1. Our generation faces an issue of modern medical ethics never encountered by previous
generations: How do you decide who gets organ transplants when there are more
recipients than donors?
2. What if you had to choose between a wealthy, powerful very good person and a poor,
unknown criminal in prison for capital murder? Would you say that one person deserves
to get well and the other person deserves to die? What if the choice was less extreme?
Would you transplant the heart, liver or kidney on the basis of medical condition or on
the basis of who deserves the better deal?
3. Jesus had to decide. He wasnt going to heal everyone. There were more
requests than healings. One day he was indirectly approached with a request from a man who
was ethnically the enemy but who was a really good guy. Should he be automatically refused
or should he receive preferential treatment?
4. The man in question did something amazing. In fact there are only two times in
the entire Bible when Jesus was said to have been amazed. The first time he was amazed at
the unbelief of his neighbors in his own home town of Nazareth (Mark 6:6). The second time
was Jesus encounter with the Roman centurion in Luke 7.
I. The man who amazed Jesus Luke 7:1-8
1. The man who amazed Jesus was an officer in the Roman army which occupied
Israel. His rank was "centurion" which originally meant a commander of 100
men, or a "century" of soldiers. However, the title stuck even when the numbers
changed. It became roughly equivalent to a captain in a modern army, the officer in charge
of a company consisting of at least two platoons.
2. He was apparently stationed in or around the town of Capernaum in the northern
district of Galilee. He may well have been the ranking Roman officer in the area,
which meant that he had both the power and authority to rule the area as if he were a
local emperor. People had to do whatever he ordered them to do.
1. It is amazing that such a powerful man was also such a kind man. Especially
that he was so kind to his servant.
2. Actually, "servant" is too nice a term. The Greek word used in this
story is d o u
l o s which means
"slave." In Roman times slavery was common and slavery could often be cruel.
Under Roman law slaves were considered to be property, giving the owner complete rights to
do whatever he wanted without legal jeopardy. If he wanted to, he could kill a slave
without getting into any trouble.
3. Sick slaves and old slaves were especially at risk. It was a frequent
practice to just "put them out" when they couldnt work any longer. This
did not set them free, it let them die in desperation.
4. That the centurion so highly valued his slave and wanted to take the best care of
him in his sickness is a most unusual expression of voluntary kindness. While this
does not in any way condone slavery, it does say that he was comparatively good within an
otherwise evil system.
1. Add to the amazing list of characteristics of this amazing man that he was a
spiritual seeker. What is so unusual is not that he was interested in religion but
that he was interested in Jewish religion.
2. He was probably a well traveled and well informed veteran. Palestine was a
hardship assignment and seasoned officers were needed. The chances are good that he had
seen battle, that he had been to Rome and Athens, and that he was familiar with Roman
religion and Greek philosophy. Yet, he was attracted to the Jewish faith.
3. Anti-Semitism is not a 20th century invention of the Nazi party or
Adolph Hitler. It has been around for a very long time and was present in the first
century. The animosity and violence between the Jews and the Romans was legendary. It is
surprising that this centurion even considered checking out Jewish beliefs. Yet, he may
have been among those Romans who were increasingly disgusted with the low morals and
polytheism of the Roman culture. He found in Judaism an ethic and a theology which was far
better and very attractive.
4. He was enough of a seeker to listen at the synagogue and to search out Jesus. While
he had never met Jesus he must have heard about his reputation as one who spoke with
authority and who could heal the sick. He had to find out for himself.
5. I am repeatedly impressed by the many seekers who come to Wooddale Church. Every
week there are people from a whole array of beliefs representing the major world
religions, typical American denominations and outright unbelief. They come to look and
listen, to seek and maybe find, to check out Jesus and the Bible. They are like modern
1. While he checked out the God and people of the Bible, he won their respect.
Even the elders of the synagogue looked up to this man.
2. It is hard for us to fully comprehend how surprising this was. Religious Jews
in those days had virtually nothing to do with Gentiles. They would never go into a
Gentiles house and they would never permit a Gentile to come into their homes. It
was unlikely that there would even be a conversation between a Jew and a Gentile. Each
considered the other to be disgusting.
3. Yet the leaders of the synagogue respected and befriended this Roman officer. They
were so impressed with who he was and the way he treated them that they made an exception
to their distance from Gentiles. He was different. He was special.
1. Maybe its no wonder they respected him because he loved them. Imagine
that, he loved the Jewish people. It wasnt that he said he loved the Jewish people;
it was obvious. The people themselves declared that "he loves our nation."
2. We must assume he was a loyal Roman or he would never have kept his
commission in the army. The army considered the Hebrew nation rebellious and
difficult. They were enemies. Yet he loved them.
3. It makes me wonder why. Probably not because they were so lovable to this or
any other Roman soldier. Probably not because they were nice to him - - in fact the Jews
who called themselves Zealots swore to injure or kill every Roman possible. Rather, it
must have been something about the centurion. Because he was a loving person he saw the
best, he hoped for the best, and he brought out the best in the Jewish people.
4. I dont recall another reference in the Bible or anywhere else saying that
any Roman loved the Hebrew people of God. He was certainly an amazing man.
1. And he was generous! He was so generous that he personally built a
synagogue for the Jews of Capernaum, even though he was not allowed to be a member of the
2. I doubt he could afford this on a centurions pay. Perhaps he was
previously and privately wealthy. Maybe he came from a well-to-do Roman aristocratic
family. Wherever he got his money, he used it to fund a new synagogue all by himself.
3. We shouldnt be surprised by his generosity because we already knew he is
loving. Those who love usually are generous.
