Luke 7:1-10 :
After he had finished speaking in the hearing of the people, he entered into Capernaum. A certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and at the point of death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and save his servant. When they came to Jesus, they begged him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy for you to do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built our synagogue for us.” Jesus went with them. When he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof. Therefore I didn’t even think myself worthy to come to you; but say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude who followed him, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith, no, not in Israel.” Those who were sent, returning to the house, found that the servant who had been sick was well.
This story demonstrates what a person does when they really believe that Jesus is “Lord.” This is a fascinating exchange for many reasons that may not be immediately obvious. It especially interesting to pay attention to the cultural fact that the centurion was a powerful Roman and that he was sending a message to a Jewish Rabbi. This Roman soldier was in charge of a group of ten soldiers, which means that he had authority. He was evidently rich enough that he had servants and was able to pay to build the Jewish synagogue in his town.
This centurion, being a Gentile, appears to have understood that he was unworthy to expect an audience from the Jewish Messiah. That could be why he sent the Jewish elders who told Jesus: “he built our synagogue for us.” This was a very respectful thing for the centurion to do, but there’s even more here. This powerful Roman was seeking help for his servant! I am told that this is not how the typical Roman treated their servants. I am told that Romans would be more likely to discard a sick servant because of the cost but this centurion expended time and energy to go seek help instead.
Finally, the centurion showed his faith by his works, just as the faithless express their lack of faith through their works. He sent the message to Jesus that He was fully aware of His authority over circumstances and that He realized that He didn’t have to come to His house to heal but that all He needed to do was give the word and the sickness would respond to Him.
Jesus was amazed at this because, it appears, that no one in Israel had shown that they believed like this. Notice that Jesus was always touching them and going to their houses. It appears that, no one had believed that He was so powerful He could just speak it into existence.
This is the kind of faith we need to have in the word of God too. People in church today really lack faith in the word of Jesus too. I’m thinking of the first 11 chapters of Genesis and the first chapter of John. The Bible tells us in John that Jesus made the world and in Genesis it tells us that He made it in six days. Some Christians today try to change the six days to some other number because, evidently, they doubt that Jesus could have done this and arranged all of the circumstances to work out the way He wanted them to. We really need to believe that when Jesus speaks, things happen. That is the kind of “Lord” we have. We can also expect that Jesus will still help us even if our faith is small, like He did for the others.