…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
In the gospels, there are 2 people whom Jesus commended for great faith.
One is the Syrophoenician Greek woman, and the other is the Roman Centurion …
Let’s examine the Centurion’s faith.
Luke 7:1-10 (NASB)
2 And a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders asking Him to come and save the life of his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they earnestly implored Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; 5 for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.”6 Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7 for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 9 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
The Centurion expressed his faith
““Lord, … say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
For I also am a man placed under authority, having 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.”
Although he did not meet Jesus himself,
he acknowledged Jesus as Lord (kyrios) – supreme in authority (Strongs),
confident that Jesus’ word heals.
A Centurion commanded about 80 soldiers.
At that time, Rome was the most powerful empire on the earth.
In his daily work world in the Roman army, the Centurion clearly understood the chain of authority and submission down the army hierarchy. By acknowledging Jesus as Lord, supreme in authority, means Jesus is above all, and all powerful.
The Centurion received Jesus as his highest commander of the greatest Kingdom ever, worthy of all honor.
In a sense, from his daily work world, …
the Centurion escalated his challenges to his all powerful highest commander for His intervention and assistance
…. (that’s prayer).
Matthew 28:18 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Ephesians 1:19-22 (NIV)
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church
The centurion recognised Jesus had full and all authority over everything,
and over all sickness.
Hence, Jesus need not be physically present at his house to lay His hands on his slave to heal.
Furthermore, the clock was ticking fast … his servant was sick and ready to die.
Jesus marveled (thaumazō) at the Centurion’s great faith – the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 NASB)
The slave was sick and about to die …
but, after Jesus gave the word,
they found the slave in good health,
an instant healing.
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled (thaumazō) at him, …
“I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”
Jesus marveled (thaumazō) at the Centurion’s great faith.
In another situation, Jesus wondered (thaumazō) at the unbelief and lack of faith in his hometown, Nazareth … where He could do no miracle
Mark 6:5,6 (NASB)
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his ownrelatives and in his own household.” 5 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He wondered (thaumazō) at their unbelief.
Faith in who Jesus is, in His supreme glory and authority … brings His miracles.
Sadly, Jesus’ hometown folks saw him as merely a man.
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him
took offense (skandalizō) – to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority (Strongs)
For us, … who is Jesus?
Is Jesus truly LORD?
The Centurion was highly commended by the Jewish elders,
and most importantly … Jesus.
some Jewish elders … earnestly implored Him, saying
“…he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.”
Although the Centurion was part of the foreign occupying force in Israel,
he was an upright steward of his authority and power.
He was just, generous, and honorable to the native Jews.
He respected and supported the faith and culture of the Jews.
He gained the respect and support of the Jewish elders, rather than being hated as part of the occupying force,
From the testimony of the elders,
“…he loves (agapao) our nation …”
the centurion loved the people he governed,
and the people knew it, …. felt it.
The elders trusted him
… hence, they came to Jesus on his behalf.
The Centurion also opened his heart and hand to others
… for the respected Jewish elders,
and to the least, … his slave.
Through the Jewish elders, the Centurion boldly came to ask Jesus to heal his slave.
By the way, … besides the Centurion, … the Jewish elders also had faith in Jesus … if not, they would not have interceded Jesus on his behalf.
Jesus … marveled at him … said to the crowd
“I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”
The Centurion is a Gentile,
He grew up without the Law and the Prophets of Israel,
a stranger to the covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12)
Yet, he had great faith in the Messiah!
Furthermore, he did not personally meet Jesus
… yet he believed,
he reached out to Jesus for a miracle,
While reading this story, found something else interesting about the Centurion’s faith.
Among all the documented personal healing accounts in the 4 Gospels, the Centurion is the only one who requested healing not for himself, or someone related to him (eg son, daughter, mother-in-law),
… but a lowly slave, who was highly regarded by him.
For I also am a man placed under authority,
… to my slave,
‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
Although, the Centurion was a man of considerable authority,
with many soldiers, servants, slaves under his command,
he had a caring heart.
His slave’s sickness became his own concern and responsibility,
he went the extra mile, he stopped his busy schedule,
he invested his time, resources and social network to help,
— a servant-leader, a caring boss.
a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him
Similarly, Potiphar highly regarded his slave, Joseph (Genesis 39).
The words highly regarded (entimos) is also translated as highly valued, precious in other translations.
The Centurion agape the lowly slave,
just like the Lord highly valued us, and did all He could to save us.
Hence, beyond his faith, …
was the Centurion’s love and compassion for his neighbor, … his slave,
… someone from another culture, ethnicity, status in life.
… a reflection of God’s love & grace.
Matthew 14:14 (NIV)
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Love and compassion moves the hand of God.
