A Centurion's Amazing Faith | Matthew 8

Welcome to Real Life. Faith. Over and over again in the Word of God, we see the pivotal role of faith. Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.[1] 

It seems natural that God’s people would possess the greatest amount of this precious commodity. Yet, that’s not always the case. On an ordinary day during Jesus’ earthly ministry, he is approached by a centurion. The man’s definitely not Jewish. He is a Roman military officer with 100 soldiers in his charge. Though an outsider, he seeks Jesus’ help on behalf of a paralyzed servant who is suffering terribly. The centurion’s request is both humble and bold. It takes humility to admit you need help. It takes boldness to ask. Though he’s tough enough to be a military officer, he’s tender enough to care about someone in pain. His concern moves him to venture beyond his sphere of influence to seek an impossible cure.

Jesus is ready and willing to accompany the centurion. But surprisingly, the man stops him. “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

This centurion represents the hated Roman regime that conquered and is oppressing Israel. He's a gentile, a pagan. A Jew could be rendered “unclean” just by entering his home. The man recognizes that he is clearly unworthy of Jesus’ time and attention. Moreover, the centurion is a leader who understands authority. He only has to say a word to send soldiers scrambling to fulfill his will. His response reveals his belief that Jesus holds a position of supernatural authority and power.

In the entire nation of Israel, Jesus has not found anyone who possesses such faith. God’s own people should have recognized God’s own presence, power and authority manifest in Christ. They had the testimony of the patriarchs and the prophets. They owned the history of God’s supernatural intervention in the affairs of men. Still, the majority of God’s people did not recognize God when he put on flesh and walked among them. Somehow this pagan could see what God’s people could not. Jesus is astonished by his faith!

...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. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The declaration is sobering, especially for those raised in the church. Our heritage does not save us. Salvation is gift each one must receive by faith in Christ.

In the end, Jesus rewards the centurion’s faith. “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” The servant is healed that very hour.

Jesus' final words raise more questions than answers. Lord, are my prayers answered based on the amount of my faith or on your authority? It is the age-old debate between God’s sovereignty and man’s will. Though the story does not give a definitive answer, it does reveal that my faith can bless and even amaze my Lord. It also reveals that faith does influence how God chooses to answer prayer. Consider these additional examples:

  • A woman subject to bleeding for twelve years touched Jesus’ cloak. Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. (Matt. 9:20-22)
  • The blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?
    Yes, Lord,” they replied.
    Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. (Matt. 9:28-30) 
Lord, you know that I cannot create enough faith within myself to amaze you. Even faith is a gift from your hand. Please, increase mine. May I - like the centurion - be absolutely convinced of your power and authority to do the impossible.

Taking it further…

  • Need faith? Some faith-growing activities include reading God’s Word and hearing it preached (Romans 10:17), diligently seeking God (Jeremiah 29:13), and spending time with other believers (Romans 1:12).


[1] Hebrews  11:6
Image of Jesus with Centurion is from the film Jesus of Nazareth.

Comments

  1. I used your prayer this morning.

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  2. Good morning my dear friend,

    Jeremiah 29:1-11 are some of my favourite verses and Hebrews 11 touches my heart. I can honestly say that I don't think we know if we have faith unless it is tested. There is something about struggle, tribulation, hard times that will make you stand up and search through the Word of God, if you are a Christian, and find a promise that you learn, and it seeps into your heart, and it no longer is a head thing, but a belief, and you know, because you know, if you know what I mean.

    I have been there so many times. I have seen mountains where I thought, No Way! and yet God in his infinite love for me and his faithfulness to his promises has brought me through. Living in faith and trusting God's word, as you believe that He will do what he says He will do, is not easy but if you hold on, your faith will grow, and you will know from your own experience.

    Another thing I have learned is that faith doesn't stand still. Faith grows and as you mature, the tests become more difficult, but you as a servant of God began to find the rest that Hebrews 4 talks about, and you learn to rest in God.

    Love you Peggi, and believe when I say, I enjoy your articles so much. They mean a lot to me. You have grown tremendously through writing, and you have found yourself. I am happy for you and quite honored to be a friend.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

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  3. Oh, Patricia. I treasure your beautiful words. Thank you for the encouragement that they bring.

    Your first paragraph is perfectly said. I plan to quote it! And the testimony of your second paragraph is the perfect example of paragraph one.

    Though separated by thousands of miles, I hope that we may one day (even if it is not until heaven) sit across the table from one another with a good cup of coffee and share our stories of God's amazing love.

    Love you friend, Peggi

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