#8 on the chronological list of healings Jesus performed.
Ok, this one is intimidating--not because of the story itself but because every great theologian has covered this story. What possible new revelation could I bring to the table? Ah shucks, now I have to repent. First of all, studying the word of God is not a competition sport, and second faith comes by _____ and ____ the Word of God. What’s that? I can’t hear you? Faith comes by ________ and ________ the word of God. Ok, look up for yourselves how Faith comes in Romans 10:17.
This story is almost overwhelming. I know I won’t cover everything because there’s just so much here. Both Matt and Luke recorded this one. For the first few entries we’re going to go with Matt’s record.
Before we even get into this story lets talk about the author/recorder of this healing. Matt was a redeemed man. Just before this great display of faith Matt was ordained as one of the 12 disciples*; but really Matt had been following Jesus for some time. . .about a year. Before meeting Jesus, Matt was a tax collector. In the eyes of his fellow countrymen, Matt’s occupation was not an honorable job. He went by the name Levi when he did the collecting. Three of the gospels tell of his conversion: Matt 9:9, Mark 2:14, and Luke 5:28. All 3 record his name as Levi, but I guess with his spiritual change came a name change. The name Matthew means gift of the Lord. That’s much better than being called a robber of money. That’s not what Levi means, but it was what tax collectors had a reputation of doing. It was at Matt/Levi’s house that Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and sinners (Luke 5:29-33 ~ great story.) Luke’s record of Levi’s/Matt’s conversion is my favorite. Luke says this of Matt in Luke 5:28 “and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.”
What does all that have to do with the Centurion’s faith? Not much, but it give us a better insight into the person who was selected to record this gospel. No one is off limits for God’s use. Did you read that right? No one is off limits for God’s use. You can’t screw up your life too much to make yourself un-usable for God. Let’s read Matt’s account:
The Faith of the Centurion
5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6"Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."
7 Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."
8 The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 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."
10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.
Let’s get at the jugular of this story: the displayed faith. The first part of verse 10 says: “When Jesus heard this, he was astonished…” Verse 10 finishes with Jesus saying: “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Think about that. Jesus, God in the flesh, the same God that can’t lie, starts out by saying “I tell you the truth.” If Jesus says “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” then we best believe that in his 32 years to this point He had not seen such great faith as what the Centurion was displaying. What is amazing is that this Centurion was not a Jew. He probably did not grow up hearing about Father Abraham or Moses or Joshua. How did this guy catch on to what Faith was?
I need to back up. I just said in the last paragraph that in his 32 years Jesus had not seen such great faith in Israel. The first chapter of John** tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh, referring to Jesus. So Jesus would have seen all the acts/displays of faith in the land of Israel from the beginning of time all the way up to this point. Could Jesus be saying that from the beginning of time all the way to this point He had not seen such great faith displayed in the land of Israel? I would go into detail about all of the acts of faith listed out in the Old Testament and how this guy’s faith upstaged them all but that would be a book--a long book. Maybe someday when I convert this study over into a book I will list them, but on the short list think about Elijah and his actions of faith, Joshua and the children of Israel taking the land, or Little Man David killing the giant. All of those other things in the O.T. took some serious faith, but Jesus said this Centurion upstaged them all. WOW! Now I’m astonished at this guy’s faith. How would you like Jesus to say that about your faith display? That’s a pretty good point to leave on; short but strong. The next entry we’ll get into what exactly that faith action was.
Stay Blessed Y’all, It’s Your Choice.
* Luke 6:12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
** John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it. John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.