I remember a college spring break and six of us were in one car heading from Missouri to Ohio in the pouring rain late at night. The back passenger tire went flat. So John and I pulled out all the luggage from the trunk so we could get the spare. After changing the tire, we headed down the road, and got another flat – it was the spare. Not knowing what to do, John and I took walked to the next exit with the flat tire in the rain and found a place that patched it. The whole time John and I joked that God had better have a good reason for all these flat tires. Down the road another 2-3 hours and we had another flat – the same tire. This time, we were able to make it to the exit and stopped at a Holiday inn and slept in the lobby until the tire store opened next door. One of the girl’s had her dad’s credit card and we bought a new tire and made it home the following day. It was such a frustrating night! But when we got home, our parents were worried, not because of the flat tire, but because there were tornadoes all through Missouri and Illinois. We were reminded that maybe God allowed the flat tires to keep us from a more dangerous situation on the highway.
Like my college trip, life can be frustrating. When you have problems with no reasonable reason… When you have more questions than answers… When life seems to be heading in a direction that makes no sense… When you have lost control and you don’t know what to do. Frustration leads you to think, “If I were a better Christian, I’d know what to do.” But maybe God has you in your particular situation, so you can simply display faith and trust in Him.
Jesus met a lot of people while He was on earth. But only twice in the Gospels are we told that Jesus marveled. In Luke 7:1-10, Jesus marveled at the faith of a Gentile The other in Mark 6:1-6 Jesus marveled at the Jews’ lack of faith
Here’s what how it reads:
Jesus “could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief…” (Mark 6:5-6)
“When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him [centurion], 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.” (Luke 7:9)
What could be more terrible than to amaze the Son of God with one’s lack of faith? But what could be more wonderful than to amaze Him with one’s faith. The centurion had amazing, marvelous strong faith. Do you?
I discovered four aspects that gave him marvelous faith?
This centurion cared about his servant. He was “dear to him.” The word used for this slave is often used for a child or son. His love and concern for his slave was surprising considering the Roman’s typical consideration of slaves as property.
Faith without love is empty.
A delegation of Jewish elders met Jesus and said this centurion loved the Jews and had built their synagogue. Though not Jewish, He was generous to God’s people. These Jewish leaders actually gave him sole credit for building the synagogue.
You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.
The Centurion was an important military official. Yet, he recognized that Jesus outranked him by sending two delegations to ask help. The first delegation was a group of Jewish elders who asked Jesus to come and heal his servant. The second delegation was his friends who said not to come because he felt unworthy for Jesus to come to his house. Though the Jewish elders felt he was worthy, the centurion felt himself unworthy. He was truly a humble man.
God gives grace to the humble.
Although he felt unworthy, this centurion never doubted Jesus’ authority to solve his problem. His confidence in Jesus’ ability never faltered, yet he did not presume on His grace. He trusted Jesus to do right.
As a soldier and an officer, he understood the military chain of command. He knew how to take orders and how to give them. And he saw the parallels between the way he commanded his soldiers and the way Jesus commanded diseases. Both Jesus and the centurion were under authority and had the right to exercise authority. All they had to do was say the word and things happened. He had complete confidence in Jesus’ ability to heal his servant. And He did.
Let faith be bigger than your frustrations.
One of the greatest, if not the greatest, tightrope walkers in the World was a man named Charles Blondin. He would scale a tall pole over Niagara Falls and from a small platform he would walk out on a steel cable that stretched across the falls. Well, you can imagine that this always drew a pretty good crowd of people. As he was walking the tightrope he would do different tricks for the crowd. He would jump up and down. He would do somersaults and headstands. Once he supposedly stopped halfway across the falls to cook and eat an omelet on the tightrope. The crowd would “ooh” and “ah” and cheer wildly every time he completed one of these tricks. The he would return to the platform where he started from and he would address the crowd and sign autographs.
One day when he returned to the platform he did something he’d never done before. He asked the crowd “Did you like my performance?” Of course, everybody cheered. He asked “Do you think I could do it again?” Everybody cheered louder. “Do you think I could do it with someone on my shoulders?” The crowd went absolutely wild! So he asked, “Who would like to be the first volunteer?” You could have heard a pin drop. Finally one man stepped out of the crowd. It was Blondin’s manager. He climbed to the top of the pole and he got up on Blondin’s shoulders. He did everything Blondin told him to do and inch by inch they crossed Niagara falls on that tiny 1 inch thick cable. When they got there, the crowd went absolutely nuts.
Everybody said, “You can do it!”, but only one man truly believed and it was that man who stepped out of the crowd and put his life in Blondin’s hands. Do you believe Jesus enough to trust what He says?