09-27-2020 “The Faith of the Centurion” (Part 3)

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Luke 7:1-10Matthew 8:5-13

I. Introduction.

Faith is not believing that God can – Faith is knowing that He will.

Faith is deaf to doubt – dumb to discouragement – blind to impossibilities – and knowing nothing but success in God.

Walking by faith means 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.

II. God’s Expectations for Faith.

God expects his children be people of extraordinary faith. He wants us to look at our circumstances through the eyes of faith. The Bible says faith can move mountains. How is your faith now?

Faith can bring changes in our situation. Heb. 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Our faith is not based on our present situation but it looks forward to the future. Do you have this faith?

How can you exercise this faith? In our text today I am speaking of a Roman centurion who had a great faith. Jesus told about him, “I tell you I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”

In our Gospel message today, we are going to see how we can achieve such faith?

A. The Faith of the Centurion.

So, what is the specialty of this Roman solider that Jesus was amazed at his faith? Our text today is about a Roman soldier’s faith which takes us inside true faith and shows how and what faith does.

In seventh chapter of Luke in verses 1-10 – we find a centurion who – though he was a Gentile – understood who Christ was and is. It is the story that would be of special interest to Theophilus – the Gentile to whom this account is addressed. The story is significant because this was a Gentile who exercised this faith and Even Jesus would remark that this man’s faith was amazing.

Only twice in all of Scripture was 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 “he was amazed by their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:6). The centurion had a faith that was more perceptive and sensitive than anything Jesus had witnessed in Israel.

What could be more horrible than to amaze the Son of God with one’s lack of faith? What could be more thrilling than to amaze Him with one’s faith. This centurion had amazing faith!

What I want us to consider “Why was Jesus so amazed?” “What are the characteristics that made this man’s faith so amazing?”

B. Faith Crosses All Barriers.

 “When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die” – Luke 7:1-2. 

When we look at the background, we find Jesus just completed his teaching on “The Sermon on the Mount.” He entered Capernaum which was under the command of the Roman centurion. Understand that a centurion is a Roman official of the military who is in charge of 50-100 soldiers. He has the rank of a present-day army captain. He was a military employee of the Roman government. He was the person responsible to maintain law and order.

The Bible says he had a servant who was ill and about to die. The centurion sent his representatives to Jesus asking him to come and heal his servant. Listen, the centurion was a very busy man. He had many servants to replace the sick servant but he took his time out to care for a servant. A servant always has low statusless money – and less value in society. People always like to associate with the other people of the same status or of a superior status. This centurion took time to care for a servant.

Secondly, the centurion asks a Jew – Jesus for help. Now, remember at this time the Romans are ruling the Jews. They never ask for help – it is below their dignity. The centurion crossed all social, racial, and ethnic barriers to appeal for help. In other words, the centurion was not self-centered. He cared about his servant and he is taking a risk of doing a service to a servant.

Our faith must be like the centurion’s faith – it must cross all barriers. When we are in Christ, we are a new creation. Then there is no separation for language, religion, caste, culture, or status. We are all one and God wants us to see everyone equal like the centurion. Jesus was amazed with this centurion’s selfless act in asking for help.

C. Faith Makes Us Active in God’s Work.

 “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, ‘This man deserves to have you do this, 5because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue’” – Luke 7:3-5.

We must understand that the Jewish people hated the Romans as the Romans ruled them – more so the soldiers as they tortured them. When we look into this context, we can find the Jewish elders approaching Jesus on behalf of the centurion. Definitely this centurion must have been different than other Romans – after all we are told the centurion had built a synagogue with his own money.

Listen – only the Jews could go to the Temple in Jerusalem but anyone could go into a synagogue. In the time of Jesus, the major way God spread the good news was though the teaching in the synagogues. The centurion knew if a synagogue could be built many could come to the saving grace of Jesus. He knew God was using the synagogue to spread the good news and he voluntarily built a synagogue – in other words he voluntarily participated in God’s work.

He enthusiastically involved himself in what was most apparent that God was doing. In short – the centurion was God-centered.

In stark contrast – according to George Barna – the church statistician – among adults who regularly attend church – that is at least once a month – 37% did not give a dime to a church in the last year. He goes on to say that only 3-5% of the people who do give –   tithe their income. The average donation by adults who attend non-Catholic churches is $17.00 a week. [George Barna. How to Increase Giving In Your Church. (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1997) p. 20.]

