Encounter with jesus - A marvelous Faith
Encounter with Jesus: A Marvelous Faith (Luke 7:2-10)
What impresses the Lord Jesus? In the Gospel record He is unimpressed by everything that impresses us. Position, power, wealth, talent, and human achievement impressed Him not at all. The only thing that impressed Him was the presence or absence of faith. On two occasions we are told that Jesus marveled with surprise. He marveled at the absence of faith where we would have expected it to be present (Mark 6:6). Yet in the unlikely person of a pagan military soldier He marveled at the presence of faith where we would expect it to be absent (Luke 7:9).
Would you like to impress the Lord Jesus to the point of amazement? You can impress Him only by your faith in His word and power. Even an unlikely outsider can impress Jesus with a humble faith in His word and power.
Jesus Marvels at the Presence of Faith in an Unlikely Person
Some people seem more likely to have faith than others. Those who grow up as "insiders," church people from church families, would seem to be more likely to have faith. Yet sometimes "outsiders" demonstrate more surprising faith. The centurion in this story is an "outsider."
He was an outsider religiously, racially, and politically. Religiously, he was a Gentile, with no deep background in the acts and words of God. Racially, he was non-Jewish, a Roman or a Greek. Politically, he was a soldier working for Herod Antipas, a hated puppet ruler over the Jews. In every sense this man was an unlikely outsider at the point of faith. Yet he demonstrates a quality of faith that surprised Jesus Himself.
Do you feel like an outsider concerning religion? You can nevertheless have a faith that amazes the Lord Jesus.
Jesus Marvels at the Nature of Faith in an Unlikely Person
What is the nature of faith that gives Jesus a pleasant surprise? There are some identifying marks of the faith that amaze Jesus and win His approval.
Such faith grows in a soft and loving heart. Hard, cynical people seldom manifest faith. This centurion demonstrated the heart of faith in unlikely objects of love. He loved his slave. This was rare. His slave was honored, revered, held dear and precious. Further, he loved his natural enemies, the Jews. He loved them to the point that he built a synagogue out of his own resources. This was an incredible act for a Gentile. Faith grows in softened hearts. Beware of hardness towards people. It kills faith.
Such faith demonstrates humility. This military officer did not consider himself worthy to approach Jesus. He sent a delegation of seven to ten Jewish elders on his behalf. He dropped all personal claim on Jesus as an officer and a Jewish benefactor. Further, he stopped Jesus from coming into his home. He shows a moving humility. The Lord Jesus responds to the humble spirit that makes no claims but simply trusts.
Such faith gives spiritual insight. This soldier understood what it meant to be under authority and in authority (v. 8). As the centurion reflected on his own limited human authority, he formed an opinion about Jesus' divine authority. He confessed that Jesus had at His command incredible, invisible spiritual authority. All that Jesus had to do was say the word and his servant would be healed. He showed insight into the spiritual authority and the power of Jesus' word. Would you like to impress Jesus? Then demonstrate your trust in His authority and His word alone.
Jesus Responds to Faith in an Unlikely Person
Jesus marvels at faith alone (v. 9). Others said that this man was worthy (v. 4). This man said of himself that he was not worthy (v. 6). The only estimate that counts is that of Jesus. He approved the man because of his faith. Whereas the Jews commended his love and his gifts, Jesus commended his faith. Our Lord looks for one thing, simple trust in His authority and His power. Only faith impresses the Lord Jesus.
Jesus responds to faith alone. "The men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well" (v. 10). Jesus did even more than the centurion expected. The centurion expected that Jesus must speak a word. Evidently Jesus healed the slave at a distance by the unspoken power of Jesus' will to make whole. Jesus did more than simply cure the threatening disease. Luke uses a word which means that the man became completely well in every way.
This story has a special meaning to all of us who have never seen the Lord Jesus in the flesh. The centurion never saw Jesus. At a distance he made an appeal. At a distance Jesus made his servant whole. We too never see the Lord Jesus physically. We too must trust the word and authority of One about Whom we have heard but Whom we have not yet seen. "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).