The Great Sayings in the Gospels
“Such Great Faith…”
5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. KJV
If you are familiar with the gospels you know that Luke is the only other of the four gospel writers that included this account. You also know that Luke told the story a little differently. In Luke’s version, the centurion himself does not come to Christ but sends emissaries, first a group of the Jewish leaders and then some of his friends. Let us read that account.
1 Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum.
2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.
3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant.
4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:
7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. KJV
This reveals to us what seems like a peculiarity of that day. There was almost no difference in the minds of these writers whether a person does something in person or does it through messengers. It is all considered as if he had personally done the thing.
Introducing the Centurion:
– He was obviously a Roman soldier, though that does not necessarily mean that he was a Roman himself. He may have been from any of the nations that Rome had conquered.
– He was obviously a wealthy man for he had made some sizable charitable contributions at Capernaum which we will see in a minute.
– There was a relationship of affection between the centurion and his servant. This means at last two things: (1) the servant was a faithful man who served his master well, and (2) the centurion himself was a man who appreciated and had affection for people who were of a lower station in life than himself. This tells us that he was a very different sort of man than we would expect to find in his position in life.
– He was a religious man who had a great interest in the Jewish religion.
Luke 7:5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. KJV
Matthew Henry – …”he was well‑affected to the people of the Jews: He loveth our nation (which few of the Gentile did). Probably he had read the Old Testament, whence it was easy to advance to a very high esteem of the Jewish nation, as favoured by Heaven above all people.” AND – “…he was well‑affected to their worship: He built them a new synagogue at Capernaum, finding that what they had was either gone to decay or not large enough to contain the people, and that the inhabitants were not of ability to build one for themselves. Hereby he testified his veneration for the God of Israel, his belief of his being the one only living and true God, and his desire, like that of Darius, to have an interest in the prayers of God’s Israel, Ezra 6:10. This centurion built a synagogue at his own proper costs and charges, and probably employed his soldiers that were in garrison there in the building, to keep them from idleness.”
– Still, we do not expect to necessarily find him having Jesus sought out to make a personal appeal for Him to heal the servant. One would almost have expected him to send a garrison of soldiers to firmly request that He come to the place where the servant was to heal him. But this man is very polite and very attentive to proper decorum and does not at all behave as the resident authority of the conquering power, nor as a law enforcement office for the Caesar.
– He was a man of considerable humility for any person of any time, much less a soldier of rank. Luke’s account that he approached Christ through emissaries seems the most reasonable to me. I have a question that a man who thought himself unworthy for Jesus to come into his house would approach Jesus in person on the street. I do not know if we encounter a single other individual in the gospels who was so humble that he would decline for Jesus to enter his house.
Matthew Henry suggested that his knowledge of the Jewish people and their aversion to associating with uncircumcised people may have added to his hesitance.
– We know that he had heard of Jesus and His power to heal. We also know, as we will see later, that he considered Jesus to be a person of great authority over spiritual matters. He believed in Him with confidence even though he had never met Him in person. We also know that we are yet in the very early ministry of Jesus and there is not as much evidence of His healing power as there will ultimately be. This man has believed with considerable less evidence before him than the Jews ultimately had at the end of Jesus’ ministry.
– We know that he was well-respected by the Jewish leaders of Capernaum and we know that the Jews as a group tended to greatly resent the authority of Rome over their people. This means that the centurion had gone to great lengths to show himself fair, honorable, and respectful to the Jewish people of that city.
– We suspect that he was a wealthy man, given the fact that he had impressed the Jews with his gifts of charity and his work on their synagogue. This would not have been unusual for soldiers, on occasion, would capture great wealth in war and were sometimes free to keep most of it for themselves as an offset to their small wages. A centurion would have used part of the captured booty to generously reward his men and kept a sizable portion for himself.
Lessons learned from the Centurion: Christ is everything. I am nothing. All that I truly need is to be found in Him. Therefore, I must humbly seek Him. This is the essence of Great Faith.
Christ is Everything
The confidence that the centurion had in Christ, he had from before he sent messengers to him. He believed that Jesus, with a word and from a distance, could heal his servant with a word, without ever having seen him or touched him.
This means that he believed that Jesus knew who the centurion was, who his servant was, where the house was located, what was truly wrong with the servant, and what it would take to heal him. He further believed that Jesus had the authority and power to order such a healing to this specific man at this specific location.
I noticed as I thought on this text that the centurion did not request of Jesus that He pray to God for healing for the servant but that He would heal him, Himself.
What the centurion believed, if one develops it out, was that Jesus was Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent, that He knew all things, was present everywhere, and had all power. The only logical conclusion to such a belief is that Jesus was Himself Deity. No man, no prophet, no priest, had ever held Divine power in such a way that a person could be completely confident that with a word he could heal a man he did not know in a location he did not know of a disease that he had not observed, and do so with merely a word of command.
The centurion expressed his confidence, his faith, in Jesus Christ with terms that he fully understood as a military man.
Luke 7:8 For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. KJV
His express belief was that Jesus had the same authority over the elements of the universe that this centurion did over those under his command. “Whatever I tell them, they do,” he said, obviously meaning that he also thought that the forces of nature would obey whatever Jesus commanded them to do.
