What Great Faith Can Do
Jesus is not impressed with our positions or possessions. He is not astonished by how many scriptures we can quote, how beautifully we sing or how many good works we do. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we see HE is the worthy one, not us. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is. 64:6), it is not earned, it is given to us through Christ. But we can make Him marvel.
In Matthew chapter seven we see the one and only encounter in the Bible that made Jesus marvel, and it was a mere man. Not even a religious man, but a Centurion, a Roman soldier. There were three specific things I believe made all the difference in this situation, three things that made Jesus turn to the crowd and marvel, “When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel” (Luke 7:9)!
This centurion soldier who amazed our Lord had great love, great humility and great faith.
This centurion soldier had great love for his country, the church and his servant who was sick. That is the first thing we’re told in the story (that his servant was dear to him), and the first thing the elders pointed out, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue” (v. 5). They were trying to convince Jesus to go heal the soldier’s servant because this man had such love for their country, Israel, and, even though he was not a Jew, he had built them a synagogue. It should speak volumes of his great love that the Jewish elders were even willing to go speak on his behalf.
This man also possessed great humility. The closer Jesus got to him, the soldier realized he was not worthy for Jesus to come to his house. He sent word saying, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You” (v.6-7). Here is a man, a leader among the Roman army, a Centurion who has hundreds of men serving under his authority. A man who has apparent means to help build a synagogue. A man who has devoted his life to service. And still he sees Jesus approaching and is humbled enough to say, Stop! I’m not worthy of you to enter my house.
Perhaps more importantly than all—or perhaps not, perhaps it was the powerful combination of his love, humility and faith, not one being enough without the other—the Centurion soldier had great faith. He said, Jesus, you don’t even have to come to my house to see the sick servant. Just say the word, and I know he will be healed! “But say the word, and my servant will be healed (v. 7).” This “non-religious” man knew the power of Jesus. He knew Christ had a divinity that could not be denied. He believed with a whisper the servant would raise up, if that’s what Jesus said. He had great, undeniable faith.
Can you imagine, God in the skin of a human, veiled in flesh, was so moved, not by a preacher, not by a disciple, not by a rabbi, not by a scholar of the Torah, not by someone who performed great miracles, but by this Roman soldier. A mere person made God Almighty in the flesh marvel. His love made Jesus marvel. His humility was astonishing. His great faith made Jesus stand in awe.
There is nothing else in the universe. Nothing under God’s creation that the Bible ever said made Him marvel besides this person. Humankind. Created in His own image. Designed to be His friend, to commune with Him, to worship Him … with the gift to make him marvel.
Many times our prayers begin the opposite of this soldier’s. We can’t understand why God hasn’t answered our prayers because, “Look at all the things we’ve done!” We plead with Jesus because we’ve tithed on a regular basis, we never miss church, we’ve raised our kids right, we follow all the rules … but keeping the discipline of faith is not what makes us worthy. It’s faith itself. I think of I Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” We’ve always been taught this. We know it’s not our actions that get God’s attention, it’s our attitude, our heart.
This servant was sick, on his deathbed, and the Centurion probably thought there was no changing the situation. Maybe he thought too much time has passed, what can happen now? I’m sure you’ve been there. What prayer are you waiting on God to answer? How long have you been seeking Him to show up at your own house? It may look like the last hour … but He can still come through!
You can make God marvel. Your love, your humility, your faith can astonish God. When you believe His Word above what you see, and more than what you feel, God marvels at you. Seas parting, a donkey talking, a man coming out of the belly of a whale, and God did not marvel. An ax head floating in the Jordan, a bush burning and booming with a voice in the wilderness, water coming out of rocks, and God was not astonished. But when a mere man—not even a religious man—humbled himself and believed in the power of Jesus Christ above what his natural eye could see and his heavy heart could feel, Jesus marveled … and He answered his request.