In the world many seek to impress. This attitude too often enters the church and certainly has caused problems all the way back to the time of Jesus. When thinking about impressive faith, it’s a noble goal, but impressive to whom? Jesus identified one who as a Gentile had impressive faith surpassing all in Israel (Matt. 8:5-12; Luke 7:1-10). The man was a Roman centurion in Capernaum.
The centurion was noted for being a good man by those who knew him (Luke 7:4-5). He was a man of authority under Caesar, who recognized authority, specifically the authority of Jesus (Matt. 7:29; 8:9). Often just such respect can be seen in career military men. They learn the chain of command, respect the order of authority, and it carries over into their personal life. Seems this was the case here in Capernaum.
He was a man of compassion (Luke 7:2), who felt deeply for those around him. It’s not hard to spot these kind of people, for compassion shows. Jesus was and is a compassionate Savior. This centurion had servants and could have hired another, but this one, his servant, was “dear unto him.” He could have dealt dispassionately with him, but he didn’t. He was a man who respected others regardless of their position. His friend was at the point of death which called for immediate action.
If there was to be hope for his servant, it must come from one in a position to help. The Centurion identified Jesus as that one. Many of the Jews didn’t, but this Roman Gentile did! Jewish leaders called Jesus beelzebub (Matt. 10:25) and the devil (Matt. 12:25). Here on this occasion a Gentile recognized the power of God in Jesus (Luke 7:7, Matt. 8:10-12; Acts 13:46). How did he come to such a conclusion? It is quite easily understood—he had seen and heard Jesus. No prejudice had confused him, no social order troubled him, he saw and recognized the glory of the Lord (Matt. 8:8). Anyone could have, but many through prejudice or fear refused to do so. This man said unto the Lord “I am not worthy.” He didn’t need a great show, just a word from the Lord and his servant would be whole.
All the above impressed Jesus (Matt. 8:10; Luke 7:9), and that should impress us. How did he come to such impressive faith? The only way anyone does—by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). His impressive faith was seen in that he stood on the street corner in Capernaum bragging about helping to build them an impressive Synagogue—NO. It was seen in his humility. Just a man trying to do what was right. One who obviously was seeking Truth, and though from without, he was a Gentile who Jesus said had faith that exceeded that of the Jews (Matt. 8:11-12).
He’s a great example today. Faith is seen and not heard, it’s characterized by obedient action (James 2:17). Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant proving Himself Lord, and leaving this wonderful account. Is your faith impressive? Jesus knows.
Northeast Church of Christ bulletin October 22, 2023