Jesus Marveled

| April 6, 2014

African American Studying the Bible at HomeWho are the people who really impressed Jesus Christ? In Luke Chapter 7 is the account of man whose faith was so great that we read “Jesus marveled.”

It happened in Capernaum, when a centurion’s servant was sick and ready to die. The Centurion sent Elders of the Jews to Jesus, who pleaded that He come and heal the servant, for the Centurion loved Israel and had built them a synagogue.

Jesus went with them, but while He was on the way, the Centurion sent friends to Him, saying “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. … But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

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.

Does it seem strange that the Lord Jesus Christ marveled – that He was amazed, astonished; and taken aback? We commonly say that nothing ever took Jesus by surprise. But here it is.  Jesus Christ marveled.

What caused Jesus to marvel was the faith of the Centurion.

Interestingly, there are Elders of the Jews who come to Jesus and ask Him to heal the Centurion’s servant. They certainly also exercise faith, and Jesus responds to their faith. Jesus went with them; and doubtless He would have arrived and done the miracle as they prayed Him to do.

Jesus honored their faith. But Jesus did not marvel at their faith.

Jesus marveled at the faith of the Centurion, and said that he had great faith — faith He had not found anywhere else.

This Centurion was an accomplished man – he had risen to a command position over the local garrison of soldiers. But Jesus did not marvel at his accomplishments.

He was a man of energy and achievement — he had built a synagogue. But Jesus did not marvel at his achievements or his energy.

He was a man of compassion, who cared about his servants. He was a good man, who loved Israel. But Jesus does not marvel at his compassion or his goodness. What caused Jesus to marvel was his faith.

I think that most of my Christian life is lived in faith like that of the Elders of the Jews, faith that has confidence that Jesus can and will do good things that I ask. Certainly, this is a faith that Jesus honors. But obviously, there is something more – there is something different in the Centurion’s faith.

How can I learn to have faith like that, and how can I live in faith like that?

A number of things quickly suggest themselves.

This Centurion asked Jesus for something very big. He asked Jesus to heal his servant who “was sick and was ready to die.” Jesus had healed the sick before, but this was the first time anyone asked Jesus to snatch someone from death itself.

The magnitude of faith is important, because Jesus Christ responds to people according to their faith: According  to your  faith  let it be to you. Matthew 9: 29

The Elders asked Jesus to come to the house, and when they asked Him to come, He came. He responded to the measure of their faith.

The first thing that makes the faith of the Centurion so great is that he is able to ask the Lord for something bigger, something that to us seems harder.  Lord, you do not have to come – just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

Again, Jesus responded to the measure of faith before Him. There is another account of this in Matthew’s Gospel, in which Jesus responded to the Centurion as you have believed, so let it be done for you. Matthew 8:13.

We should each grow in the magnitude of our faith. We should expect bigger things from the Lord than what we do.  We should ask bigger things of the Lord than we do.

Jesus said that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we could move a mountain. Peter walked with Jesus on the water, and when they got back in the boat, Jesus called him a man of little faith. If a little faith can cause you to walk on water; and the faith of a mustard seed will cast a mountain into the sea, what will great faith do?

But even more than the seeming audacity of this faith that asks great things, I submit that Jesus is particularly impressed by the understanding and the clarity of thought of the Centurion.

The Centurion is a man who extends his faith into his life with impeccable logic.

He does not ask Jesus for a sign, to prove that He is the Lord. Some people require signs and wonders and daily occurrences in order to boost their faith.  But not him.

Some people say that they believe in Jesus Christ, and then act like this was all a pious fiction that we do on Sundays. But not him.

Some people agonize over whether they should come to Jesus, or how they should come, or what they should say, or how religious they should be. The Centurion is none of that.

What he does is to extend out his faith according to reason then live accordingly. What he says is this:

I am a man under authority. I have a commander above me, and I am given soldiers under me, and they follow my orders. If I want something done somewhere, I do not go myself, but I give the command, and it is done.

Now Christ is also a man under authority.  Jesus would say this command I have received from my Father.  He is commissioned by God for a great work, which has taken Him to Capernaum. For that mission, He is equipped with authority. Indeed, Jesus would say All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth. Therefore, if Jesus wants something done, He does not need to go Himself.

If I can give a command, and something be done in another place, then surely Jesus can do so. Say the word, and my servant will be healed.

His faith is almost business-like.  His faith is matter-of-fact; not that it is trivial, but it is pervasive in his life. He accepts the claims of Christ, and everything else flows from there.

The Elders of the Jews had faith, they understand that Jesus can do this miracle of healing, and they plead with Him to do it. But their prayer sounds a lot like my prayers often do:  Lord, here is a problem – the servant is sick.  I’d like to proposed a solution – You should go and heal him.  The solution makes sense to me and it has a lot to recommend it – it will solve the problem and the Centurion is a good man.  Lord, all things considered, I think You should do this.

I wonder if we are sometimes stuck at this level not because we come to Christ with the questions and problems (often we are good at that), but because we come to Christ with the answers. They are usually good answers and good solutions, and they make good sense to us.

But I have more than once been amazed, and humbled, when I have frankly run out of solutions to propose, and then seen what the Lord has done.

More than once, I have been left with the feeling that the Lord was waiting for me to run out solutions and ideas and proposals (and it takes me a long time to run out ideas and proposals) so that He can show what He will do.  And I am humbled that I am such a slow learner.

In Luke 7: 9, when Jesus says I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel it sounds like He expected to find it in Israel.  He expected His people to think like this, to understand like this, to live like this.

We read in I Corinthians 12 that there is a spiritual gift of faith. When we see it exercised, it looks a lot like this. It goes beyond a confidence that God can do the solutions we propose, and it goes to an unshakeable confidence in the Lord Himself.

I wonder if Jesus still marvels at men and women of faith, who believe great things, who understand clearly, and who walk humbly with their God. Maybe He does. If so, that is the man I want to be.


Category: Faith

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Email | Website | Thomas Schetelich is a founding principal in the law firm of Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew in Baltimore, Maryland, and a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar. He heads both the firm’s corporate/ business law practice and its personal legal services department. He is an AV rated attorney awarded for highest standards of professional skill and ethical practice. Mr. Schetelich devotes much of his practice to assisting charitable and religious organizations, and is the President of The Christian Professional Network. He is a frequent speaker on Biblical and legal matters throughout the United States.