Luke 7:6-10 “So 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. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But 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.’ When 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.’ Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”
There was no doubt in the mind of this Roman centurion that Jesus could take care of his problem. But that faith was not based upon some worthiness he found in himself. He did not expect Jesus to help him because he was a prestigious Roman soldier who had done such great things. At no point does he believe that he can impress Jesus into helping him. That may work with people sometimes. My brother once worked as a parking valet at a popular Minneapolis restaurant. One night a star player for the Twins baseball team wanted to park his car right in front of the restaurant. When my brother told him to move it, he replied, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m…” For us to try to impress Jesus into doing something special for us would be more like saying, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the parking valet!” Only the difference between us would be infinitely greater.
The centurion does not find his assurance in who he is. He is all humility. As a Gentile, he even seems to realize that coming into his home would make Jesus ceremonially unclean. Before Jesus he is no longer the impressive Roman soldier. He is merely a powerless, lowly sinner in need of Jesus’ help.
He finds his assurance in what Jesus says! “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” More literally, he says, “Speak with the word, and my servant will be healed.” Some people think that Jesus’ word is just information. It can inform. It can educate. But after that, it’s all up to you.
This man knew better. Jesus’ word is full of power and authority. When the centurion spoke to the soldiers and servants under him, they had no will to resist. They had to do what he said. If Jesus, as God, speaks to the forces of nature under him, they have no will to resist. They have to do what he ways. That power of God’s word is one of the very first lessons of the Bible, isn’t it? “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” If Jesus spoke the word, the servant was sure to be healed.
Does that kind of assurance amaze you? Jesus thought so. “When 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.’” Think of the assurances we would have, if only we believed his word: We wouldn’t be weighed down by our guilt, because Jesus has promised, “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven.” We wouldn’t be afraid of death, because Jesus has promised, “I am the resurrection and the life.” We wouldn’t worry about having enough, because Jesus has promised, “Seek first the kingdom of God… and all these things will be given to you as well.” We wouldn’t worry about our children, for Jesus has promised, “Their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” We wouldn’t worry about our troubles, because Jesus has promised, “In this world you will have much trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Like the centurion, we have every reason to believe that if Jesus says it, it must be so. If we listen to Jesus’ promises, he will give us such an amazing faith as well!