The Faith of the Centurion

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because any one who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Hebrews 11:1, 6

Healing becomes the opportunity to pass off to another human being what I have received from the Lord Jesus; namely His unconditional acceptance of me as I am, not as I should be.  He loves me whether in a state of grace or disgrace, whether I live up to the lofty expectations of His gospel or I don’t.  He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.

Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God

The Encounter

 1When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6So Jesus went with them.  He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 

 9When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. 

Luke 7:1-10

Some Observations

Sermon over, back to healing and seeing what attracts Jesus to people.  

It appears that this encounter occurs directly after Jesus’ teaching on the Plain.  A centurion is a high-ranking Roman soldier, at this time involved in governing the Jews living under Roman occupation.  The centurion acts on what he has heard about Jesus – he wants him to come and heal a deathly ill servant.  This is a clear act of faith, while additionally demonstrating the centurion’s mercy for his servant.

He sends Jewish elders on his behalf to get Jesus; they make the case for Jesus to come, pleading with him based on the centurion’s love for the Jewish nation and his help in building the synagogue.  Jesus responds and goes with the elders.  They are stopped not far from the centurion’s house by his friends, carrying the centurion’s message that he does not want to cause trouble for Jesus (Jews would not ordinarily enter a gentile’s house); he says that he is not worthy to have Jesus come under his roof.  Faith + Mercy + Humility = Jesus’ full engagement.  A recurring theme.

The friends he sends also carry the centurion’s words about his authority over the soldiers under him.  Similarly, the centurion’s message acknowledges that Jesus can, “say the word, and my servant will be healed.”  Jesus is “amazed” at the faith of the man and says he has not found such great faith even in Israel.  This gentile (who has not even met Jesus at this point) has exhibited greater faith by only hearing about Jesus than those – mostly fellow Jews – who have witnessed him performing miracles.  We can contrast this to the disciples in the boat during the storm on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus is equally “amazed”. . . but at their lack of faith.

When the friends of the centurion return to the house, they find the servant healed.  Jesus did not even have to come to the centurion’s house to do so.  His faith has been rewarded as referenced in Hebrews above.

Lord, increase our faith.   Fill us with mercy towards those around us.  Let us approach you and every person you have put in our path in humility and love.  Once again: Faith + Mercy + Humility

The idea Brennan Manning captures above should be a centerpiece thought in all our relationships with those around us.  It is a safe bet that everyone we interact with today is desperately in need of healing in one form or another.  Let us act in humble mercy, with deep faith in our Lord’s desire and power to heal and, remarkably, use us as his vessels to do so in certain instances.  “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  


“Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.  Wise men store up knowledge; but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.”

  Proverbs 10:13, 14

A Prayer

“Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.  My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”  Your face, Lord, I will seek.  Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.  I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

 Psalm 27:7-9, 11, 13, 14