When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 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.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
– Luke 7:1-10
This devotional series examines four biblical truths that we can learn from each of the men in the above text as well as the group of men, or elders. First, we learned that, spiritually, we are sick and dying. In addition, we learned that God loves us. Next, we discovered that religion makes God a debtor. Now, let’s consider what we learn from two other men—Jesus and the centurion.
Verse 6 states, “So Jesus went with them.” After hearing the plea of these religious elders, Jesus chose to go with them. Why? Because God looks not at the outward appearance of man, but at the heart. The reason Jesus went with them was not because of their earnest appeals, but because He saw something in the heart of the centurion. The elders came dressed in their fine robes and clerical collars. People bowed down to them with great respect. The elders had seats of honor at big events.
But God sees through the façade of our outer clothing. He sees what man cannot see with the naked eye. He sees into the heart of man. What does God see when He looks into your heart?
Man-made religion is concerned with the outer man; however, Christianity is concerned with the inner man. Real Christianity is all about the heart. John 2:24 states, “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” 1 Samuel 16:7 states, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Jesus looked at the heart of the centurion and liked what He saw.
Now let’s consider the centurion. He centurion lived in Capernaum, a small fishing village on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. As the name implies, a centurion was the commander of one hundred Roman soldiers. They were chosen for their leadership ability, and they were the backbone of the Roman army. A Roman centurion was a man’s man, a leader’s leader, and a soldier’s soldier. The New Testament uses the word “centurion” twenty-one times, always in a positive light. The most notable passage about one of these Roman military leaders is found in Mark 15:39 when the centurion watched Jesus die and exclaimed, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
The centurion in Luke 7 had a slave whom he esteemed highly, and this was very uncommon. In the Roman Empire, slaves had no rights. But this was no ordinary centurion; he loved his servants and cared for them. Moreover, he loved the people of Israel and even built a synagogue for them with his own money. Clearly he had a deep reverence for the things of God.
We also see that this centurion was a very humble man. When Jesus was just a short distance from his house, the centurion sent friends with a message for Jesus. “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for 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.” The centurion knew that Jews were not supposed to come into the house of a Gentile. According to law, a Jew who entered the house of a Gentile ceremonially defiled himself. This centurion did not want to put Jesus into a difficult position. Furthermore, the centurion may have simply felt that he was far too sinful to be in the presence of a godly man like Jesus.
At this point, we don’t really know what this centurion believed about Jesus. However, we do know that this centurion, like Cornelius in Acts 10, was a devout, God-fearing man. He believed in one God and respected the moral and ethical teachings of the Jews. But Jesus saw something deeper in the heart of this centurion. Jesus saw something that truly amazed Him: faith.
From this one man, we learn what it takes to amaze Jesus. The Bible makes it clear that God is attracted to humble faith! This centurion essentially said to Jesus: “Just say the word, and it will be done!” What amazing faith! Verse 9 states, “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.’”
This centurion believed like no one else in all of Israel, and because of his amazing faith, Jesus was going to bless him. Verse 10 states, “Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.”
Do you know what Jesus wants to see in you and me? A humble faith! A broken spirit! A contrite heart! Someone once said that all God really wants is to be believed. Do you want to see God bless your life?
I believe this centurion became a true follower of Jesus after he saw what Jesus did. I also believe he became a centurion for God and a fisher of men. Do you want to be a fisher of men?
Then let’s return to the initial question: “Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?”
That is the question the recruiter asked Rich Stearns on the phone that day. Stearns said that, in that moment, he recalled what he had said to his wife twenty years earlier: “As long as there are starving children in the world, we are not going to spend our money on frivolous things like crystal, china and silver.” Now his words came back to him as God spoke to him and said, “Rich, do you remember that young man? Do you remember how passionate he was to serve me and care for my children around the world? If you remember that man and if you are still that man, then I have a job I’d like for you to do.” Though he was still skeptical, in the end, Stearns agreed to have dinner with the recruiter, and the rest is history. He now says, “Years later, I look at that decision and now I know the incredible blessings that God had in store for me.”
Stearns encourages us with this prayer: “Say this, ‘Lord, if you want to take what’s in my hands, take it. And replace it with something far better.’”
Do you want to truly amaze Jesus? Then you must trust Him with your life!
In David Platt’s new book, Follow Me, he says “‘Follow me,’ Jesus calls—two simple words that change everything. You will never be bored. You will always have purpose. You will never lack joy. But it will cost you. It is a summons to lose your life.”
What does it take to amaze Jesus? It takes a humble faith and a heart that is willing to say, “Yes Lord, I will follow.”