Sam Ward looks at the interaction of Jesus and ‘the centurion’ in Luke 7, challenging us to have the same level of faith
Sometimes I read a Bible passage that just triggers worship in my heart. Does this ever happen to you? This is what happened when I read Luke 7.
It tells of a centurion who calls on Jesus to heal one of his sick servants. At first, he asks Jewish leaders to go to Jesus and ask him to come to his home. But once Jesus nears, the centurion sends word, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof… But say the word, and let my servant be healed.’ The passage goes on to say that when Jesus heard these things he ‘marvelled at him’.
I have a Lord who marvels. And I think this is marvellous. Jesus is so human in nature. He laughs, he cries, and although he is the creator of all things, Jesus marvels.
So, who is this man that Jesus marvelled at?
He’s known as the centurion. We don’t get to know him by any other name. As a Roman he is a member of the occupying force. He’s the representative of the enslaving superpower that is Rome. He is considered an enemy.
The upside-down kingdom has a king who marvels at his enemy.
But let me tell you what’s so special about him.
He knows Jesus to be a healer. Being in Capernaum, the centurion would have heard of all the miracles that had been performed and was super excited that Jesus was on the scene.
He’s a good boss. At this time, servants were considered disposable. If one was faulty, they’d be thrown out and left for dead. But by wanting healing for his servant, we can tell that the centurion really cared.
He loved the Jewish nation. His role required him to suppress and contain the Jewish people. Despite this, he loved them, even building them a synagogue, a place to be free to worship.
All in all, he was a good and humble guy. He uses his resources to bless the Jewish people and doesn’t deem himself worthy for Jesus to enter his home.
But it’s not this list of characteristics that cause Jesus to marvel.
The centurion sent word to say that he knew Jesus was a man of authority. He knew that his authority was enough. There was no need for him to see or touch the servant, the centurion knew that Jesus just had to say the word and his servant would be healed.
He laughs, he cries and although he is the creator of all things, Jesus marvels
What incredible faith. This man is a dirty Gentile, an oppressor, a man who represents those who are killing the nation, but he spots the true nature of Jesus.
This guy’s faith is on a different level – Jesus marvels at his faith.
Do you see why this is great news?
To everyone reading this, we can have the same faith as the centurion even though we’re 3,000 miles and 2,000 years away from the Jesus who walked in Capernaum. Yet we can have the same faith that says Jesus’ words have the power and authority to change my situation, to change my household, to change my neighbourhood, community, city, nation. We don’t need to see Jesus or touch him – we can be people who pray ‘just say the word.’
I’d love to imagine that we can be a people with whom Jesus marvels. I want to please my Lord and be a person of such faith that Jesus marvels at me and says ‘wow!’
The words of Christ have power. Let’s be a people who say ‘Lord, just say the word’.
Listen to full talk: message.org.uk/podcast