We know power struggles in America at every economic and social level. The chains of command in government are in frequent conflict. We often see those in positions of authority abusing their power. And we often see those under authority fighting against their superiors.
The examples of this today are too numerous to name, but they reflect a culture that has issues with the very concept of authority.It seems like hierarchies of all kinds are under attack today.
It’s refreshing to see one who possessed authority also know how to submit to a higher authority.
Read Luke 7:1-10
The Centurion’s Request (1-5)
1 From plain > Capernaum, Northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee.
2 The servant of a centurion was deathly ill.
3 The centurion sent Jewish elders to ask Jesus for healing.
4-5 The centurion’s love and support of Israel probably classified him as a “God-fearer”.
Notice the repeated references to the Centurion’s kindness:
- His care for his sick servant.
- His love for the Jewish nation.
- His support of their worship.
This generosity and kindness did not come from his nature or upbringing; it came from the Holy Spirit. Although, he probably still had some theological confusion.
The faith of this outsider should encourage all of us to be ready to do good. Kindness isn’t always easy. We might feel justified being cold or unsympathetic. Few people deserve our kindness. But that’s the point.
Ryle The kind person will seldom be without friends.
His character went beyond kindness…
The Centurion’s Faith (6-8)
6-7a The centurion sent friends to meet Jesus. The centurion acknowledges his unworthiness to host/stand before Jesus.
7b-8 He trusts that Jesus has the authority to heal by the word of his command, just as the centurion has authority to command his soldiers.
Notice the contrast between what the Jewish elders said about the centurion and what he declared about himself. The elders honored him and considered him worthy, but he would not exalt himself. It’s a beautiful picture of humility that prepared him to provide a marvelous picture of faith. > Foreshadowing Cornelius.
Humility and faith go hand-in-hand? Genuine trust requires humility. We might apply that horizontally as well as vertically.
Sproul There is no hope of justification until one is ready to humble himself before God.
Ultimately, the centurion models a proper response to the Gospel.
We anticipate a happy ending…
The Savior’s Response (9-10)
9 Jesus marveled at the man’s faith acknowledging that he hasn’t even seen that level of faith in Israel. The only other occasion Jesus marveled was at unbelief (Mark 6:6).
10 When the centurion’s friends returned to the house the servant had already been healed.
Much like we saw in Judges 10:16 this morning, it is the Lord’s compassion that provides the foundation for our salvation.
However, Jesus pauses to marvel at the quality of this Gentile’s faith. He trusted like few others. It’s a model of faith that we should all aspire to possess.
WSC Q.86: Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
The centurion wholly trusted in Christ alone for healing. We must do likewise in response to the gospel.
- The Centurion’s Request reveals his kindness. A kindness to the Jews that wasn’t typical of people in his position (although, ironically, all of the centurions in the Bible are men of godly character.
- The Centurion’s Faith stemmed from a humility that recognized and submitted under the power and compassion of Jesus.
- The Savior’s Response was to marvel at how accurately this outsider understood the gospel.
One of Luke’s goals, in his writing, is to chronicle the extension of salvation to Gentiles.
The centurion models for us all, a humble faith that wholly trusts in the grace of a compassionate Lord.