Luke 7:1-10 = Amazing Faith!
Bible Background: Matthew 8 has another version of this healing miracle. Luke’s gospel is especially interested in healing stories, and is more aimed at ‘outsiders’ to the Jewish community. Here, a Roman centurion turns out to show great trust in Jesus, and Jesus shows great admiration for his faith.
Digging Deeper: 1. Typically, but not always, Jesus responds quickly to requests for help. This request is unusual, in that it involves the slave/servant of a Roman centurion; and it’s good Jewish people who bring the concern to Jesus, and who vouch for the soldier’s character. Also, Jesus never actually meets either the centurion or his sick slave, but the healing happens anyway!
2. Keep in mind, that the land of Israel was occupied by Roman forces, who would be expected to pledge their loyalty to the Emperor-and not to God. Occupying forces are not usually ‘friends’ of the people. This man is an exception. He is said to “love our people” and has helped them build their synagogue. Wow! How might this example begin to help see our perceived ‘enemies’ as real persons, capable of not just being caring people, but of actually being helpful friends?
3. Jesus is willing to go to the soldier’s home (but to enter his house would be a no-no.) The centurion sends word for Jesus not to bother, but just “to say the word”. This request shows great trust and great humility both. This is what leaves Jesus amazed: that even among the people of Israel he has not found this much faith! Keep in mind that Jesus was not welcomed everywhere! In fact, the hometown folks at Nazareth threw him out of their synagogue! Among some, he finds a warm welcome and strong faith. Among others, not so much!
4. One piece of good news is that the slave, though low on the social scale, is ‘highly valued’. Another piece is that he is made well! But, he still remains a slave. Slavery in Bible times, and in American history displayed varying levels of respect for those enslaved. But treated well or treated badly, slaves are still slaves!
5. Friends play the key role in this miracle: They carry the need to Jesus. They also carry the faith-filled message that wins the day. How does this encourage us to bring the needs of others to God/Jesus? How willing are we to take on that role?
6. A point of this story for us-who live 2,000 years after Jesus walked the earth-might be that the healing power and compassion of Jesus is indeed available, whether Jesus is physically present or not!
For fun, Google search “biblical Capernaum” and see remarkable ruins from around the time of Jesus, including the synagogue there!