“‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9
The story of the healing of the centurion’s slave is notable for what does not happen, it is fascinating to read of what is not done: Jesus does not meet the centurion, Jesus does not go to the centurion’s house; Jesus does not need to say a word to heal the slave.
The centurion does not attempt to meet with Jesus, he does not think himself worthy of such a meeting, instead he asks the local Jewish leaders to go to speak for him. Saint Luke Chapter 7 Verse 3 tells us, “When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave.” The centurion is an officer in the Roman army, he is not Jewish, but he is obviously a man with a deep respect for the Jewish faith and, in return, he is held in great respect by the local Jewish community. Verses 4-5 say, “When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.'”
Without needing to meet Jesus, the centurion knows about Jesus and believes Jesus has the power to change the situation. The Jewish leaders testify to the faith of the centurion.
The centurion’s faith is a challenge to us. He does not feel worthy of meeting Jesus, but without all the knowledge that we have, he knows and believes. Have we the faith to know and believe as the centurion did? The Jewish leaders hold the centurion in such high regard, that they go to speak on his behalf, would people respect us for our faith?
Jesus does not meet the centurion, but twenty centuries later we remember the centurion’s faith.
Jesus did not meet with the centurion and nor did Jesus go to the centurion’s house. The centurion is emphatic that Jesus does not need to come to his house, he sends his friends to take a message. In Verses 6-7, we read, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you.” The centurion does not need to have the physical presence of Jesus in his house in order to be aware of the power of Jesus. He thinks himself unworthy of having Jesus under his roof, he thinks that he is troubling Jesus by asking for his intervention, but he knows there is a spiritual presence that will change things.
Without needing to have Jesus come through the door, the centurion is aware of Jesus’ presence. The centurion challenges us, have we a sense of Jesus present with us? Have we the confidence that even though we do not see him, as the centurion did not see him, there is a spiritual presence with us as there was with the centurion?
Jesus does not go to the centurion’s house, but twenty centuries later we remember the power of his presence in that house.
Jesus did not meet the centurion, Jesus does not go to the centurion’s house, and Saint Luke does not record Jesus as saying any word to make the slave well. The message brought to Jesus by the centurion’s friends said, in Verse 7, “But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.” The centurion knows in his heart that all will be well, that Jesus has the authority to heal, the message carried by his friends said, in Verse 8, “For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go’, and he goes, and to another, ‘Come’, and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this’, and the slave does it.” Jesus is amazed at the man’s faith, at the man’s confidence, in Verse 9 he turns to the crowd and says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” No word is spoken, but we read in Verse 10, “When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.”
Would we have such faith in Jesus in our own hearts? Would we have faith so strong that Jesus does not even need to say the word for the situation to be changed? Had we been in the centurion’s place, what difference would our faith have made?
Jesus does not speak the word, but twenty centuries later we remember the power of that word to heal.
No meeting, no visit, no word, but the presence of Jesus throughout the story and the power of Jesus bringing life from death. Have we faith in that presence and that power to be with us and to change our own lives?