I am nothing.
Question: have you ever met another human being whom you assumed to be of such honor that you would feel unworthy for them to come into your house? (I am not talking about feeling nervous that your house was not clean!).
No one that I know of in scripture ever felt such a compulsion toward Jesus. Pharisees and even some of the publicans often invited Him to eat with them. While they, no doubt, felt honored that He would accept their invitations, none of them seemed hesitant to have Him into their house.
The kind of response that the centurion showed could only come from one place, the Word of God, and through only one means, conviction from the Spirit of God. This man had, undoubtedly, come to see himself as the kind of sinner that scripture says that he and all the rest of us are.
Paul described the sinner, if you remember, in Rom. 3:10-19: unrighteous, ignorant of God and refusing to seek Him, completely outside of the way of righteousness, unprofitable and without any good in him.
The centurion was not only theologically convinced of this truth, he was practically convinced, which means that his behavior matched was he believed. Since he truly believed himself a sinner, his was firmly of the opinion that he could not, with integrity, host the Lord of Glory in his home.
This man was not only ‘humbled’ by what he had discovered of himself as a sinner, he was shattered, broken, and completely undone. Think of it, he disinvited Jesus to his house because he considered himself ‘unworthy’ that the Lord should come under his roof. Surely most people in our day would think that he had gone “all to serious on this religion thing.”
There are many people in our day who would lecture him on his “position in Christ” and his “spiritual authority.” But, alas, this man was not nearly so smart as many of our preachers. All he was, all he had, all he could lay claim to was…….in the words of Jesus Himself…..GREAT FAITH.
Great Faith does not make one arrogant and self assured. It does not give a person the arrogance to seek to tell God, the Devil, or even angels what to do. In fact, it makes no demands on God at all. Requests? Certainly! Orders? Absolutely not!
The kind of faith recognized by God is the kind of faith that fully and completely acknowledges the complete sinfulness of the creature apart from God and operates from the perspective that the creature is owed nothing. Appeals made to God are made on the basis of His grace and not the worth of the creature.
What I need is to be found in Him.
Given what the centurion obviously believed: himself a sinner, the God of the Jews is God, Jesus is the Messiah prophesied, the problem he was facing was beyond the power of man to solve, his only obvious course of action was to seek help from Jesus Christ. What he needed was to be found in Christ alone Who, Alone, had the power to meet his need.
The reality is that this is true for every living soul. All he/she needs is to be found in Jesus Christ. Now, obviously, we are speaking of real, spiritual, and eternal needs.
What are those?
Forgiveness of sins
Spiritual life and growth in grace here and now.
Preservation from sin and communion with God in this life.
And, eternal life with God in eternity.
There are no other ‘needs’ that a human has. This is it. Everything else is only a ‘want’ or a ‘desire.’ Surely we have daily necessities that we must have if we are going to live, but we are going to come to a day when we do not live here any more. That is not a real and eternal need. But to be able to die in peace and move securely into eternal fellowship with God? Now there is a real need.
Every real need of every soul is to be found in Christ and in Him Alone. He is the Bread of Life and He gives the Living Water. Spiritual life and the power to sustain it comes from Him and from no other.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. KJV (Peter before the Sanhedrin)
I can say to you with all confidence, right here and right now, that all you truly need can be found in Jesus Christ.
I can also say with all confidence that what you need cannot be found anywhere else or in any other person or religion.
Therefore, I must earnestly and humbly seek Him.
One cannot come in pride and arrogance to the Lord of the Universe and have any hope of being heard by Him.
One must come just as the centurion did, “I am unworthy of even the least of your blessings. I am a sinner, as was my father and all of my grandfathers back to Adam. I have done nothing to deserve your mercy and everything to deserve and merit your wrath. I come petitioning your Mercy because I have a need that I cannot meet. I am crippled and diseased with sin. I cannot help myself. I need to be forgiven of my sins and to be given a new life so that I can live for You. Would you help me, Lord? I cast all of my hope upon you. Please saved me for Jesus’ sake.”
But this also is true of those who are already believers. You and I have merited nothing. Every good thing we have ever done has been by the Grace of God and Him alone. We have done nothing perfectly and have never done all that we should have done. Any hope we have of help from Him must be sought from His Mercy and Grace just as our salvation was sought. He has already given us far more than we could ever have deserved. It is true that Jesus has opened the throne room of God to us through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, but all of our dealings with God must still be in complete humility, seeking His Grace.
Those who truly had this Great Faith like the centurion trusted Christ so much that they committed themselves completely and totally to Him.
The work of the gospel is never finished in a soul. Once we have been brought to Christ in Christian Conversion, the Holy Spirit continues to unveil the truths that He first revealed to us before. Christ is Everything. I am nothing. Everything I truly need is to be found in Him. Therefore, I must earnestly and humbly seek after Him.
The Holy Spirit would have every believer to be as completely surrendered and committed to Christ as Paul was and He will never be satisfied with anything less than that from us.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. KJV
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. KJV
This is the place that Great Faith will always bring us.
Do you have Great Faith?
Are You Seeking It?