By: Dra. Carla Sunberg
Luke 7:1 After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. 3 When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. 4 When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, 5 for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” 6 And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; 7 therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I also 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 slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” 9 When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
So much about the truth of Jesus’ sermon is lived out in this next scene. All the way from loving our enemies, to showing mercy. Jesus has been defining discipleship by the heart that leads to action, and it is all lived out in this centurion. Discipleship is about faith, and Luke emphasizes this throughout his gospel and Acts. Faith and action are connected, and this man, while being from an unexpected quarter, has “all the traits of the ideal disciple” (Neale, NBBC).
This morning I met with a group of women in prayer. One of those was Pastor Jenee Noriega from the Total Life Church in the urban core of Kansas City. She shared the story of one of the young men who has been radically saved and sanctified. His life circumstances could be described as some of the worst that one could imagine and yet, when he heard the good news of Jesus, he had faith and reached out to the One who could change his life.
This faith is from an unexpected quarter — from a young man raised by an alcoholic father in the inner city where there are no accredited schools. This is one that society would mark as having insurmountable challenges, and very little hope. But the one that the world might mark as hopeless, had faith. Just like the centurion, he has taken baby steps, day after day, feeling unworthy to be in God’s presence or with God’s people, but fully open to receiving everything that Jesus has for him. This led him to finally selling out everything to follow Jesus. All faith — all trust — everywhere he had been trying to find hope — he gave it to the Lord. He is a new person in Christ, and helps to lead and teach the youth group on Thursday nights.
Some of us live in nice “upstanding” neighborhoods attend church regularly, and try to do the right things, and yet we haven’t experienced the kind of transformation that this young man has. Neither have we stepped out in faith to follow Jesus like this. While it may seem that we are in the “right quarter” of the community, we have very little faith and do not get to witness God’s miracles. It’s easy to point fingers and say that it’s bad in that part of town, but maybe there’s light breaking through the darkness over there, when we, ourselves, are stumbling around in our own dim circumstances.
To truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we are to have faith like this centurion. In humility he came to Jesus, with great faith, believing that Jesus could answer his prayer. Faith is the gateway to the life of true discipleship intended by Christ.
Lord, I’m grateful for the ways in which you are speaking to me. Help me to live by taking the baby steps of faith every day. Amen.