Just say the word: the centurion’s great faith

Since Jesus was God in the flesh, it would take something of ginormous significance to cause him to marvel. But that’s exactly what the centurion with the sick servant did, according to Matthew 8:10 and Luke 7:9. Of course, when we see the word marvel used in these verses, it’s not in the sense that Jesus was astonished or majorly surprised. He marveled in the sense of having great admiration for the centurion’s faith-filled character.

The few verses that talk about the centurion in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 render a treasure trove of admirable things about him. Firstly, it was a wonder that a high-ranking Roman officer would be on such good terms with the Jews that he built them a synagogue. It was a common thing in that day for Jewish Zealots to start uprisings and attack Roman soldiers. Corrupt Jewish religious leaders were also a common thing. Despite all that, this centurion was able to look beyond both the anti-Jewish prejudices of Romans as well as the anti-Roman prejudices and corruption of the Jews to see how real God is.

Secondly, it was admirable that despite living in violent, uneasy times where Roman officials like the centurion often saw the worst in people that he would have compassion for his servant as well as faith in the Lord. He must have not only been familiar with Christ’s teachings and miracles, but must have been familiar with the Old Testament as well. Thirdly, it was a marvel that a man of such great stature who had to have risen through the ranks by being stern and hard as nails would be so humble as to admit that he was not worthy to have Jesus step foot in his house.

Fourthly, the centurion was a wonder in that he could recognize how the Lord operates in authority by looking at real life examples from his own life. All of these things together showed that despite all the darkness and evil surrounding the centurion, the Lord saw fit to give him the gift of faith to believe in Jesus and the inherently emptiness of his sinful life drove him to the conclusion that there was something more valuable and meaningful in life than the Roman military life. So the centurion drew the conclusion by faith that all the Lord Jesus had to do was say the word and the servant he loved would be instantly healed.

Then Jesus used him as an example to show how God would fill his kingdom with faith-filled Gentiles. All because the majority of Jews, who should have been part of God’s kingdom given their heritage, had hardened their hearts against faith in God. Therefore, since they rejected God, they would be cast into outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). I pray that we as saints will walk in the marvelous faith of the centurion. I also pray that God will continue to draw unbelievers who in the same way the centurion looked past the faults of the Jews to see the Lord, will look past the faults of Christians to accept him.

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