“Not another message about faith?” YES! And during the Christmas season, especially.
FAITH definition: “Faith is not believing that God can; it’s knowing that He will.”
Application: Walking by faith is being prepared to trust where we are not permitted to see. FAITH allows God to do for us and with us what we could never do alone.
This Bible study in Luke, chapter 7, begins with a Roman soldier’s faith and takes us inside TRUE FAITH showing how and what faith does in lives.
FAITH is deaf to doubt, dumb to discouragements, blind to impossibilities and knows nothing but success in God.
Scripture study: Luke 7:1-10
At Christmas time, especially, faith is the highpoint from the event that happened so long ago in the small town of Bethlehem. In this story, we find a Roman centurion who, though he was a Gentile, understood who Christ was and is. And although this story of a “Centurion” is ancient history to us today, it would have been of special interest to Theophilus, a Gentile to whom this account is addressed (Luke 1:3).
Only twice in all of Scripture Jesus said to “marvel” or be amazed. The other time was when He began His public ministry in His hometown of Nazareth and He was rejected by His fellow Jews–(Mark 6:6; Luke 4:14-30) “He marveled (“was amazed’) by their lack of faith.”
The Centurion had a FAITH that was more knowing and sensitive than anything Jesus had witnessed in Israel.
What could be more horrible than to amaze the Son of God by one’s lack of faith? What could be more thrilling than to amaze Him by one’s faith? This centurion had amazing faith!
“Why was Jesus so amazed?” A question I had to investigate.
WHAT ARE CHARACTERISTIC MAKES THIS MAN’S FAITH SO AMAZING?
Luke 7:1-2 (AMP)
 AFTER JESUS had finished all that He had to say in the hearing of the people [on the mountain], He entered Capernaum.  Now a centurion had a bondservant who was held in honor and highly valued by him, who was sick at the point of death.
This man had an amazing faith that caused him to love across all barriers.
Jesus had just completed the teaching known to us as “The Sermon on the Mount.” He now enters Capernaum, a city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.
While Jesus is in Capernaum, He is approached by representatives of the Roman Centurion. Centurions were commonplace during the Roman Empire and equivalent in rank to a modern-day army captain, normally in command of 1000 soldiers.
This particular centurion had a servant who was ill. Matthew (8:6), in his account of this incident, says, “a servant boy.” Whoever this young man was, Luke, who was a doctor, said he “was sick and ready to die.”
If you’ve ever clung to a loved one at death’s door and felt they were slowly losing the battle, you must know this centurion’s awful sense of helplessness.
We are told that this man loved Israel, though it was not the land of his birth.
It’s also obvious in reading that this man cared deeply about his young servant which is very out of the ordinary socially and the crossing of racial and ethnic barriers when as a Gentile, he appealed to a Jew for help.
This man loved people not just like himself.
Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel particularly effective in loving folks who live outside the social barriers around me (eg. “skid row”, the homeless in tents on the city sidewalks…).
The second characteristic I noted of an Amazing Faith was that it caused this man to be excited and active in the work of God around him. (vv. 3-4)
We need to understand that the Jewish elders had little love for the Romans in general and Roman soldiers in particular. This Roman officer must have been a very unique individual for the elders to be willing to approach Jesus on his behalf.
The elders not only bring the man’s request but they vouch for their Gentile friend. They argue that he’s a man of integrity he’s well-liked by the Jews, and worthy of Jesus’ help.
Verse 3 says, “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to Him, asking Him to come and heal his servant.  When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with Him, This man deserves to have you do this  because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
This man had given substantially to the building of a house of worship. Gentile worshipers were barred from the Temple in Jerusalem but not so much with synagogues in the outlying areas. The synagogue was a place that even Gentiles could come and listen to the word of God being taught.
So in that time and place, this centurion lived the major way that God was using to spread His light within the synagogue system, using his money, his reputation, and influence to build the synagogue. The centurion consciously chose to participate enthusiastically by involving himself in what was most apparent in what God was doing.