4. Another generous person once told me: "Dont ask me for my
money. Ask me for my heart. If you get my heart, youll get my money." She
put a good new spin on a line from Jesus Sermon On The Mount when he said "where
your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21). It is true
either way. Our hearts are where our treasures are and our treasures are where our hearts
are. They usually go together.
5. The centurion was so generous to Gods people because he loved Gods
1. He was also humble. Imagine that! - - - for it seems he had good reasons
to be proud. He was powerful, kind, respected, loving and generous. This man was very
successful. With such success often comes a sense of self-importance and an expectation of
2. One California psychologist has defined arrogance as the expectation of special
treatment. It is the person who thinks he or she is not bound by the same rules that
apply to everyone else. Because of money, position, success, eloquence or something else -
- - the arrogant person wants to have the best seat, get special honors, arrive late,
leave early, go to the head of the line, be treated like a VIP. Its a common thing.
3. But the centurion was different. After convincing his friends to request a
special visit from Jesus, he had some second thoughts. He wondered what right he had to
expect Jesus to come over to his house and give him special attention. He knew that a
Rabbi like Jesus wasnt supposed to ever visit the house of a Gentile and that he was
putting Jesus on the spot by asking him. In his own words: "Lord, don't trouble
yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof." (Luke 7:6).
4. This isnt the way the synagogue elders saw the situation. They figured
Jesus ought to give him special attention. They said: "This man deserves to have
you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." (Luke
7:4-5). They figured that anyone who pays for a whole synagogue all by himself certainly
deserves a special house call from Jesus and the healing of one sick slave.
5. What an amazing man - - loving, generous and humble. He insisted that he deserved
no special treatment.
1. Lets face it, he was a most insightful person. Even though he was
not technically a Jew, even though he was not raised on the Bible or in the synagogue, he
had keen insight into life, whats right and whats wrong, and into spiritual
2. The centurion told Jesus: Say the word, and my servant will be healed.
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
He had astonishing understanding into who Jesus was and how God operates. He
somehow knew that all that was needed was a word and Jesus will would be
accomplished. He didnt need a visit from Jesus he needed a word from Jesus. And, he
somehow understood that all of creation is under Jesus command, even illness and life and
3. Such spiritual insight is hard to explain but common to see.
Some people look at Jesus and see an ordinary man. They read the Bible and
it is just an ordinary if not boring book. Others see in Jesus the Son of God. They sense
the power of God. To them the Bible is the living wonderful Word of God.
Some people come to church and experience music which is a combination of harmony
and melody and words. It is a performance. Others experience God. You can see it on
their faces. You can hear it in their voices. They are people of centurion spiritual
Some people check out the church and find it to be another very human organization -
- like a club, a school, an association. Others can tell that it is the supernatural
Body of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit and the instrument of God on earth.
Some people hear a sermon and it is just another speech. Persons of spiritual
insight hear the voice of God and learn divine truth.
Some come to communion and it is an empty ritual with something to eat and something
to drink. Others taste the food of God. For them it is the physical means of
experiencing the spiritual God. It is an indescribable supernatural encounter.
4. Some are like the centurion . . . persons of spiritual insight.
5. Let me tell you, I am amazed by this Roman soldier. He was so powerful, so kind,
so seeking, so respected, so loving, so generous, so humble and so insightful. But, none
of these are what amazed Jesus. Jesus was amazed by his faith.
II. Why Jesus was so amazed Luke 7:9-10
A. Faith in Jesus
1. He had no doubt that Jesus could do anything. He was convinced that the
Jesus he had never seen was one of a kind, sent from God.
2. He was convinced that Jesus was infinitely superior. He knew that he deserved
nothing from Jesus. Jesus owed him nothing. No amount of kindness, no large contribution,
no expanse of human respect obligated Jesus to give him what he wanted.
3. While he never came out and said that Jesus was God, nor are there any hints that
his faith was that highly developed, his trust in Jesus was stunning. More than any
citizen of Israel. This man truly believed in Jesus. He wasnt one of the twelve
apostles but he believed more and better than any of the dozen at this point in time.
4. I cant help but make a comparison to some of us. Like the centurion we
may want something from Jesus - - - healing or help or money or something. But, unlike the
centurion we dont really trust Jesus. We figure that Jesus owes us something and
were disappointed in him when he doesnt give to us what we ask.
I know people who have abandoned God, rejected the Bible, left the church - all because
they are disappointed with Jesus for not doing what they told him to do.
5. The centurion trusted Jesus to do what was right, whatever that might be. He
acknowledged that he didnt deserve a thing.
6. Jesus was amazed at his faith.
B. Faith in Jesus word
1. His faith in Jesus word was equally amazing. He didnt need to
see a miracle. He didnt have to have Jesus come to his home. He firmly and fully
believed that whatever Jesus said was the way it was going to be.
2. Hes like us. In our chapter of history we dont have Jesus to see.
Hes out of the range of our touch. But we still have his word. When we read the
Bible and he promises us peace, promises us love, promises us forgiveness, promises us his
best, and promises us eternal life - - - we believe him. All we need is his word. We take
Jesus simply at his word. If he says it, its as good as done.
3. "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
1. The story ends with a very brief mention that "the men who had been sent
returned to the house and found the servant well."
2. When a dying person is quickly and completely cured, we are all impressed. But
that is not what amazed Jesus. The big deal, the important thing, the greatest of all was
not a sick person made well but faith.
3. I invite you to amaze Jesus this morning. Amaze him with your faith. Believe him
so completely and trust him so fully that he turns to the angels of heaven and says, "Look
at him. Look at her. Isnt that amazing! See the way they believe in me. See the way
they fully trust my word. I have not found such faith before. I am amazed."