How does Jesus define great faith?
The Faith of the Centurion
In Matthew 8: 5-13 we find an account of Jesus interacting with a Centurion. A Centurion was an officer in the Roman army who commanded a century of soldiers (or 100 soldiers). I encourage you to read this account before continuing with my post. It is so important to read the Word for ourselves and not assume that what others say is true!
Now that you have read this account you see that the Centurion had a servant who had become paralyzed and was suffering. This Roman officer came to ask Jesus to heal his servant. (First let me say that this Centurion must have cared deeply for his servant to go so far out of his way to seek healing!) When Jesus offers to come to the man’s house, he gives an interesting reply. One that greatly impresses Jesus. Here are his words from the NIV version of the Bible.
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For 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.” Matthew 8: 8-9
This military officer has a healthy understanding of authority. I believe one that most of us would benefit learning from. As Americans, we prize our freedom. As we should! We live in a blessed and beautiful country and enjoy freedoms that most of the world only dreams about! In more recent generations, however, with this freedom has come a great distrust of authority. Many earthly authorities have abused the powers granted to them and caused much pain and suffering. But I believe it is important to fight for a healthy understanding and respect of authority despite this reality.
Why do I believe this?
Because of Jesus’ response:
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Matthew 8: 10
While there are several reasons why Jesus commended this man as having great faith, perhaps the most significant is that Jesus equates this man’s understanding of authority with Great Faith! The Centurion is both a man under authority, and a man who is in a position of authority over the soldiers he commands. He knows how a chain of command works. Therefore he realizes that if Jesus says it will be done, it will be done! As simple as that. The religious authorities of the day questioned Jesus relentlessly about his teachings, lifestyle, followers, etc. But this man, who was not of Jewish decent, had a great trust in Jesus’ authority. He did not question Jesus.
What does this mean for me?
Here are some questions I am asking myself in regards to this passage of scripture:
- What commands of Jesus’ am I reluctant to obey?
- What promises of God’s do I have trouble believing in?
- What authorities has God placed in my life? And do I have respect for them?
- What are my kids being taught about respect for authority? And how can I promote a healthy understanding for them?