by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Summary: A Roman centurion's "great faith" was praised by Jesus Christ. The centurion's confidence in the authority of the spoken word of the Lord provides some great faith lessons for those seeking divine healing.
Luke 7:1-2 When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.
•• Jesus had been preaching to and teaching the multitudes, as well as healing all their sick.
• The “saying” of the word of the Lord (vs. 1) is vital in helping people receive divine healing — “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14c)
•• Jesus spoke “in the hearing of the people” (vs. 1). It is necessary that people hear the word of God preached and taught, in order that faith arise in their hearts.
• Romans 10:17, KJV So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
•• When God’s word is spoken and faith is produced, people like the Roman centurion (vs. 2) are emboldened to reach out for God’s healing power for themselves or for others.
Vs. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.
•• This is a key to divine healing — “The centurion heard of Jesus.” We must make Jesus Christ and His healing power known to a world that is both physically and spiritually sick.
•• Through trusted messengers the Roman centurion sent and asked Jesus to come and heal his servant. As James 4:2 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Too often sick people are not healed, because a lack of hearing God’s word leads to their not asking Him for healing.
• Follow the Roman centurion’s example: hear God’s word (here, on the subject of healing) ... let that word be implanted in your heart and cause faith to spring up ... then go boldly to the Lord and ask Him for His healing touch.
Vss. 4-5 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
•• They “pleaded earnestly with [Jesus]” on behalf of the Roman centurion and his dying servant. This is a valid approach to the Lord and is reminiscent of certain ones who were healed by Jesus after crying out to Him, “Lord, have mercy!” (for example, Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 17:15; Matthew 20:30)
Vss. 6-7 So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “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. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.
•• The Roman centurion said, “I do not deserve...” Two things stand out to me here:
• The centurion exemplified for us the importance of recognizing Jesus’ infinite superiority to us. It is always a proper thing to look up to Jesus.
• The Roman centurion’s “I do not deserve” is a recognition that divine healing (or anything else we seek from the Lord) is entirely a matter of His grace, not our supposed merit or goodness.
•• Now we come to the very heart of the centurion’s understanding of faith for healing — “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” The power of the spoken word of faith is a major factor in receiving physical healing. Hear the word of the Lord, let faith for His healing power rise in your heart, then speak the word of faith into the physical healing need.
Vss. 8-9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
•• The Roman centurion understood the concept of authority. As a midlevel military leader, he had men over him who spoke orders to him, and without failing he obeyed. Likewise, he had men under him to whom he gave orders, and they too immediately obeyed those spoken orders.
•• Jesus, upon hearing this reply from the Gentile Roman centurion, was amazed and said that He had “not found such great faith even in Israel” (vs. 9).
•• It is very informative to search for what was said by the centurion that amazed Jesus and caused Him to praise the centurion for his “great faith” (vs. 9). The answer is in the immediately preceding verse 8. The centurion representing imperial Rome understood the authority of the spoken word.
• He understood that in the military, when a superior spoke a command, his subordinates would carry out that command without question.
• The Roman centurion was obviously declaring his faith that all Jesus needed to do was to speak a command of healing for the sick servant, and he would inevitably be healed.
• Jesus spoke of the centurion’s wise answer as one of “great faith”.
•• How do we apply the Roman centurion’s great faith for healing in our own lives and ministries?
• Hear God’s word and let it produce faith in your own hearts.
• Speak the relevant words of faith into the healing needs in your own life and those of others. The result will be as we see in the following verse — healing will be yours!
Vs. 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
•• As expected by the faith-filled centurion, his servant was healed — in this instance without Jesus even physically visiting the sick man.
In sum, what faith-for-healing lessons can we learn from the Roman centurion?
• The Lord’s word concerning divine healing must be preached and taught (Luke 7:1).
• People need to hear the word of God, so that faith in His healing power will arise in their hearts (vs. 1).
• Like the Roman centurion, we who have been stirred to faith by God’s word need to ask the Lord for healing (vs. 3).
• Don’t be passive! It’s OK to “plead earnestly” with the Lord for physical healing (vs. 4).
• Look to the Lord for healing as the lesser (us) appealing to the Greater (Jesus) (vs. 6).
• Remember that healing is a free gift of God’s grace (vs. 7).
• Have absolute, unflinching confidence that the word of God spoken in faith will bring results (vs. 7).
• Understand the irresistible authority of the spoken word of God (vs. 8).
• Recall that Jesus honored this “great faith” in Him and His word by healing the servant (vss. 9-10).
©2008, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.