Your Faith Needs A "Soldier's Eye"
"The value of faith is that it opens the mind to the Lord." - Pulpit Commentary - New Testament
"Christ was, therefore, to the soldier's eye, the centurion of all diseases, and they obeyed Him, so that He might have sent the disease of the servant away by a simple word of command."
- Pulpit Commentary - New Testament
"Christ has a sovereign power over all His creatures and all their actions, and can change the course of nature as He pleases, can rectify its disorders and repair its decays in human bodies; for all power is given to Him."
- Matthew Henry
How would you like for Jesus to brag on your faith by saying to those around you - "...I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
He actually spoke these words about a man in the Bible who happened to be a Gentile. He was a Roman soldier - a centurion - an officer in the Roman army who had the command of one hundred soldiers. He was a stern and unbending man who was accustomed to being obeyed absolutely. Normally, the Romans were inclined to oppose all that seemed Jewish, but this man was different. He happened to be a friend of the Jews.
One account of his story is given in Luke 7:1-10 and goes like this -
"Now when He (Jesus) had ended all His sayings in the audience of the people, He entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this: For he loved our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, Lord, trouble not Thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof. Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned Him about, and said unto the people that followed Him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick."
Here we have a man who was not a Jew - not raised in a Jewish home - and yet he displayed such "great faith" as Jesus termed it. How could this be? How was it that a Gentile could have a greater view of Jesus than His own people? What steps did he go through to arrive at such a monumental faith?
We believe that hidden within the lines of this story are the keys for us to follow in order to reach the same level of faith in God. Let's examine this story and see for ourselves what these keys might be.
First of all, we see that this man's heart was very tender or sympathetic. How do we know this? Because verse 2 tells us that his servant was "dear unto him." It was very rare for a Master to care for - much less love - his slave. Yet this Master was dead-set on getting help for his dying "servant."
This centurion had a listening ear to the Spirit of God. There were many in those days who "heard of Jesus," yet they did nothing in response. If they did do anything, they may have mocked or questioned His works or claims for being the Son of God. It says in verse 3 that "when he heard of Jesus," he reacted in faith - seeking to bring Jesus to his dying servant for a healing touch.
Even though this man was in a high position of authority, yet he displayed such humility and modesty before the Jews and Jesus alike. Twice he sent others to Jesus because he was afraid to approach Him himself. He sent "the elders of the Jews" who were the principal officers of the city - members of the Sanhedrin. And then he sent "friends" with a fresh expression of his humility before Jesus.
Even though he was a centurion in the Roman army - having one hundred men under him - he still maintained a humble and modest view of himself in the presence of Jesus. The "elders" called him "worthy" of God's favor, but he called himself "unworthy" of the least of His mercies - "... Lord, trouble not Thyself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof. Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee..." (verses 6-7).
In this story, we learn of this centurion's great act of benevolence or goodness toward Israel. The "elders of the Jews" boasted to Jesus about him - calling him "worthy" of God's favor because he "loved" the Jews and demonstrated his love for them by building them a synagogue - "For he loveth our nation; and he hath built us a synagogue." This is quite an act of kindness - especially when considering that it was directed toward the Jews by a Roman.
So far, we have seen a man who is tenderhearted...receptive to the Holy Spirit and the truth...humble and modest...and extremely kind and benevolent with his resources. These "graces" certainly can and do contribute to having a "great faith" - for how can anyone have "great faith" without also having a heart filled with love, humility, and generosity? Galatians 5:6 tells us that "faith worketh by love."
However, there is one element that seems to be instrumental in getting this man to the level of faith displayed in this story. And that element is his understanding of the importance of obedience or submission to authority. He knew command and obedience. He had a full grasp of the idea of Divine authority. He was accustomed to obey implicitly those who were over him in position. Also, he was in the habit of receiving full and immediate obedience of those who were under him.
Believe it or not - his military training helped him reach a level of faith which distinguished him above others. He happened to look upon his world with a "soldier's eye" (Pulpit Commentary - New Testament). In the world around him, authority was paramount. Resultantly, he read law everywhere.
His faith from the very beginning recognized the Lordship of Jesus. He addressed Him as Lord from the very start - "...Lord, trouble not Thyself..." Because he pictured Jesus as being Lord of all, his faith recognized His power to do all things - "And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant."
One thing that must be said here is this - Up until this time, this man never saw Jesus in person...heard His teachings...or experienced His miracles. His faith was solely based on the concept of Him being Lord and having authority over all.
Because this man fully grasped the meaning behind Jesus being Lord of all and over all, he was able to place his complete trust in the authority of His Word - "...but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it."
As a military man, this centurion had learned how to receive orders and how to execute them. Just as he expected obedience to his commands, he understood that Jesus - being the Master over disease - had the power to compel obedience from it.
We can certainly see that there are many factors in a person's life that can contribute to having - "great faith" - one of which is having a heart that is sympathetic, humble, and sensitive to the needs of others. But the major contributing factor that catapults faith beyond the normal or natural is having the understanding of law and obedience - or seeing everything from a "soldier's eye."
Why don't you apply this lesson to your life's situation? Why don't you do as this man did and read law everywhere? Make authority paramount. Allow the Holy Spirit to develop in you a "soldier's eye."
Simply ask Jesus to speak a word to that problem that you are facing right now. He is Lord of all and over all, isn't He? Doesn't everything and everyone have to bow their knee to Him and acknowledge Him as Lord? Then one sentence - or even one word - from His mouth will suffice to bring your victory or breakthrough.
Begin to see Christ as the centurion over everything that pertains to you. And then watch your faith grow from simple faith to "so great faith" - "no, not in Israel."