I was given a story that I hope is not true of us. When Pastor Smith picked up the phone, Special Agent Jones of the IRS was on the line. He said, “Is this Pastor Smith?” Pastor Smith replied, “Yes this is he.”

“I’m calling to inquire about a member of your congregation, a Dr. Ship. Do you recognize the name?”
“Yes, he is a member of my congregation. How can I be of service?”

“Well, on last year’s tax return, the doctor claimed that he made a sizable tax-deducible contribution to

your church. Is it true?” “Well, I’ll have to have the bookkeeper verify the information for you. How much did Dr Ship say he contributed?”

“Twenty-five thousand dollars,” answered Agent Jones. “Can you tell me if that is true?” There was a

long pause. Then the pastor replied, “I’ll tell you what, call me back tomorrow and I’m sure that it will be!”

Hopeful you contribute because you recognize that according to God’s word it is through the local church that he plans to reach a lost world.

If you have faith you will participate in God’s work in all aspects. You will find out which medium God is using nowadays and try to invest your time and money for the extension of God’s work.

I thank God for your participation in several local ministries – The Big Sting, The Food Pantry, The Ministerial Association, and Righteous Roots to name just a few.

Many of you are taking leadership – praying for the ministry – winning souls – donating for various things – tithing etc. Let me say you are investing in God’s work like the centurion and God will honor your faith.

D. Faith Makes Us Humble.

 “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. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.’”  – Luke 7:6-7. 

This Roman soldier was a man of considerable influence and power. We are impressed not only with this Roman Centurion’s great love – but also his uniquely great humility. This passage reveals essential components of the Christian faith and understanding of who Christ is and an understanding of who we are.

The centurion knew his status in the Roman Empire and he also understood who Jesus is. He knew he possessed worldly power but he knew Jesus had heavenly power. He knew he had the power to arrest and punish or kill anyone but he knew Jesus had the power to liberate and heal anyone. He knew – worldly speaking – Jesus was under his authority but he knew spiritually he was under Jesus’ authority. He counted heavenly power greater and surrendered everything to Jesus. In other words, he humbled himself.

He regarded himself as undeserving of having Jesus come under his roof – and even felt unworthy of meeting Jesus in the street so he doesn’t ask for that.

This soldier – unlike the Pharisees – does not ask Jesus for a sign that he was who he said he was. This man doesn’t even ask to meet him.  

So, before Jesus could reach his house – the Centurion sent a second representative to Jesus – to tell him that it was not necessary for him to come to his house. Because he felt so unworthy of meeting with Jesus and as he was familiar with Jewish religious customs – he did not wish to put Jesus in a position of having to enter the house of a Gentile.

When we come to God, we must come to him with humility. We must put aside our education – status – financial power etc., and surrender to the divine and spiritual authority in our life – God. We must understand that we are unworthy to stand in front of him but by His blood.

E. Faith trusts in Christ alone.

 “That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For 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” Luke 7:7-8.

The centurion knew if Jesus said a word it was enough. He trusted in Jesus and the authority of Jesus. He did not have a plan B if Jesus failed to heal his servant. He just trusted wholeheartedly. Listen – the centurion could have called for a Roman doctor to come and attend his servant. He just has to speak a word and the next moment the doctor would be there.

He did not depend on worldly resources but trusted in Jesus alone. Let us trust in God alone – just like this centurion.

III. Conclusion.

So…. Where is your faith this morning or tomorrow morning? Whom do you trust this morning? Maybe the centurion has never known Jesus personally – he just would have heard about Jesus from others but still he trusted in Jesus. We have the living Word of God – God has led us in the past – and still we fail to trust in our God.

Look at the response of Jesus. Luke 7:9-10:

“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.’ 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s faith. He did not find such faith in the whole of Israel.”

What was the specialty of the centurion’s faith:

  • The centurion’s faith crossed all barriers.
  • His faith made him active in God’s work.
  • The centurion’s faith made him humble.
  • And his faith made him trust in Jesus alone.

We find the servant received his healing because of the centurion’s faith. What are your circumstances this morning? What is it that is bothering you the most today?

My Beloved – Have faith in God. Look at your circumstances through the eyes of faith. God will do it for you.

Let us pray – We pray Thee, O Master, to increase our faith in Thee as we start out on our duties of each day and, at the same time, to increase our faith in our fellow man. Make us realize that without faith it is impossible to please God, to please ourselves, or to please anyone else. Since the man with the largest faith is the man who lives the fullest life, make our faith grow day by day, whatever else may be denied us. In Thy name we pray, Amen.