The Faith of the Centurion
1When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6So Jesus went with them.
The centurion had an unusual attitude towards his slave. Under Roman law, a master had the right to kill his slave, and it was expected that he would do so if the slave became ill or injured to the point where he could not work.
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. 7That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For 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.”
Psalm 146:5 (NLT)
Joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
9When 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.” 10Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son
11Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
Psalm 142:3 (NRSV)
When my spirit is faint, you know my way.
14Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Psalm 30:11 (NLT)
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing!
16They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” 17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus and John the Baptist
18John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
20When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ ”
Why does John ask this question, especially after all the miraculous signs that would demonstrate this to him? Weren’t all the prophecies through his father Zacharias (Luke 1:13-17 and 1:67-80) and the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:21-22) enough proof?
Matthew tells us that John asked this question from prison (Matthew 11:2-3). Even John the Baptist probably had some misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission, and thought: “If He really is who I thought He is, why am I in prison?” John probably asked this question because of discouragement in prison.
“John was already in prison, and things began to appear incomprehensible to him. He had expected that Christ would speedily destroy the powers of darkness and judge the unrighteous. But instead of doing this, He leaves him, His forerunner, helpless in prison.” (Geldenhuys)
It is often the same with us. Our discouraging circumstances often cause us to forget or doubt who Jesus is.
21At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 23Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
–Luke 7:23 (King James Version)
All of us are sometimes troubled by questions. Why is the secret of healing not opened more fully? Why is that key not put into wise and loving hands? Why does He whose touch has not lost its ancient power not come immediately and touch and heal? Why have the wicked such awful power? Why are we ourselves sometimes like the little ship on the sea of Galilee beaten by the winds? And even after we have heard our dear Lord’s Peace, be still, why is it that there is not always instantly a great calm, a lasting calm? Why do the winds return again?
We could go on forever, piling question on question. Why? Why? Why?
But faith is not “trusting God when we understand his ways” — there is no need for faith then. Faith is trusting when nothing is explained. Faith rests under the Unexplained. Faith enters into the deep places of our Lord’s words, And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me. Faith, having entered into those deep places, stays there in peace.
24After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27This is the one about whom it is written:
” ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
28I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
29(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)
31“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:
” ‘We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not cry.’
33For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ 35But wisdom is proved right by all her children.
Reflections on wisdom:
Wisdom is not proven by argument or debate. Wisdom is proven over time.
–Henry T. Blackaby
There are four kinds of people:
Those who know not, and know not that they know not. These are foolish, and should be avoided.
Those who know not, and know they know not. These are the simple, and should be instructed.
Those who know, and know not that they know. These are asleep; wake them.
Those who know, and know they know. These are the wise; listen to them.
Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
–Psalm 111:10 (NLT)
HERE is “Faith Is the Victory,” sung by the Fountainview Academy Choir, from British Columbia, Canada.