Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Amaze Jesus

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.’” – Luke 7:9

In 1982, Vice President George H.W. Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the casket until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest.

There in Moscow—the capital of communist atheism—the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life where Jesus reigned and that Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.

Jesus Christ brings us hope, doesn’t he? And in the first half of Luke 7, the Bible shows us a case study in hope. Jesus was in Capernaum when a Roman centurion with a very big need asked him for help. The centurion sent some elders of the Jews to ask Jesus to heal his dying servant. Now, the Roman Empire was an occupying force in Israel, and the Jews of Jesus’ day weren’t overly fond of Roman authority. But the Jews had a certain amount of esteem and respect for the centurions, who commanded around 100 men. Centurions were not average soldiers. They were a cut above. And I think it’s clear from Luke 7 that this specific centurion who came to Jesus was a cut above other centurions.

For one thing, he had a very unusual attitude toward his slave. In Roman law, a slave was viewed as a “living tool.” One ancient teacher went so far as to say that in order to maintain an efficient home, at least once every year a master should get rid of all old and broken tools—including old and broken slaves.

But it’s clear that this centurion cared deeply for his servant and viewed him as a close friend or family member. And unlike most Romans of the day, it’s evident in verses 4 and 5 that this centurion was deeply religious. When the Jewish elders came to Jesus, they said, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue” (vs. 4-5). It’s one thing to say “I love Israel.” It’s quite another to put your money where your mouth is and bankroll the building of the synagogue in Capernaum.

And although the centurion was an important military leader, he was a humble man. When Jesus went to see him, the centurion sent friends ahead with the message, “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” (vs. 6-7a). Most impressively of all, he was a man of faith. He went on to say, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7b).

Unlike most people in Israel, the centurion knew how authority works. He knew, as a centurion, that he didn’t need to be physically present in every location where his orders were being carried out. He had 100 soldiers to carry out his orders miles away from where he himself stood. So, in simple childlike faith, the centurion reasoned that Jesus could do exactly the same thing. He didn’t need to be physically standing next to the servant in order to heal him. He didn’t even need to be in the same house. Jesus could simply say the word—to dispatch the order—and the servant would be healed.

This is one of only two times in Jesus’ life when we’re told that he was AMAZED: “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’” (v. 9). And Jesus was moved by the centurion’s faith. According to Matthew 8:13, his servant was healed at that very hour. The centurion’s simple, childlike faith moved the heart of Christ.

Jesus wasn’t impressed by the centurion’s power and authority. He was impressed by his faith and humility. And so it is with us. The heart of Christ is moved by our childlike faith and by our brokenness. Therefore, when we turn to Christ, there is always hope. When we put our hope in Jesus, even if our lousy circumstances don’t change, WE are changed in the midst of those lousy circumstances. Hope gives us a new lease on life. The centurion chose the path of hope, and it led him to say and do things that amazed even Jesus.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for church Sundays at 10 am.

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