alt="The Great Faith of the Centurion in Jesus"

The Great Faith of the Centurion in Jesus

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Introduction

Belief in Jesus varies among individuals, with people approaching it differently. Some people believe in Jesus after hearing about him, seeing him, or both. These various ways can result in either belief or disbelief. While the adage ‘seeing is believing’ resonates with many, it’s crucial to acknowledge that ‘hearing is believing aligns with the biblical understanding of faith acquisition. Faith is not merely a passive acceptance of truth but an active application of truth, which grows with experience and knowledge.

When we consider the idea of faith, especially within the context of the Bible, we often encounter stories that both challenge and inspire us. One such story is about the centurion, whose faith was strong, impressive and commended by Jesus. During Jesus’s ministry, he travelled from village to village and city to city to preach the gospel and proclaim the kingdom of God. Capernaum served as one of the active bases for Jesus’s ministry, referenced 16 times in the Gospels but not mentioned in the rest of the New Testament. When Capernaum is mentioned in the New Testament, it is often in conjunction with the Sea of Galilee (Matt 4:13–22; 8:5–24; Mark 1:16–21; John 6:17, 24). Capernaum is a city located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The name means “the house (or town) of Nahun.” It was a fishing town with Jewish and Gentile (non-Jewish) inhabitants. Capernaum was also a customs station where officers collected tax dues and was occupied by a detachment of Roman soldiers, one of whom thought it worthwhile to build a synagogue for the people to secure their goodwill (Mat 8:5; Luk 7:5). This location is where the account of an incident with a Roman centurion occurred.

A centurion, a commander of a century in the ancient Roman army, was a highly experienced and esteemed figure. In the context of Jesus’ time, when Israel was under Roman rule, the centurion mentioned in the text was based in Capernaum. His servant was gravely ill, and the centurion sought Jesus’ intervention for his servant’s healing. This incident illustrates Jesus’ ministry extending to the Gentiles, foreshadowing his broader ministry towards the world. The account of the centurion and Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, presents us with a character who, despite his position of authority, exhibited an exemplary form of humility and trust in Jesus’ divine authority and power.

The Centurion Approaching & Appealing to Jesus

Matthew 8:5–7 (NKJV) 5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

Luke 7:1–3 (NKJV) 1 Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. 3 So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant.

After speaking to the people, Jesus travelled to Capernaum for his next ministry assignment. As Jesus entered Capernaum, his popularity and presence were widespread. When a high-ranking Roman army commander, a centurion, heard about Jesus being in town, he requested to see Jesus through the elders of the Jews to plead with Jesus to come and heal his servant. Luke 7:1–3 shows that the centurion did not make a casual request to reach out to Jesus.

The centurion’s compassionate nature and genuine concern for his servant were evident as he humbly sought help. The Gospel of Luke 7:2 states that the servant was dear to his master, the centurion. The centurion’s humility and willingness to seek help through divine grace and power, despite his position of authority, demonstrate his submission and profound recognition of Jesus’ healing ability.

The Centurion Acknowledging Himself and the Authority of Jesus

The centurion recognized his unworthiness and inability, but he acknowledged Jesus’ authority and power. He was a high-ranking Roman army commander in Israel, seeking help from subjugated people and addressing Jesus as “Lord” (Matt 8:8). Similarly, those who came to Jesus for healing also called Him “Lord” (kyrios in Greek). The centurion humbled himself before Jesus, a Jewish rabbi. He acknowledged the necessity of Christ’s mercy and his total unworthiness, admitting and submitting himself to the King of kings and Lord of lords to resolve his problem. The centurion felt humble because he knew he was a Gentile. Strict Jews didn’t socialize with Gentiles, so the centurion may have thought that Jesus, being a holy Jewish teacher, would hesitate to visit his home. The Bible says God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. In Matthew 8:7, Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” Jesus, in turn, showed a willingness to help by agreeing to come and heal the centurion’s servant despite the social norms of that time. It was entirely against Jewish custom for a Jew to enter a Gentile’s house, yet it was not against God’s love. In Jesus Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, for we are all one.

The Centurion Attesting of Faith in Jesus

Matthew 8:8 (NKJV) 8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.

In Matthew 8:8, the centurion demonstrates great faith in Christ by saying, “But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” He is strongly convinced and confident in Jesus’s divine and powerful words. The centurion didn’t ask Jesus to come, lay hands, and pray for his servant to be healed. He viewed Jesus not merely as a man of God, a prophet, or a rabbi but as God himself in the flesh.

The centurion ascribed the divine attribute of omnipotence to Christ, a power akin to that of the Creator God who spoke, and it happened. He firmly believed that whatever Jesus says will come to pass. He implored Jesus to speak a word, fully convinced that any utterance from Jesus would be enough to heal his servant. The centurion’s faith is unwavering. He believed that just a word from Jesus was potent enough to heal his servant. This is not a mere hope but a firm conviction and trust in the power of Jesus’s words. Even Martha (John 11:21) didn’t believe that Jesus could save her brother Lazarus without his physical presence. The centurion’s faith is a testament to his absolute conviction and trust in the powerful Word of Jesus, his mercy, and his healing power. The centurion believed in Jesus’ authority over time, space, and matter and trusted His ability to heal from a distance. He held Jesus’ words in high regard, recognizing their power, creativity, trustworthiness, and life-giving nature. The centurion’s faith in Jesus provided insight into the truth about Jesus as the living Word of God, transcending time, space, and matter, making the impossible possible for those who believe.

