Do you want great faith?
Luke 7:1-10 will provide some help on understanding what great faith is and how to get it. This passage comes right after the conclusion of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples on how to be a disciple. Luke 6 contains Christ’s discipleship manual. He has taught them with words what it means to follow Him. Now, in Luke 7, 8 and 9, Christ is going to teach by example what it takes to be his disciple.
He has taught the disciples with words. Now he teaches them by example.
The first lesson is about developing great faith. The scene is set in Luke 7:1-2 where we are introduced to a Centurion and his sick servant.
I. The Sick Servant (Luke 7:1-2)
Luke 7:1-2. Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die.
Jesus has finished the teachings in Luke 6, and he now enters Capernaum, a small fishing village near the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus spent much of His time, and performed many of his miracles. Luke 7:2 goes on to tell us that in Capernaum was a centurion. Centurions were Roman Army officers who generally commanded 100 soldiers. Most of them were Gentiles, though sometimes they were half-Jews – Samaritans, so the Jewish people tended to despise centurions.
Not only where they symbolic of Roman rule, they often abused their power and took unjust liberties. But such was not the case with this centurion. We get a glimpse of his character in Luke 7:2, where we read that he had a servant who was dear to him. The word dear literally means he was held in high honor or value. Such compassion on a servant was unheard of at the time of Jesus.
The fact that the centurion cared so much for his servant set him apart from the typical Roman soldier, who could be brutally heartless. The average slave owner of that day…had no more regard for his slave than for an animal.
“The great Greek philosopher Aristotle said there could be no friendship and no justice toward inanimate things, not even toward a horse, an ox, or a slave, because master and slave were considered to have nothing in common. ‘A slave,” he said, ‘is a living tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave.’ (Ethics, 1161b). The Roman law expert Gaius wrote that it was universally accepted that the master possessed the power of life and death over his slave (Institutes, 1:52). Still another Roman writer, Varro, maintained that the only difference between a slave, a beast, and a cart was that the slave talked (On Landed Estates, 1:17.1).
But this centurion cared for his servant. And this dear servant became sick. When the text says he was sick, the Greek literally says he was having it bad. This servant had it bad. That is Luke the physician’s professional diagnosis.
There are three things you never want to hear a doctor say:
2. Hmm…I’ve never seen this before.
3. Oh, this is bad!
Luke says the third one here. This servant had it bad.
It was so bad, he was ready to die. He was at the point of death. So what did the servant have which was so bad? We don’t know. We aren’t told. But whatever it was, Matthew 8:6 indicates that the sickness caused paralysis and great torment. Generally, paralysis means you have no feeling. But this servant was paralyzed and in pain. He had the worst of both worlds. The centurion, who loved this servant, hated to see him in such distress and agony. So in Luke 7:3, he hears that Jesus is in town, and sends some people to ask Jesus to heal his servant.