The Faith of the Centurion
“I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” – Luke 7:9b
The Centurion was an officer in the Roman army who was in charge of a hundred soldiers. He would have heard about the miraculous healing that Jesus was doing in the lives of the Jews and wanted to approach Jesus for his dear servant. He did not think that his position of power entitled him a visit from Jesus but thought himself unworthy to even approach Jesus. So he asked the elders of the Jews to carry his message.
The Centurion would have wielded considerable influence in the Jewish community to have had the elders approach Jesus for the healing of his servant. Whether the elders believed in Jesus being the Messiah or not, they would have seen or at least heard of the wondrous work Jesus had performed and wanted to use this to their advantage.
“This man deserves to have you do this,because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” – Luke 7:4-5
The Elders of the Jews felt indebted to the Centurion and would have done anything to gain his favor, even go and plead before Jesus, the man they were openly defying. The power of influence was much greater to them than the scriptures that they held on to so dearly.
People in power enjoy great benefits, not only from the government, but also from the religious heads who want some leverage. Jesus did not go with them due to the works of the Centurion but because He knew that the faith of the Centurion would serve as an example to the faithless in his own nation.
The Centurion who even though was an outsider to the Jewish community, could still recognize the authority of Jesus. He acknowledged his own authority and could very well imagine the authority the Son of God would command.
“I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”– Luke 7:9
Jesus wanted to make his audience realize that this ‘outsider’ had more faith in Him than God’s chosen race.
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
Soon afterward Jesus traveled to the small town of Nain which is about twenty-five miles from Capernaum (the town where Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant). There, a widow’s only son was being carried out of the city for being buried. Jesus was moved by the crying widow, who now had no one to call her own and could not even inherit her husband’s property as her only son was now dead.
When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. – Luke 7:13-15
This miracle is similar to the one where Elijah brought the son of The Widow of Zarephath back to life. The circumstances were similar in both cases and both passages end with Jesus/Elijah giving back the widow her son (I Kings 17:23).
But unlike Elijah, Jesus simply asked the young man to get up and he got up. At that point of time, many were comparing Jesus to Elijah and the other prophets of the past not realizing that he was the Messiah that they were waiting for all along.
Jesus and John the Baptist
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say,‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” – Luke 7:33-35
The Pharisees rejected John’s ministry by calling him a man possessed. The same people rejected Jesus, calling Him a friend of sinners. No matter how we package it, there will always be people who do not want to accept the Gospel. Or perhaps look for excuses and faults in the person who brings them the Gospel.
The people in the Old Testament days killed the Prophets who did not bring them a favourable answer from God and the people in the New Testament killed Jesus for being a friend of sinners and calling himself God. People were fascinated by John’s appearance and way of living but did not want to accept his message.
Today, people are more fascinated by the preachers than the Gospel they bring and when their beloved preachers fall from grace they reject the Gospel as well. Let us look at the message and not the messenger.
Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman
At the house of a Pharisee named Simon, a women who led a sinful life came and fell at the feet of Jesus. While weeping and kissing his feet, she also anointed Jesus with expensive alabaster oil. Interesting to note that according to the law of Moses, guests should be given water to wash their feet which clearly Simon did not follow. But Simon thought that if Jesus were a Prophet, he would not want to be associated with a woman of such character. Jesus addressed Simon’s thoughts with this parable –
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. – Luke 7:41-43
Those who think that they are sinless, will not have a great appreciation for what Christ did on the cross. The Pharisees believed that their deeds and obedience of Moses’ law gave them access to God’s kingdom and not some ‘prophet’ dying on a wooden cross.
Our self-righteous attitude prevents us from truly relishing the gift that Jesus has given us. We must let go of our pride and acknowledge that Christ died for all of us.
- In sending the Jewish leaders to bring Jesus to his house and then later sending a message saying your word is enough, did the Centurion have a change of heart?
- Why did Jesus not raise more people from the dead?
- How come John, the one sent to prepare the way for Christ, had doubts about himself about Jesus?