5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 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 does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission.
In reading this passage, I am always struck by the implications of verse 10 -- when Jesus heard the belief of the Centurion that his servant could be healed by just a word from Jesus, even at a great distance, Jesus was astonished. How remarkable it is that God, the knower of all things, is astonished at the words of a Gentile Centurion!
What is it that astonishes the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords? Faith! True, believing faith. Faith that is more than lip-service. Faith that is more than just the matter of Sunday morning worship or weekly Bible study. Faith that is more than just an anthem we sing. But true, honest faith that believes.
So, what is astonishing faith? As Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for, certain of what we do not see.” This verse shows us that faith is made up of two components. The first component of faith is being sure of what we hope for. This means that we believe that something that has been promised will come to pass. That we trust in hope for what is to come that has been promised through Jesus.
The second component of faith is being certain of what we do not see. This means that we believe something to be true even though we have not seen it ourselves. Jesus referred to this in John 20:29 when He told Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Jesus is referring to those who believe in faith based on His word and His promises, even though they haven’t seen the risen Lord in physical form and didn't put their hands in the nail holes and the wound in His side as Thomas did.
This would also apply to the faith of the Centurion here in this passage and to the faith of the leper in the verses preceding these (Matthew 8:1-4). Both the Centurion and the leper believed that Jesus could heal simply as an act of His will. Time and distance did not matter. Just the word of Jesus was sufficient to bring healing to others.
This contrasts the faith of most of those who were following God in Israel at this time. Their belief was by sight and not through faith. We see this in the response of the people asking Jesus for a sign to prove His words time and time again. We see this today in our churches and in our mirrors. This is not faith. And, certainly, this is not astonishing faith.
True faith is faith that believes although it hasn’t seen. True faith is faith that believes despite what the eyes tell them. True faith is faith in Jesus regardless of what our senses or the world tells us. True faith is belief in Jesus as the sole answer to the promises of God in our lives. True faith is belief in action, belief that we trust enough to depend our very lives and our souls on. True faith is astonishing faith, a very rare commodity in Jesus’ day and just as rare in ours.
Here’s the question we must ask: Are we astonishing God with our faith?