In Luke 7, we meet a Roman centurion. And in this account we find three different assessments of this man’s character.
First, the Jewish elders said the centurion was a worthy man. “When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, ‘He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue’” (vv.4-5). Apparently this centurion loved God and loved the Word of God, so he financed the building of a local house of worship where the Word of God was taught. And that, in the Jewish elders’ estimation, was a reason for Jesus to satisfy his request.
Second, the centurion said he was not a worthy man. “Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, ‘Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof’” (v. 6). When you really understand who God is, you see your own unworthiness. So this Roman centurion said, “I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7). Now that is faith. Do you believe that about God? Do you believe, even though God is in heaven and you are here, that God is powerful enough to hear and answer your request, no matter how impossible it seems? The centurion believed that. He believed God could answer his prayer, and that leads to the third assessment of the centurion’s character. Look at what Jesus said about him.
Third, Jesus said he was a man of faith. “When Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith’” (v. 9). Notice that Jesus “marveled” at the centurion. That word can also be translated “amazed.” There are only two times in the Bible where Jesus is amazed. One account is in Mark 6:6, where Jesus was amazed at the Jews’ lack of faith. The only other time was when Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s faith. Here is a man who had limited understanding of Jesus, but he believed Jesus had the power to do what He had promised to do.
“When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health” (Luke 7:10). The healing of the slave is kind of an afterthought in this story. Luke is saying, “By the way, when the elders returned to the house, the centurion’s slave was just fine.” You see, the focus in this story is not on Jesus’s miracle. The story centers on the centurion’s faith. That is what impresses God–faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “God Helps Those Who Can’t Help Themselves” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.