The Centurion's Faith (Luke 7:1-10)

The word "amazing" is used in so many different ways.  "Look at my slice of chocolate cake" one person says. The reply? "That is amazing". "I bought a new house", and again, the reply is "That is amazing". Perhaps someone rescued another person from danger, some will reply "That is amazing". Because we use the same word to describe a range of things, the word often really isn't that amazing. But this must not remove our attention from what is truly amazing. 

In Luke 7-8 we will see a number of encounters with Jesus. What becomes clear in this section is that when someone comes to Jesus in faith, they leave transformed. This reality is significant and it is something we need to be gripped by in our daily walk with the Lord.

In the passage under our consideration in this message, something unique happens. Jesus marvels in a positive way at the faith of a Roman soldier. When Jesus is amazed at something that ought to get our attention! Would Jesus be amazed at your faith? In the gospels there are only two occasions Jesus is said to be amazed. The first was when He saw the unbelief of the people in Nazareth (Mark 6:6). This was a negative amazement. The second is in our passage and that is His amazement of a gentile centurion in Capernaum (Luke 7:9), and this is a positive amazement. Since this is the case, the events in this passage ought to be considered very carefully.

A centurion was a Roman solider elevated to a position of authority. He had power and command over 100 lesser-ranked soldiers. Men in this position were known as men of great character and courage. This centurion is the first of three centurions in the Bible that had saving faith in Jesus Christ. We can refer to this centurion as the man that amazed Jesus.

The problem at the centre of this passage is that the centurion had a slave near to death. This news clearly was of deep concern for the centurion. As we walk through the passage the solution is seen in the power of Jesus Christ. This interesting encounter leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of the power and person of Jesus Christ and of what a life of God pleasing faith looks like. The faith of the centurion was simple. He knew who Jesus was, believed it to be true, and trusted Him. In this message we will see and examine two necessary components of saving faith: A humble view of self and a high view of the Saviour. If we desire to be a people who live a life of faith that pleases our Lord, this is what it looks like. It begins by understanding that we are in need of Jesus because He alone is the Sovereign Saviour of Sinners.

1.       A HUMBLE VIEW OF SELF     

The sick slave in the household of the centurion was “at the point of death” (7:2). With the news that Jesus was in town, he sent some elders of the Jews to Jesus to request healing (7:3). Once these men found Jesus, they pleaded the case for the centurion’s request. They said, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue” (7:4b-5). The testimony of these men is that the centurion is a worthy man. That is how others viewed him. From the perspective of his fellow man he had ample reasons to have a high view of himself. The story is told of a man who was so humble that his city council decided to honour him with a medallion for his humility. A week after the award ceremony, the award had to be withdrawn. Much to the embarrassment of the council, the man had proudly worn the medallion everywhere he went. This is not how the centurion viewed himself! He is the opposite.

In-fact, when he got word that Jesus was coming to his house, he sent out more messengers saying “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” (7:6). The centurion viewed himself with humility. This is the first feature of his faith. When we have an elevated view of self we blind ourselves to our need of the Lord’s grace and greatness. We will all do well do be reminded that in and of ourselves we are sinners and that we need God’s grace and help. We must not put confidence in ourselves as the basis for our acceptance in God’s sight. Apart from Him we can do nothing. So the first feature of the centurion’s amazing grace is that he had a humble view of himself.

2.         A HIGH VIEW OF THE SAVIOUR

After sending the message to tell Jesus not to come to his house, he goes to on say through the messengers,

Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with 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” (7:7-8).

This centurion had such a high view of Jesus that He was persuaded that Jesus need only say the word and his sick slave would be healed. What amazing trust and confidence he had in Jesus! He understood the authority and power of Jesus Christ to be great. He illustrates this by saying in essence: If I can give verbal orders to people and they do what I say because of the authority I have, how much more can you do this healing because of the authority you have.

The centurion’s high view of Jesus truly understood who Jesus is and what He can do. For this reason, all he wanted was for Jesus to say the word, and he knew all would be well. Do you have this kind of confidence in the word of Jesus Christ? We need to be reminded that the universe exists by means of the power of God’s word (Heb. 1:3; 2 Pet. 3:5). The worldwide flood in the days of Noah occurred by means of God’s word (2 Pet. 3:6). And the future final judgment on the universe and all unbelievers will happen by means of God’s word (2 Pet. 3:7). The centurion knew that Jesus can simply speak, and that powerful word would be enough to heal the slave. That same powerful word is enough to meet all our needs. The centurion understood the power of the Christ’s word.

This second component of faith is his high view of the Saviour. How high is your view of Jesus? One of our biggest problems is that we don’t have an exalted and elevated view of Jesus Christ. We can make Him a small Saviour. Of course He is not a puny Saviour – He is the powerful Saviour! We need to know that He is greater than anything else in this world. We can trust Him in all matters. What are you troubles? What are your fears? What are your concerns? Bring them to the Sovereign Saviour! He is able to help. Do you believe in the power of His word?

After this message was conveyed to Jesus, Luke tells us that Jesus “marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith’” (Luke 7:9). This response of Jesus opens up the door of anticipation of many outside of Israel that are going to have faith in Jesus Christ. The book of Acts shows how this begins to unfold, and history and current events show this to be true. One day, assembled before God’s throne will be people from every tribe, language, and nation worshipping the Lord.  

When these messengers returned back to the house, “they found the servant well” (7:10). It is amazing to think that Jesus didn’t even need to say the word. He simply healed the man by His sovereign will. This final statement confirms why we ought to have a high view of Jesus Christ. He is the sovereign Lord.

CONCLUSION

In bringing this message to a close, there are two lessons than can be drawn from this fascinating encounter. The purpose of these lessons is to give us an exalted view of Jesus Christ and to enjoy Him for who He is and what He does in our lives. I pray that we would be so gripped by His greatness that we would respond in faith the same way as the centurion.

The Extent of the Power of Jesus

Jesus is authoritative and powerful. How far can the power of Jesus extend? In this passage we learn that it extends far and wide. Though the centurion was a gentile and viewed himself as unworthy, Jesus was willing to go and work this miracle. The lesson for us is, that no matter who you are, if you come to Jesus in faith, His grace and power can touch your life.

The Encouragement of the Power of Jesus

The final lesson from this passage is that there is great encouragement to be found in the power of Jesus. Wherever we are, we can call upon the Lord. The centurion didn’t need the visible presence of Jesus in-order to experience the power of Christ. He called upon the Lord and He knew there was a comfort to be experienced. We can receive the same encouraged from the power of Christ today. Wherever you are, call upon the Lord and know the encouragement of His care.

Who is Jesus? As we walk through the following chapters there is much we will learn. But from this amazing encounter we learn that He is powerful and authoritative. He is worthy of our trust, and it doesn’t matter who we are or where we are, we can trust Him. We are to crown Him Lord of all.