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We read in Luke 7:1-10 of a Roman centurion whose faith caused Jesus to comment 'I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.'

What was it that made this man's faith 'great'?

It was not 'great' because there was a great amount of it; it was 'great' because of its focus or content. Consider:

[1] The centurion believed that Jesus Christ, though a poor Galilean carpenter, was actually someone far greater and far more important and worthy of respect than he himself. He said to Jesus:

'Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.'

This is the humility and sense of unworthiness that characterizes genuine belief in the true identity of Jesus Christ. It is expressed by those who know themselves to be, in this encounter with Jesus, face to face with God.

[2] The centurion understood authority, and he recognized in Jesus Christ a power and authority so great that even his word, spoken at a distance, would achieve whatever he willed, even that which is totally beyond any human authority. He said to Jesus: 'But say the word, and my servant will be healed'

This 'great' faith is faith in a great object: it is faith that believes that Jesus Christ is precisely the One he claimed to be, and the One his miracles demonstrated him to be: the Almighty Lord of all.

It was this faith that Jesus looked for in Israel, but did not find. It is this faith that he looks for in each of us. It is also this faith that determines our present and our future relationship with God.

As Jesus himself said: 'Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.'

Scriptures: Luke 7:1-10; Isaiah 6; Luke 5:8; Revelation 1:17; John 8:24; 20:30-31; 3:18.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008