1 Corinthians 13:2, 13 (NIV)
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love,
I am nothing.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
Galatians 5:6 (NIV)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
In the great faith of the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15:21-28),
… a mother’s love for her precious suffering daughter, spurred her to humbly persevere in appealing Jesus to heal her daughter.
Jesus spoke the word, and the demon immediately left her daughter … who was at home.
On another ocassion, Jesus healed a paralyzed man who was brought by his 4 dear friends. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. … Jesus saw their faith. (Mark 2:4,5 NIV)
Jesus saw their faith
Jesus also saw the love & compassion of the 4 friends for their paralyzed friend, … inspiring them to creatively go the extra mile to bring their friend to Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV)
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting,
because your faith grows exceedingly,
and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other
Let’s pray to seek to grow in faith and abound in love & compassion.
Both the Syrophoenician woman and the Centurion addressed Jesus as Lord.
They both came to the Messiah in humility … humbly asking Jesus to heal,
… (not insisting or demanding for healing).
The woman worshiped the Lord.
Centurion: “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof … just say the word, and my servant will be healed.“
Woman: 22“Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (Matthew 15:22,25,27 NIV)
From the example of the Centurion,
great faith is a package of character, generosity, caring leadership,
and love, compassion … even unto the least,
humbly giving full allegiance to the Lord, who is
all authority, all powerful,
the Lord of miracles.
An example for us to follow.
On a further note, there are two other Centurions mentioned in the Bible.
Here’s how the Bible described Cornelius and his family,
Acts 10:2-4 (NIV)
2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
Cournelius, a lay person working in the community, who was
devout and God-fearing;
he gave generously to those in need
prayed to God regularly.
i.e. Cournelius and his family lived out the first and second commandment, to love the Lord, and to love one’s neighbor.
Cournelius’ faith and love also impacted all his family.
3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.
Cornelius faith was commended by the Lord as his prayers & gifts were
a memorial offering before God.
a memorial offering,
God remembers our prayers to Him
and gifts to the poor, compassion to others.
… the prayer of the upright pleases him (Proverbs 15:8 NIV)
Acts 10:24, 44-46 (NIV)
24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Cornelius – another Centurion of character, generosity, God fearing, consistent.
On a side note,
its interesting that when the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, the first family to receive was the family of a Roman Centurion, a man of war, a government official from the occupying forces in Israel.
The Centurion and his family believed in Jesus, and entered the Kingdom of God.
Praise God, the Lord looks beyond our background, nationalities, color, status, creed, etc, … to our hearts responding to Him in hope, faith and love.
The third Roman Centurion was present at Jesus crucifixion. He stood right in front of Jesus throughout the agonising long crucifixion.
In his line of work, he had seen many crucified and die on the cross,
but ….Jesus was different.
Its interesting that 3 of the 4 Gospels all recorded the response of this Centurion at Christ’s crucifixion.
Mark 13:39 (NIV)
39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said,
“Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:54 (NKJV)
54 So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus,
saw the earthquake and the things that had happened,
they feared greatly, saying,
“Truly this was the Son of God!”
The Roman centurion and his group of Roman soldiers believed,
“Truly this was the Son of God!”
Perhaps, … while the soldiers stood there, watching the excruciating slow death of crucifixion, as people around mocked and sneered … they heard one statement they had never heard before at a crucifixion:
34 Then Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they do.”
Luke 23:34 (NKJV)
For earlier in that day, … Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged (John 19:1 NIV)
and the soldiers had … stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”30 Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
Matthew 27:28-31 (NKJV)
The soldiers have never met such criminal, prisoner like Jesus,
… as they mocked, flogged and punished him,
Isaiah 53:7 (AMP)
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth [to complain or defend Himself];
Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before her shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
A suffering prisoner in severe pain, facing death,
beaten and mocked by them,
who prays for them, “Father, forgive them”
Or perhaps, … in His agonising moments in death throes, how Jesus tenderly ministered to one of the criminals who was crucified with Him, … granting him his final wish.
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him,
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:42, 43 (NIV)
Whatever its was, … they somehow realized they’ve seen God and His love in their midst.
In the gruesome mess of intense pain, suffering, injustice … the smell of fresh blood and dying bodies,
they saw God’s love … like a beam of crystal clear light from heaven piercing the darkness.
Love in action.
All three centurions saw and believed Jesus is “Truly … the Son of God”
Not just a mere man, …. not just a prophet,
but truly … the Son of God.
The Son of God who came as a man,
… who heals the sick
… who died on the cross for all our sins; forgave our sins
… who rose again, and baptise believers in the Holy Spirit
John 20:21 (NIV)
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name
This is the gospel, the good news.
Jesus came for both Jews and Gentiles, as seen in the lives of the three Centurions,
His grace abounds for all.
…. grace extended even to the enemies of the Jews occupying the land — the Romans.
He is impartial and just.
.. I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me. (John 6:37 NLV)
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
June 5, 2015
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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