“When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, pleading with him, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony.”” (Matthew 8:5–6)
Where does faith begin? Paul tells us we’ve all been given a “measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3), but when does it begin to rise up within us?
In this passage, Matthew tells us of a man with so great a faith that even Jesus was “amazed” at it (Matt. 8:10). He’s described as a centurion – he was responsible for 100 Roman soldiers in his command. Any order he gave them, they would obey…without question. This man had real power and importance.
On the other hand, any popular itinerant preacher like Jesus with Messianic leanings talking about “Kingdoms” other than Rome would have been on the top of this Centurion’s watch list to silence quickly and mercilessly if necessary. At the time, Jesus’ fame was spreading throughout Capernaum…he had just healed a man of leprosy in front of a large crowd.
So that put this soldier on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, he had a job to do as a Roman soldier…to keep the order…to keep this preacher quiet. And yet, he had a problem. Someone he cared for deeply needed help that only this healer could provide.
And here’s where faith begins to rise. Faith begins with a reality check.
Here’s a man who is used to getting what he wants. He’s used to being in charge. But he’s found himself in the uncomfortable position of a loss of control. He has power. He has money. He has connections…but none of that could help his servant.
It didn’t matter that the centurion was important. It didn’t matter that he had money. The reality check was that things were out of his control and he needed God’s help. Ultimately, he had to come to the conclusion, “I can’t fix this, Jesus. But you can.”
When your back’s against the wall – when there’s no way out but Jesus – that’s when faith grows. It’s not a fun place to be, but that’s the mess of life. Maybe you find yourself there now. I am.
Join us Sunday and we’ll look together at this great story and learn some principles of growing our faith in my series, “How Firm a Foundation.” See you then!