The Gospels tell many miracles Jesus did while on earth. In Luke 7:1-10 (also found in Matthew 8:5-13) we see Jesus healing the servant of a faithful centurion.
What is the story of Jesus and the Centurion? When Jesus entered Capernaum, some Jewish elders came to him and told him of a centurion’s servant who was ill. The centurion sent these elders to ask Jesus to come to his home and heal his servant. While Jesus was on his way to the home, more men came up to him. These men were sent by the centurion again with a message. They told Jesus to no longer bothering coming. The centurion said he is not worthy to have Jesus in his home. He still believed that if Jesus says the word his servant would be healed. Jesus proclaimed he had not found faith like the centurions in all of Israel. When the friends returned, they found the servant was healed.
The faith of the centurion is incredible in this story. This man was Gentile and a Roman soldier. He should have been one of the last people to trust Jesus.
Yet, we see him in this story putting all of his trust into Jesus. He believed his servant would be healed. Now, let’s dive deeper into each part of this story.
Jesus in Centurion
After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.Luke 7:1-2
To give you some context, Jesus had just finished His Sermon on the Mount and was passing through Capernaum. Word must’ve gotten out that He was there because a Roman centurion sent Jewish leaders to find Jesus.
Centurions were Roman officers who were in charge of 100 soldiers, and it was very unlikely, bizarre even, to find one hanging out with Jewish leaders.
We don’t know exactly how this centurion came to trust the God of the Israelites, but no doubt the miracle of his faith was a gift from God as well as the product of the community of his Jewish friends.
Jesus is Worthy
When the Jewish leaders meet Jesus they beg Him to come to heal a servant on behalf of the centurion.
The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogueLuke 7:3-4
After saying this, Jesus and his entourage follow them. It’s strange, however, that it looks like the centurion’s worthiness, love, and works, are what motivate Jesus to follow.
It’s sad that this part of the passage is what most people are living for today. If you’re worthy enough, if you’re loving enough, if you do enough, Jesus will answer your prayers.
Contradictory to this sad way of living, is the fact that the Roman centurion was one of the least worthy people in the eyes of the Jews. The centurion even admits this:
Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.Luke 7:6
Instead of harping on his own worthiness or achievements, the centurion acknowledges Jesus as worthy and all-powerful.
He knows that God has the power to speak things into being, just as God spoke the world into creation.
The Authority of Jesus
For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.Luke 7:8
Just as the centurion recognizes how unworthy he is and how worthy Jesus is, he also knows that Jesus has the ultimate authority.
Remember, this centurion had 100 soldiers under his command. He was wealthy enough to build a synagogue. He could have chosen to bribe or threaten Jesus. But he didn’t.
He believes that Jesus is who He says He is, and the centurion sees the authority he has as a gift from God, the one who is above all things, even above Roman officers.
The Centurion’s Faith
The centurion came to Jesus with humility and acknowledging His authority by faith. What even is faith? How does it affect our relationship with Jesus?
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.Hebrews 11:1 CSB
Faith is believing in something, even if it hasn’t been proven or come true yet. The centurion made the healing of his servant a reality by putting his faith in Jesus, who has proven that what is unseen or impossible, may be seen and made possible.
Jesus proved the centurion’s faith was real and proved His own divinity in the act of miraculously healing the servant.
Jesus didn’t need to do this to prove anything but he still chose to heal the centurion’s servant, who He deeply loved.
Hebrews 12:2 refers to Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith, not solely because He enables us to have faith by His power (authoring our faith) but because He actually finishes it and fulfills it (perfecting our faith).
Therefore, our power is not found us, since it wasn’t the Centurion’s faith that held the magic spell for healing, but in Jesus. He is the one who is able to stir up faith within us.
Jesus is Amazed
When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’ And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.Luke 7:9-10
In other versions, the Bible says that Jesus was amazed, and for good reason. In all of Israel, the people who know of the wondrous works of God, Jesus could not find a more faith-filled person. And He said it right in front of everyone.
Because of the centurion’s faith, we see Jesus marvel, and we remember that the only other time Jesus was amazed in the Bible was when He saw the lack of faith in his hometown. Ouch.
A Roman centurion, who wasn’t even an Israelite, had more faith than the people who grew up with Jesus and saw Him live a perfect life. Let’s not be the people who amaze Jesus by our unbelief.
How Do We Approach Jesus?
Throughout this story, the centurion only ever approached Jesus with humility, faith, and love.
The centurion didn’t even view himself as worthy enough to go and meet Jesus or make Him walk all the way to his house, instead he humbled himself and trusted Jesus.
He believed in who Jesus was, knowing that his faith gave God room to move and heal in big ways. After all of this, his whole motivation for asking Jesus to heal his servant wasn’t for personal gain, but out of love.
How many times have we sacrificed our faith for our pride? It would’ve been so easy for the centurion to hold onto his position and pride instead of exalting Jesus and asking Him for help.
We sometimes think that if we take a step out in faith then we’ll look foolish. We don’t fully believe that Jesus is completely who He says He is.
It will never be by our works or worthiness that amaze Jesus, He already loves us endlessly. It’s our faith that Jesus authors and perfects in us that is the platform for His greatness. So let’s let love motivate us to step out in faith, trusting God to heal and move through us.