Tuesday, 27 April 2021
Title: A Centurion’s Extraordinary Faith
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳
Matthew 8:10 “When Jesus heard this, He was amazed and said to those following Him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.’”
There are only two instances of faith which was described as “great” by our Lord Jesus, both of which were demonstrated by Gentiles – firstly, that of the Roman centurion whose servant was healed by Jesus and secondly, that of the Canaanite woman whose demon-possessed daughter was also healed by Jesus (Matthew 15:28).
A centurion was a key officer in the armies of ancient Rome who was responsible for 100 soldiers – a man of substantial authority and power. Jesus’ miraculous healing of a centurion’s servant is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. What stands out in both accounts is the centurion’s exceptional humility. He did not even view himself as worthy enough to speak directly with Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews and at a later stage, his friends, to ask Jesus to come and heal his paralysed servant.
When Jesus approached the centurion’s house, the centurion himself pleaded with Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). These words were probably some of the most humble and moving words ever spoken by a Roman to a Jew in those days. This was a powerful Roman centurion, speaking to a simple Jewish carpenter’s son, calling Him “Lord”!
Yet another praiseworthy trait of the centurion was his deep respect for Jesus’ authority. As a man of authority, the centurion believed that disease had to obey Christ’s bidding just as he had to obey his superior officers in the military hierarchy and those under his authority had to obey him. This centurion seemed blessed with spiritual discernment and recognized Jesus as one in possession of great spiritual authority who would be able to accomplish miraculous deeds by merely speaking the word!
This centurion was friendly to the Jews and had even built a synagogue for them. Possibly, the Jews had shared with him many stories about Jesus. Obviously he had heard much about how the miracles had been performed. And there seemed to be a recurring theme in all the miracles – the power of Jesus’ words!
The centurion would have heard: that in the calming of the storm, Jesus had said, “Quiet! Be still!” and the storm ceased (Mark 4:35-41); that in the healing of the demon-possessed man, Jesus had said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” and the evil spirit was cast out from the demoniac (Mark 1:23-28); that in the healing of the leper, Jesus had merely touched him and said, “Be clean!” and the leper was cleansed (Matthew 8:1-4); that in the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain, Jesus had said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” And the dead man sat up and began to talk! (Luke 7:11-17)
And so the seed of faith in the centurion must have been planted and stirred up by his having heard the stories of so many miraculous acts accomplished by a simple word of command from Jesus.
Why did Jesus describe that spark of faith as “great”? Firstly, it was great when we consider in whom this faith was found. This Gentile’s faith was more perceptive and sensitive than any that Jesus had seen in Israel. In Luke 7:3, it is mentioned that when the centurion “heard” about Jesus, he had already believed that Jesus had power to heal his servant. Hence he sent to Jesus, elders of the Jews asking Jesus to come and heal his servant. The Jews, on the other hand, had witnessed countless miracles of Jesus with their own eyes, yet all they did was to wonder who Jesus was! Worse, some had accused Him of casting out demons by the power of the devil! (Matthew 12:24)
Secondly, the centurion’s faith is great because he believed healing could take place without Jesus having to be bodily present, thus surpassing the faith even of Martha and Mary who thought Jesus had to be present to heal their brother Lazarus (John 11:21,32). Because God is omnipresent, there is no such thing as distance when it comes to God. Since Jesus is God, distance is no barrier to Him. So when He said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would”, the servant was healed even as Jesus spoke the words!
Immediately after speaking the healing words, Jesus issued a stern warning to the Jews. In Matthew 8:11-12, He warned them about the belief at that time that they were right with God simply because they were born Jews, since Jews were the chosen people of God. Jesus told the Jews that many will come from the east and west (i.e. outside the Jewish nation of Israel) and they will have a place in the kingdom of heaven, while those trusting in their ancestry will be cast into outer darkness.
Ancestry has nothing to do with salvation. The kingdom of heaven is for those who have personally put their faith and trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. It is hoped that when the time comes for us to be judged, Jesus the righteous Judge of the world will commend us as people of SUCH GREAT FAITH!
Lord Jesus, we praise You for You are our God who has dominion over diseases, demons, nature and even death. Many of us have heard about You and have decided to follow You. Some of us, however, have heard and have yet to decide to trust in You as Lord and Saviour. Whatever the category we belong to, we all know how much money we have in the bank, but none of us knows how much time we have left on this earth. May Your Spirit enable us, in the time that we still have, to be men and women of great faith, following the example of the centurion. Thank You for hearing our prayer, Amen.
只有两个实例被我们的主耶稣描述为 “这么大” 的信心，而两个都是外邦人所展示 – 第一个是罗马百夫长，他的仆人被耶稣医治了；第二个则是迦南妇人，她的女儿被鬼附也被耶稣医治了(马太福音15:28)。
百夫长是古罗马军队里主要的军官，他负责100名士兵 – 一个拥有实质权威和权力的人。耶稣治好百夫长仆人的神迹，记载在马太福音8:5-13和路加7:1-10里。这两个记载突显了百夫长异常的谦卑。他甚至认为自己不配与耶稣直接交谈，托了几个犹太人的长老，而后又托了几个朋友，求耶稣医治他瘫痪的仆人。
这位百夫长对犹太人友善，甚至为他们建了会堂。也许，犹太人与他分享了许多关于耶稣的故事。显然，他已听了许多关于神迹是如何发生的；而在所有的神迹中似乎都有一个反复出现的主题 – 耶稣话语的力量！
百夫长会听过：在平静风浪的神迹里，耶稣说：“住了吧！静了吧！” 风就止住 （马可福音4:35-41）；在医治被污鬼附的人的神迹里，耶稣说：“不要作声！从这人身上出来吧！” 邪灵就从被污鬼附着的人身上驱逐出来（马可福音1:23-28）；在医治长大麻风的神迹里，耶稣只是摸他说：“你洁净了吧！” 那长大麻风的就洁净了（马太福音8:1-4）；使拿因城寡妇的儿子复活的神迹里，耶稣说：“少年人，我吩咐你起来！” 死人就坐起，并且说话！（路加福音7:11-17）
为什么耶稣形容那信心的星火为 “这么大” 呢？首先，当我们思想是谁有这信心的时候，便可见这信心是大的。相对于耶稣在以色列所见过的，这外邦人的信心是更具洞察力且更敏锐。在路加福音7:3里提到，当百夫长 “风闻” 关于耶稣的事，他就已经相信耶稣有能力医治他的仆人。于是他托犹太人长老求耶稣来医治他的仆人。另一方面，犹太人亲眼见证了耶稣无数的神迹，但他们只是想知道耶稣到底是谁！更糟糕的是，有人指控祂靠着魔鬼的力量赶鬼！（马太福音12:24)
血统与救恩无关。天国是给那些相信耶稣是主和救主的人。所盼望的是当到了我们被审判的时候，世界公义的审判官耶稣将会称赞我们为有 大信心 的人。