The Faith of the Centurion

This Sunday we finally arrived at the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Luke. While to some it may appear we are progressing at a snail’s pace, it has been extremely enlightening to engross in the teachings and character of Jesus at such an in depth level. The more we learn of Jesus’ character the more we long to become like Him and the way to accomplish that becomes increasingly apparent.

This week we studied two stories in particular that shed much light on the heart of Jesus and what motivates Him to act on our behalf. While there are many qualities that motivate Christ to serve us, the two we analyzed in detail were faith and compassion. The first story was about the faith of a centurion. This struck a deeply resonant chord in my heart because I could identify as a prior service member and now as a military wife with this man’s understanding of authority and the significant role it plays in maintaining order and structure in all aspects of life. This centurion’s understanding of the philosophy surrounding the concept of authority was profound beyond belief; to the point that even Jesus was awed at the display of faith. While on one hand the Jewish elders sought to plead the merits of this centurion to no avail, the centurion himself professed unworthiness to even have a man of Jesus’ authority and stature set foot in his home. The centurion understood that in the physical realm where he had much authority, it was possible for him to accomplish much on the basis of his spoken word. He spoke and men complied with his requests. This provided for him a deeper glimpse into the nature of Jesus’ spiritual authority. He knew that if Jesus merely spoke the word, the principalities of darkness would be dealt with and that Jesus presence would not be necessary to accomplish such a thing. It was a stark contrast between the faith of this centurion and the typical clinging of the Jewish people and their continual demands for a sign to prove Jesus’ authority. I challenge you to chew on this story and break open new meanings that can serve as methods of exemplifying your own faith in the true power of Jesus’ word and His authority which awaits unleashing if we only believe.

The second story we discussed was a story of Jesus raising a widow’s son from the dead. The most evident contrast between this story and that of the centurion was that no one asked Jesus for anything; Jesus entered a city and was moved by compassion for this weeping widow. (I cannot help but wonder if perhaps through His spiritual insight, Jesus witnessed the agony of His own mother as she would shortly be put through the ordeal of losing a son.) The sheer magnitude of this miracle astounds me beyond measure. Often we assume that when our fruitfulness dies, that this is the end of our productivity and depression can set in and steal the joy in our life. But what we witness in this miracle is that the immense resurrection power of Christ can infuse us with new life when we least expect it. The widow in this story had most probably resigned herself to her future as a beggar. With both the loss of husband and only son, her chances of being provided for were slim. Her hope in a future had died that day. Jesus who is representative of all we hope for in life, brought this widow’s hope of a future back to life. It is a powerful story of the spark of new life that Jesus can bring to us every day we exist through Him.

As we are faced with the Christmas season this year, may we be more aware of the hope and power Christ’s arrival on earth meant for our own future. May we more acutely grasp the affects our faith and compassion can have in serving others.  It is our hope and prayer that in this season more individuals would become aware of the life that is Christ and the resurrecting power He has, and desires to exemplify on our behalf as He brings new life to our innermost being.