this man approaching Jesus directly to make his appeal while Luke has the appeal coming
through the Jewish elders. The two accounts can be reconciled if we see Matthew's account as being abbreviated,
while Luke gives us the details. The request is still that of the Centurion even though it may be delivered by friends.
However, in both accounts the perception reflected in the appeal are the same. This perception is a mark of great
A. The perception of self is right.
The Jewish elders had one perception of the man, but he had another. They saw him as worthy, but he saw himself
as unworthy. When they came to Jesus with their appeal on his behalf, they said, "For he loves our nation, and has
built us a synagogue.'' Luke reports, "And when they came to Jesus, they begged him earnestly, saying that the
one for whom He should do this was worthy." They set forth the merits of the man as they saw them. They based
their evaluation naturally on the things they had seen him do. He had demonstrated an unusual devotion to the
nation of Israel for a Roman. Usually, the Jews received only hostility and disrespect from the Romans.
Furthermore, this man had generously assisted in the building of the synagogue in their community. This was the
very house of worship in which some of our Lord's most notable miracles had been performed.
The man had another perception of himself. Through his friends, he said to Jesus, "Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to
you." He knew things about himself that the Jewish officials did not know. It may well have been that he was mindful
that he was not a Hebrew, that he was outside of the covenant people. However, it probably goes deeper than this.
When he compared himself with the Jew¬ish leaders, he may have felt himself among equals. He did not suffer from
a low self image. But when he compared himself with Jesus, he felt himself unworthy of even having Jesus under his
This is an essential part of great faith. Great faith does not grow out of some exalted opinion of self, but out of a
humble opinion of self. Great faith is great because of the greatness of its object! While a number of us suffer from
low self esteem, this is rooted in an unfavorable comparison with others. This is not humility. Humility comes from an
awareness of our unworthiness before the Lord God, our rightful recognition that we have no claims on Him in
B. The perception of the Savior is right.
This is the thing that marks great faith. This man perceived the Lord Jesus as being a person of great worth. He
perceived the Lord Jesus as being a person of great power. He appealed, "But say the word, and my servant will
be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'go' and he
goes: and to another, 'come' and he comes; and to my servant, 'do this' and he does it." It was this statement that
stirred the heart of our Lord. The man perceived Jesus as being in the same relationship with God that he enjoyed
with the Roman government. As one under authority of the Roman government, he could exercise authority in the
appropriate realm. His word was promptly obeyed because of this authority. He perceived that Jesus had the
authority to just speak a word, and the deadly illness that threatened the life of his servant would obey. He
affirmed that the physical presence of Jesus
would not be necessary to accomplish the unusual miracle, a word would be sufficient. He perceived Jesus as
having all power in the spiritual and physical realm. This would indicate that he also perceived Jesus as being
One who would be willing to help his ser¬vant. He perceived that Jesus was compassionate and generous.
How do you perceive Jesus? Do you believe that He is able to speak a word concerning the crisis that faces you in
your life? Do you perceive that HE IS ONE who is concerned about the crisis in your life? Jesus marveled when he
found this kind of perception in a Gentile soldier.
II. GREAT FAITH INTERCEDES CONFIDENTLY.
Even though the man presented his petition through his friends, it was still marked by confidence. He did not come
through others because he lacked confidence in Jesus, but rather because he felt himself to be unworthy of a
A. The Confidence is based on the power of Jesus.
Already, we have looked at the petition that he presented. "But say the word, and my servant will be healed." He
knew that one word from Jesus would be all that it took. Because of this, he confidently presented his appeal. This
should give us a reason for soul searching. Why do we pray so little? Why do We face our crisis without earnest
prayer? Is it because we doubt the ability or inclination of Jesus to help us. Great faith will be interceding confidently.
B. The confidence is expressed in the bold petition.
Consider it for a moment! This young man was a hopeless case. Doubtlessly every human remedy had been
applied in vain. The Jewish elders who brought the request to Jesus would have readily admitted their inability to
help. What do you suppose the reaction of the Roman Caesar would have been if this Centurion had sent a similar
message to him? Even though the Caesars sometimes allowed the people to bow before them in worship, they
would have been incensed if someone had brought such a bold request to them. This was an expression of the
faith that he had in the Lord Jesus.
III. GREAT FAITH RECEIVES RICHLY.
It is not unusual for great faith to receive more than it sought. This happened to
this Roman centurion.
A. Great faith receives a rich approval.
The centurion never dared dream that Jesus would give him such a commendation. Our Lord approves faith. He
reserves a special word for those who respond to Him in faith. He honors those who honor Him. There is nothing
that you can do that will honor the Lord more than just to exercise faith in Him. The great faith chapter in the
Hebrew letter is an example of this.
B. Great faith receives a rich answer.
The man received more than he asked. He asked Jesus to demonstrate His authority by speaking the word of
healing concerning His servant. But as far as we can discern from the report, Jesus healed his servant without ever
speaking a word. By simply exercising the will to heal, he sent the man home to find his servant completely cured
from the deadly disease. God is generous with great faith.
Little faith receives little from the Lord. Our little faith limits that which the Lord would desire to do for us and
through us. But great faith allows the Lord to enrich us with all kinds of spiritual blessings. When you measure the
answer this man received to his appeal, you will surely have to agree that this was great faith!
However in fairness to the text, we must admit that the focus in the passage is not upon the reward of faith, but
rather upon the object of the faith. He overshadows the gifts that He gives. As your faith grows you become more
and more enamored with the Giver, and less and less with the gifts. The greatest blessing of all is to know Him and
to enjoy the confidence that comes to life from knowing Him.
How great is your faith? If you would reach out for greater faith, you must focus
your attention on the Lord. Remember that great faith begins with a right perception, and then makes a confident
intercession. You do not begin with a rich reception, but rather with a right perception. To have greater faith you
need a greater knowledge of Him. May God move us on to greater faith!