In stark contrast, according to George Barna, a church statistician, adults who regularly attend church, 37% didn’t give a dime to a church in the last year [George Barna, How to Increase Giving in Your Church (Regal Books) p.20].
In this man’s marvelous faith, it caused him to approach Christ in great HUMILITY (vv. 6-7).
This passage reveals two essential components of the Christian FAITH–an understanding of who Christ is and an understanding of who we are in Christ Jesus.
Not only did this man display great love, but also his great humility.
In verse six we find, “So Jesus went with him to his house. 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 s why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you…”
Before Jesus could reach his house, the Centurion sent a second representative to Jesus, to tell Him that it wasn’t necessary for Him to come to his house. All because he was familiar with Jewish religious customs, he didn’t wish to put Jesus in a position of having to enter the home of a Gentile.
This Roman soldier, a man of considerable influence and power, was also uniquely HUMBLE and regarded himself as undeserving of having Jesus come under his roof, even felt unworthy of meeting Jesus in the street.
This soldier, unlike the Pharisees, doesn’t ask Jesus for a sign that he was who He said, he was. This man doesn’t even ask to meet Him.
The third characteristic of this man’s remarkable faith might be summed up in this song–his willingness to trust Christ alone even before the Cross.
How much more do we have today but to TRUST in Christ alone?
Verses 7b-8 (NIV) – [7b] “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.”
The centurion apparently realized the One who had the power of life and death; that could heal with a word, must be God incarnate. And if Christ is divine, then he, as a Gentile sinner, must be unworthy to even meet Him.
All Jesus must do is say the word, and he believes that it is as good as done!
There’s no evidence that I could find in Scripture that this man ever personally heard Jesus preach, and yet he believed. He made his request known based on what he heard of Jesus.
In verse 8, the word “myself,”–“also,” in other translations–we see that the officer saw a parallel between the way he commanded his soldiers with the way Jesus commanded diseases.
If this Roman, with very little spiritual instruction, had that kind of FAITH in God’s word, how much greater our FAITH should be!
In VERSE 9, we see the reaction of Jesus:
 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and He turned and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I tell you, not even in [all] Israel have I found such great faith [as this].” (AMP)
This man’s remarks amaze Jesus, so much so, that they came from a Gentile. He marveled at a Roman centurion, whose background and circumstances ought to have made it difficult for him to have faith, a man whose occupation prized being big, bad and tough, a man steeped in paganism, a man hated by the Jews because he was Roman.
Yet in spite of all the circumstances that went against him, here stood a man who was a perfect example of FAITH.
Almost as an afterthought, Luke adds verse ten, “And when the messengers who had been sent returned to the house, they found the bondservant who had been ill quite well again.” (AMP)
So how often have you displayed such faith?
We will never be perfect in our faith but we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to enables us to incorporate the elements into our lives.
Back to the question: HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU DISPLAYED SUCH FAITH? If you’re like me, not very often. And that’s a sin. Because it’s God’s will that we all have amazing faith. But all too often in our ‘business,’ we get so wrapped up in ourselves, we don’t show true care and concern for others. Remember, true faith is “active”–not sitting around the fireplace talking about the unfortunate. What startled and impressed Jesus were the characteristics that anyone like you and me can have in our lives. Some think that “amazing faith,” is the ability to do the miraculous. But miracles are something that Jesus can do anytime.
This Bible study in Luke should bring the understanding there are today those whose lives that would impress Jesus, because of their faithful godly lives.
The characteristics of a marvelous, amazing, faith!
- IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO LOVE ACROSS BARRIERS.
- IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO BE EXCITED AND ACTIVE IN THE WORK OF GOD.
- IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO APPROACH CHRIST IN GREAT HUMILITY.
- IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO BE WILLING TO TRUST IN CHRIST ALONE.
Through the POWER of God’s Word, and through our Savior Jesus, we can be people of amazing faith–someone whose FAITH is unselfish, unassuming, and unwavering, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves. AMEN.
Music Video: YouTube video, In Christ Alone – Brian Littrell
Photo Images: Google Image search
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV); Amplified (AMP).
Various Commentary on Luke 7:1-10: Sermon Central