Luke 7:1-9 (ESV)
After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum.  Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.  When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.  And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him,  for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”  And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “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. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.  For I too 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 servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  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.”
There are many things that can be said from this text, so we limit ourselves to four small observations. They have to do with the qualities of real faith in Jesus and the Jesus who is worthy of such faith. The centurion in this story is commended by Jesus for a faith that does not exist even among the people of Israel.
1) Humility – The centurion has real humility when it comes to Jesus and asking Jesus for a favour. In verse 6 he says, through his servants, that he is not worthy to even come in person and ask Jesus to come and heal his servant. But there is another way he demonstrates real humility. He comes to Jesus for help. Faith in Jesus Christ means coming to the realization that we are completely incapable and He is able to do whatever He pleases. The centurion knows he is powerless. But he also knows that Jesus is all powerful. There is no such thing as proud faith and when a person can look at himself and get puffed up, and look at others and feel superior, then you can be sure that he is not looking up with a sense of inability.
2)Need – the centurion has a need. Faith in Jesus Christ comes to Him in desperate need. It starts with repentance and salvation. And it continues in a life marked by repentance and dependence. But again, this sense of need is not a morose feeling of uselessness. It is a realization that while I cannot meet the needs of my soul, Jesus Christ most certainly can. This faith has real joy because its hope is firmly set on that which will not disappoint. The issue is never how much we are able to do. The issue is always what can Jesus do for me. He starts by meeting the biggest need of all, our need for forgiveness and eternal life. It goes on from there with the meeting of real needs throughout our whole life. We are needy. He is more than able and lovingly willing to answer our calls to Him offered in real faith.
3)Acknowledgment of Jesus – We hear much about the need for faith, but the real issue is where our faith is placed. The centurion could have sent his servants to the Pharisees to have his servant healed but he would have been sent away with a servant still sick. Faith is not a magic formula for getting things done. Faith is trusting the supreme power to do what only He can. Tied to this is the acknowledgment that Jesus is who He really is. Believing in Jesus demands believing right things about Him. If you believe Jesus is a plumber on Davenport Road you do not have real faith. If you believe Jesus is just a man you do not have real faith. If you believe He is the first of all created beings, you do not have real faith. Jesus Christ is the eternal, uncreated, sovereign Ruler who came into the world as a human being. The centurion acknowledges Jesus supreme authority and that is where our faith must begin.
4)Call – And finally, the centurion calls out to Jesus for help. Saying you believe that Jesus can help you and refusing to call to Him and ask Him to help is a statement that you do not believe at all. Faith must be expressed. It consists of dependence that leans hard upon its God and is marked by prayer.
This is Christian faith. It is not all that faith is but it certainly is not less. The emphasis of this account in the life of Jesus is about a man who had great faith. But it is more about the One who is worthy of all faith. The centurion was not sent away empty and neither are we.