Monday, November 23, 2009
When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." (Luke 7:9).
This is the story of the Roman centurion in Capernaum who had a servant who was at the point of death. The Jewish elders of Capernaum thought very highly of this man. He was a friend to the Jews, and was responsible for building (funding no doubt) the synagogue there. Because of this, they came to Jesus and asked him to heal this man's servant. So Jesus went with them. During this time the centurion decided that he was unworthy to even have Jesus step inside his house, so he sent friends to request that Jesus just say the words, that his servant be healed.
This man, who probably did not know much of the Jewish faith before he was sent to Capernaum, believed that Jesus was who he said he was, which meant that he had authority. This man understood authority. He knew that Jesus could speak, and things would happen. Luke tells us that Jesus marveled at this, saying that he had not seen this kind of faith in any Israelite. The servant was healed.
Most of the time this Greek word for "marveled" is used is in reference to the crowd's response to something that Jesus does, but there are two stories where Jesus is the one doing the marveling. Both have to do with faith, but they are very different. The first takes place in Mark 6. Here we see the people in Nazareth, Jesus' hometown, refusing to believe that Joseph's son could be the Messiah. Here Jesus marvels at their unbelief. They still haven't gotten it. But in this passage, he is marveled by this man's faith. This has always intrigued me. I get that Jesus can marvel at my lack of faith. I see it throughout the Gospels, and I see it played out in my life over and over. It seems that unbelief happens so frequently in all of our lives. So when this man showed tremendous faith in Jesus, it's almost as if it's unexpected to Jesus. He marvels at it. I love this part of Jesus' humanity. I'm sure it brought him tremendous joy to see this Roman centurion express faith like this. And it gets me to wondering if my faith ever marvels Jesus.
May I walk by faith and not by sight, Lord. I know that it will be tricky, I know that it will be uncomfortable, and I know that it will take courage. But I pray that it is pleasing to You (Hebrews 11:6).