It may be the highest praise that Jesus ever gives anyone. Luke writes that when Jesus hears the centurion’s second request, he was amazed at him (v. 9). He turns to the crowd that seems to follow him wherever he goes and says of the officer, I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith (v. 9). This kind of affirmation of a man who was not part of the religious community, though his faith was powerfully real, must have surprised the crowd.
Not even in Israel have I found such faith. “Israel” here includes the rabbis, the leaders of the synagogue, and even Jesus’ own disciples. None of them, says Jesus, exhibits the faith that this centurion shows. What an indictment of those who claim to be faithful! The most faithful person Jesus says he has ever encountered is a Gentile centurion.
Faith is never measured by the office we hold, the church we attend, the committees we serve, the ecclesiastical labels we wear, the denominational affiliations we cultivate, or even the things we say we believe. Those are the trappings of our faith. God knows our hearts. God knows how we live out our faith. The centurion believes. Without ever even seeing Jesus, he trusts him completely. What does this story mean for our faith? Do we trust that God is at work in our world?
What does it take for us to trust in Jesus? What part of ourselves and our future have we not yet yielded to him?
Forgive us, God, when we trust in ourselves and our ways more than we trust in you and yours. Pride leads us to think we know best. Help us trust you more fully in every aspect of our life. Amen.