February 25, 2019
When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 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.” 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.
“He was amazed at him.”
As we near the foothills of “Transfiguration Mountain” Jesus just will not stop. These things Jesus is doing, they are amazing, but they are far from “kosher.” He touched a leper, made multiple claims to “Messiah” status, broke the Sabbath rules on purpose and even recruited a tax collector. We didn’t touch on that last one, but it would have been considered nothing short of treasonous. And now he is consorting with the enemy—an officer of Rome, a Centurion. Not only that, he is extending him the mercy of miraculous healing.
And one more thing. “He was amazed at him.” Here’s the kicker, “He” is Jesus. “Him” is the Roman Centurion. He doesn’t stop there. Jesus actually makes this soldier, a member of the occupying army, the “Gold Standard” of faith. Now that’s amazing. Check it out.
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.”
So what was so amazing here?
So for starters, the Centurion “highly valued” his servant. This must have gone beyond the mere “function” of the servant and into his personhood. That’s amazing.
Second, we see extraordinary humility on the part of the Centurion. That’s amazing.
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.”
Third, he was paying attention to Jesus of Nazareth. That’s amazing.
Fourth, he had extraordinary confidence in the authority of Jesus and in the power of his word. He makes an extraordinary analogy, noting the obedience of his own soldiers and servants to himself and comparing it to the obedience of sickness and death to Jesus. That’s amazing.
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.”
From this story we can deduce at least three things. 1. Jesus is looking for a quality of faith that is simultaneously humble and bold. 2. And he doesn’t care where he finds it. 3. Jesus is a category crusher and he has little tolerance for our pre-judgments about people.
It’s still true today. Sometimes the most amazing faith comes from the most surprising people; the people we least expect to have faith. The corollary is also true. Sometimes the most disturbing lack of faith comes from those we most expect to have it.
Ok—I’ll add a fourth and final observation: The more you are amazed by Jesus (as evidenced by faith moving in the power of love) the more he will be amazed by you.
Be on the lookout today for “amazing” faith, and don’t count anyone out, especially the ones you might consider least likely to even know Jesus. I’ll leave it there for today.
I’ll see you tomorrow in Nain.
Father God, thank you for this glimpse into what you find amazing. And thank you for this truth that the more I am amazed by Jesus, the more he will be amazed by me. That’s what I want. Save me from my vain efforts to impress and amaze others. Let that be reserved for you alone. In Jesus name, Amen.
What amazes you about Jesus? What might amaze him about you and your faith? In what practical way might your faith in Jesus move into the amazing category? Do you see the difference between trying to impress others and living to amaze Jesus?
For the Awakening,