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This morning I read the story of the Roman centurion in Luke 7:1-10. Let s take a look at it.
1 "When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2There a centurions 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." NIV
The officer that asked for Jesus help had a few things going against him. That is probably why he had the elders from the local synagogue ask Jesus on his behalf. He was a Roman and a Gentile. Not the best combination in occupied Israel. He was the Centurion of about 100 soldiers charged with enforcing Roman authority. He must have had to exercise that authority within the community from time to time.
But, he was obviously a good man. He highly valued his servant and was concerned enough about the servant s health to take action on his behalf. He helped the local Jewish people and built the Capernaum synagogue, and was well thought of by the Jewish elders.
So this good man , with some handicaps in the eyes of the Jewish people, sought help from Jesus, and Jesus did indeed heal the Centurion s servant. Did He help him because of all the good things the soldier did for his servant and his community? Did Jesus help him because he built and probably paid for a synagogue? Did Jesus help because the elders spoke up for the soldier? Did Jesus grant his request because he was a Gentile that came to Jesus?
I think Jesus helped him because of the officer s great faith. After Jesus healed the servant, He said to the people following Him, I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel. The soldier sought Jesus help in a humble manner. He was confident that Jesus could heal his servant, even at some distance away from him. The centurion knew that Jesus could tell evil spirits to Go at His command, and angels to Come when He called. He knew that whoever or whatever Jesus told to Do this would do it.
So, what can be learned from the story about the centurion? To me it is that our prayers are answered, in great part, by our faith, and not by how good or bad we have been lately. Who knows what kind of duties the Centurion had to perform before this event? Maybe he had to arrest someone, or maybe something worse, in order to enforce Roman law.
The faithful centurion needed Jesus help, and he asked for it. He asked humbly, but with great faith in Jesus ability to heal his servant. We too should follow the example of the faithful centurion and pray for assistance in a like manner.
"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." (Ephesians 3:12) NIV