Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-17
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!’” – Matthew 8:10 NLT
I would venture to say that it would take a lot to amaze Jesus. After all, He is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, and the creator of the world. He has literally seen it all. But in this story we read that Jesus was amazed. At what? The faith of an unnamed Roman officer. The Greek word used here for amazed means that Jesus was astounded, astonished – literally stunned by what He heard. Consider the source. This man was a Gentile – a non-Jew. On top of that, he was a Roman citizen. And to make matters even more astonishing – he was a Roman officer. Yet this man had what most of the Jews didn’t have: believing faith. Luke tells us this man was a good man who had been kind to the Jews under his jurisdiction, even helping pay to have a synagogue built for them. He was so well respected by the Jews, that they sent a delegation of their elders to seek out Jesus on his behalf. And interestingly enough, the reason this man was wanting Jesus’ help was because he had a SLAVE who was sick and hear death. Obviously, this man was a compassionate person who cared for those under his authority. He was more than just a leader of men. He was a servant leader who modeled many of the very characteristics Jesus had just taught about. “Do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27 NLT). “Do to others as you would like them to do to you” (Luke 6:31 NLT). “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:35 NLT). “You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36 NLT). “Give, and you will receive” (Luke 6:38 NLT).
Jesus was amazed at this man’s faith. As a Gentile and a Roman officer, there was no reason this man should have had any thought of turning to Jesus for help. But his need drove him there. His heart of compassion and his desire to love others, but his inability to help his servant, drove him to seek out Jesus. And he knew that Jesus could help him. He sensed that Jesus had the power and authority to solve his problem. He also knew that he was unworthy of the help for which he was asking. He told Jesus, “I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you” (Luke 7:6-7 NLT). What humility. What faith. What awareness of his situation. This man was illustrating exactly the attitude Jesus was seeking from His own people, the Jews. But He sadly states, “I haven’t seen faith this in all Israel!” (Luke 7:9 NLT).
This man’s faith amazed Jesus. It amazes me. And I believe it stunned the people in Jesus’ audience that day, including His disciples. Even they would struggle believing the way this man did. They would doubt and struggle with faith over the next few years, even as they walked alongside Jesus and watched Him do miracle after miracle. And I can be guilty of the same thing in my life. The key to faith is humility and a recognition of need. Faith requires reliance and dependence. It is based on an inner assurance that Jesus can and will help. He has the power. He has the authority. He has the desire. He just needs to be asked.
Father, I want my faith to be amazing faith. I want my reliance on You to be complete, not partial. I want to turn to You and rely on You, faithfully. Give me amazing faith like the man in this story. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men