Faith and the Centurion

Two teenagers asked me whether there was more likelihood of our prayers being answered if we had more faith.

That has sent us all on a voyage of discovery….

We all, I am sure, remember Jesus’ encounter with the centurion who asked Him to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:2-10).

In both accounts the centurion shows awareness of the problems entering the house of a Gentile could cause Jesus and so asks Him to just speak out a word of healing.

He makes a very interesting statement, saying, “ I also am a man under authority … and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes.” (Matthew 8:9 NASB)

Did you notice something? He didn’t say, “I am a man in authority” but rather, “I am a man under authority.”

He had the power of the whole Roman army behind him. If a centurion said, “Jump!” a soldier would say, “How high?”

The centurion recognizes that Jesus is under the authority of the Father and that therefore He has the authority to simply speak out a command of healing.

Again the “living word of Christ “ is relevant (see Romans 10:17).

Jesus is amazed and says that He has not seen such great faith with anyone in Israel.

So it would seem at first sight that faith can be quantified.

The centurion had the faith to know that if Jesus uttered the command, his servant would be healed. But he still had to ask. I suppose Jesus could have said “No.”

In the time of His earthly ministry He seems never to have said “No” to anyone.

Does He ever say “No” to us?

Well, I suppose if He never did, then no-one would ever die, right?

But of course death is a healing if we are in Christ.

There are some things we will never understand this side of heaven but what we can know is that all authority in heaven and earth is given to Jesus and if He utters a command, then it will happen.

When my wife died of cancer nine years ago, I was subsequently tormented by the thought that if I had had “more” faith, she would have been healed.

That, I discovered, was a lie from the pit of hell.