The concept of faith in Jesus Christ emphasizes the distinction between viewing Jesus solely as a human and recognizing Him as God. The centurion stressed that Jesus transcended time, space, and matter and should not be confined to human limitations. The account encourages an understanding of faith that sees Jesus not just as a human figure but as the eternal Word of God, capable of intervention and manifestation in any given situation without the constraints of physical presence. Bible references underline Jesus, as the Word requires no physical form to exert His influence or perform miracles.

Aspects of Great Faith

Matthew 8:8 (NKJV) 8 The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.

The ingredients of great faith, such as humility and compassion, are observed in the centurion’s character. Humility is a vital component of having great faith. “I am not worthy,” meaning I am not fit, not merely because he was a Gentile but a sinner who needed a Saviour. He was humble to Jesus because he viewed Christ in high honour. He approached Jesus with reverence. This is not said to reject or despise Christ’s presence and company but his unworthiness and unqualifiedness to host the holy, unique, supreme guest in his house. The centurion, unlike Pilate, was a man of high earthly status scooped down and submitted to Jesus (who has no earthly position or power held). Centurion was answerable to Jesus, while Pilate wanted Jesus to be answerable to him in John 18:28–40.

Spiritual authority holds more significance than physical authority. The centurion had physical authority, but Jesus, despite not holding any earthly position of power, possessed divine, spiritual and supernatural authority over everyone and everything. Acknowledged power is realized power. Humility is not a sign of weakness but a display of remarkable strength and faith, as seen in the centurion. It serves as the foundation upon which one places their faith in God, acknowledging their dependence and trust in Him rather than in themselves or anyone else.

Luke 7:2 (NKJV) 2 A certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die.

Compassion is another ingredient discovered in the centurion’s character, which is also an essential quality of your faith being recognized by God. The centurion displayed care, concern, compassion, and empathy — He came to a Jewish Rabbi for help. He came for help not for himself but on behalf of his servant. This centurion had a true love for his slave. As David Guzik stated, under Roman law, a master had the right to kill his slave, and it was expected that he would do so if the slave became ill or injured to the point where he could no longer work.

The Amazement & Accomplishment of Faith

Let’s underline striking observations about the centurion. He knew Christ’s popularity, acknowledged Jesus as Lord, and understood His divine worth and healing power. The centurion believed in Jesus’s divinity and supernatural authority over sickness and diseases. He attributed sovereignty, authority, and power to Jesus over all things. Here are a few points highlighting Christ’s sovereignty, authority and power. The centurion said that Jesus didn’t have to come to see the patient to heal. Since Jesus is the Great Physician, he could heal people from a distance. According to the centurion, just a word or words from Jesus would be sufficient to cure the patient from a far distance, beyond space, time, and matter. The centurion fully believed in the healing power of Jesus through his spoken Word and did not require Jesus’ physical presence near the patient. He was sure that Jesus possessed the authority and power to command things to be done and completed outside His immediate physical presence because He is omnipresent and omnipotent. The centurion did not dictate how Jesus could heal his servant. He did not prescribe to the Lord how or where He shall perform the healing. The centurion showed great faith in the words of Jesus. He believed that Jesus could heal with His Word as much as His touch. The words of Jesus are more significant, higher, and more esteemed than those of the emperor of Rome.

Matthew 8:10 (NKJV) 10 When Jesus heard it, He marvelled and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

Jesus praised the centurion’s faith as “great faith.” What does “great faith” mean? It means having an extensive, profound, outstanding, and impressive level of faith. It denotes a strong confidence and reliance on someone or something, complete trust and hope, or a strong belief. The centurion believed in Jesus, the supernatural, and the spiritual realm. Great faith is impressive and robust, producing instant and extraordinary results. Jesus is the focus of great faith, which must be stronger than the situation to work effectively.

Matthew 8:13 (NKJV) 13 Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

Psalm 107:20 He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Conclusion

The concept of faith in the perception of Jesus Christ emphasizes the distinction between viewing Jesus solely as a human and recognizing Him as God. The centurion highlights to us the belief that Jesus, transcending time, space, and matter, should not be confined to human limitations. According to the centurion’s example, one’s faith shouldn’t expect Jesus to physically manifest for intervention because Jesus embodies the Word (Logos), which is powerful and sovereign over physical presence.

In faith, we find solutions in Jesus for any problem and all problems. Faith is acknowledging, approaching, attributing, and appreciating that Jesus is the ultimate (the best) solution to any problem. There is a potent manifestation in the Word of Jesus when we trust in it. The spoken words of Jesus carry immense power and can lead to miraculous and materialized outcomes, as seen in the centurion’s request for his servant’s healing. The centurion’s story is a testament to the idea that true faith transcends the boundaries of social status, occupation, ethnicity, and religious background. His trust in Jesus was not based on what he had heard but on what he believed could be done through the power of the spoken Word of Jesus. The centurion’s story again is a compelling illustration of audacious faith in God, prompting bold, confident, and expectant action in the face of any problem in life. This profound level of trust is accessible to all, regardless of one’s position and background in life.

By Brahim M. Kallon

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