There is faith, that as we observe individuals, we can classify. Some we may classify as having a “dead faith” while others a “living faith”. (James 2:26) We may say one is a “hero of faith” (Hebrews 11) or note a demonstration of “great” faith (Matthew 15:28). But to observe a marvelous faith is one of the most special and rare moments we can enjoy. This is a faith that because of its grandiose nature and sanctified character, simply leaves one MARVELING! We are blessed to observe that faith, as we read Lk. 7:1-10 and/or Mat. 8:5-13.
The setting is Jesus Christ in His ministry of preaching the gospel and confirming the word through many signs and wonders. In Capernaum, a Centurion tells Jesus that his servant is paralyzed, sick, and close to death, and seeks Jesus’ mercy to heal the servant. It may not seem that different from other records of miracles in the scripture; for Jesus was accustomed to healing the lame, sick, blind, demon possessed... and even the dead. But this story is unique; not because of the miracle, but because of the man requesting it.
First, what makes this a true case of marvelous faith is the humility involved. We read in Luke’s account that the Centurion did not actually approach Jesus personally, but sent messengers on his behalf. Why? Because he was great and powerful or wealthy? Because he wanted to show off his stature? The servants (Jewish Elders) who approached Jesus, tried to assure Jesus that this man was worthy of Jesus’ love and mercy. But that was not the reason he sent the Jewish elders. In fact, it was quite the opposite – because the Centurion did NOT feel worthy to even have Jesus under his roof! (Lk.7:6) This man, a Centurion, a Gentile, had humility far surpassing that of the Jewish elders. This powerful man demanded nothing of Jesus, expected nothing of Jesus, but wholly prostrated himself before the grace of Jesus. What a marvelous faith!
Second, what makes this a case of marvelous faith is its holiness. To be holy means to be “sanctified” or “set apart”. This truly was the case in regard to the Centurion’s concept and application of authority. Authority is a subject that is never far from a real gospel preacher’s tongue. A true and living faith is born on the concept and proper understanding of authority and dies in its absence. The masses are characterized by their rejection of God’s authority, yet again we witness that this Gentile had a grasp of the concept far beyond the “scholars” of his day as well as ours, “…but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 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." (Lk.7:7-8) What a marvelous faith!
Third, and this is what truly makes me marvel and I can’t stress it enough, is that Jesus marveled at this man’s faith, “…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.’” (Luke 7:9) Nowhere else in scripture have I been able to find where God, creator of the heavens and earth, marveled at anyone’s faith as described here. This Centurion was honored by Christ, not only in fulfilling the centurion’s wish to save his servant from death, but also as being memorialized in scripture as a man who possessed a faith that caused Christ to marvel!
This nameless Centurion is a precious treasure of exemplary faith. A faith God demands of us, “BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH” (Heb.10:28) May you make yours one that is marvelous!