“Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I 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 slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Luke 7:2-9)
There was something about this centurion— his attitude? His disposition? His spirit, maybe? His outlook? His humility? His heart, maybe? (I have been told on numerous occasions across the years after proclaiming The Word that I had touched their heart! It is so easy for me to tell when ‘your heart ain’t in it!’ I know that it is true— what comes from the heart, reaches the heart!.) Perhaps Jesus saw this centurion’s heart? But, something about this centurion places him first in the New Testament’s model for faith.
“Not even in Israel…”. Jesus boldly compares this centurion’s faith to the lineage of such a great nation, and so that no mistake is made here, the founding fathers, the patriarchs are named! What is this faith that Jesus saw in just this small encounter with this centurion that he had not seen “even in Israel”?
Key, for me, in this faith event is the fact that so many of the persons of the centurion station’s thoughts, words and deeds towards the personhood of Jesus was to destroy him. Jesus had no money. He had no property. He had no concern for or pursuit of food, shelter or clothing! He had no participation in the national life. He built no house(s) of worship! His ‘homelessness’ was by design! All Jesus had was ‘His Word’ which as he spoke it to persons of sufferance, they began to follow him around. And yet, he never used the means of those who followed him to alter his ‘homeless existence’;which, I think, is a very vital part of the power of ‘His Word’! He never took anything from his followers! To be sure, he charged his disciples to “take nothing…”
Jesus had already begun to identify in his ‘Word’ to the disciples that those of the extreme opposite (the centurion kind) would— (and to be sure did) come to take his life.
Enter a centurion who came taking thought for the wellness of his slave. (Suspect in my small modern mind of course, as a descendent of slaves— he needed him well to continue the servitude.) But Jesus saw something else! “Not even in Israel have I seen such faith!”
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