When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. – Matthew 8:10
We are amazed by Jesus, but perhaps not amazed often enough. The Gospel of John suggests that there aren’t enough books in the world that could contain what Jesus did (John 21:25).
So if someone of that repute is said to have been “amazed” Himself, we should stop and take notice. In fact, only two times is Jesus said to have been amazed and the other time was not in a positive light (Mark 6:6). But read either account of the centurion (Matthew 8 and Luke 7) and you’ll find at least three things that stand out about this man: love, humility, and faith. Now any of these on their own can serve as encouragement to us, but in conjunction with one another, it’s easy to see why he was indeed amazing.
First off, we have a centurion, a commander of 100 soldiers in the Roman army. A man of his authority could very well have had many servants and it wouldn’t have been uncommon to treat them poorly. But this centurion “valued highly” this servant, so much so that the centurion sent for help for the man as he was “paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Great love where none would have been expected.
Then, when Jesus graciously asks if He should come and heal the servant, we see the centurion’s great humility on display. Luke 7:6-7 recounts the story, “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.” So in spite of the centurion’s earthly position, in spite of being well-respected (Luke 7:4-5), and in spite of his resources, he understood that it all meant very little in the eyes of the Lord, who had been given all authority in heaven and earth.
And next, we see his great faith. Luke 7:7 continues, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” It’s faith enough to believe that Jesus could touch the servant and the servant would be healed. But to believe that words alone would be sufficient displays a deepness of trust rarely seen in Scripture. And the centurion’s faith in Jesus’ power was confirmed. Matthew 8:13 concludes the story this way, “Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.’ And his servant was healed at that moment.”
Love. Humility. Faith. I think it’s fair to say these traits characterized the centurion. And here’s what’s exciting: they can characterize us too. We are already blessed because we believe but have not seen (John 20:29). And with the Holy Spirit living in us and through us, giving us access to the One who marked the heavens with the breadth of His hands, Jesus being “amazed” isn’t confined to the story of the centurion.
When a woman forgives a drunk driver for killing her husband, God is amazed. When an 82-year-old repents for his hardened-life of rebellion and indulgence, God is amazed. When a family praises the Father in spite of cancer stealing their mom, God is amazed. When the lone Christian stands up for her faith in the face of her atheist professor, God is amazed. Or when the stay-at-home mom turns from food to God for her ultimate source of comfort, ending a life-long battle with obesity, God is amazed.
He is amazed… but not surprised.
We are all centurions.
“Father, everyday I want to be more like You. This only happens by You in me. Grow my love. Establish my humility. Increase my faith. Amen.”
By You in me, amaze for the Kingdom.