Luke 7:1-10 (ESV)
After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.
What’s so special about the centurion’s faith? Jesus declares it greater than anything He’s seen, even in Israel. What does the centurion say that’s so impressive?
Authority. The centurion’s point is all about authority. He recognizes that Jesus has the authority to heal his servant. That’s huge.
God answers prayer. You and I can ask for anything and God will listen and act – but we don’t know what will happen next. It’s not up to us; we don’t have authority.
Prophets sometimes know what’s going to happen next, but that’s because God tells them. They don’t get to decide what happens next. They don’t have authority either.
But Jesus is something else, something much more than a prophet. The centurion knows that Jesus actually has the authority to decide whether his servant gets better or not.
Of course, we can’t know exactly what the centurion does and doesn’t understand. (Who can totally understand incarnation anyway?) But the centurion understands one aspect of “Jesus is Lord” in a way that even His disciples don’t (yet) get.
This is especially powerful coming right after the tongue-lashing Jesus gave His disciples over their casual use of the term Lord.
Lord means authority. Luke wants us to make this connection.
Jesus isn’t just the Lord of an estate; he’s the Lord of space, time, matter, energy, truth, mathematics, you name it. He created them all and they are His. He can do or change anything He wants.
That’s what makes prayer so amazing. Why would He care what we have to say? We know nothing.
But for reasons only He knows, we are told to pray. We have no authority, but we are privileged to be able to come before the one who does.
Prayer should always start with worship. I often start by praising Him for having any interest in what I might have to say.
The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here: