Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Response of Faith

"When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum" (Luke 7:1).

Let’s now return to Luke’s gospel and look at how he presents the impact of Jesus’ kingdom sermon. Luke follows the sermon with the story of the faith of the centurion. By connecting the two stories, he makes it clear that Jesus’ presentation of the kingdom is supposed to elicit faith on the part of the people. When Jesus praises the centurion’s faith (v. 9), He is showing the people how they also are to respond to Him.

In Capernaum, a Roman centurion (like a captain in the army today) asked some of the Jewish elders to contact Jesus. The centurion’s servant was dying, and he hoped Jesus might heal him. The Jewish elders reported that this man believed in God and had assisted the Jews in many ways, even building them a synagogue.

As Jesus approached the man’s house, however, the centurion evidently became somewhat embarrassed at the thought of so great a person coming into his home and sent to Jesus these words: “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. But say the word, and my servant will be healed” (vv. 6–7).

Luke focuses on the faith of the centurion, not on the miracle of healing. Matthew tells us more about this story (Matthew 8:5–13), but Luke focuses on one thing only: “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’ ” (v. 9).

The faith Jesus praised was characterized by humility. Many of the Jews had recognized Jesus’ great abilities as a healer and a teacher, but the centurion recognized Jesus’ authority. As the centurion said, “I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me” (v. 8). True faith is humble submission to the authority of the King.

There are false views of faith in the church today. One is that faith is mere belief, without submission to Christ’s authority. Even the Roman centurion understood that faith necessarily implies obedience. Resist those who would teach or practice a divorce of faith and corresponding submission to Christ.