Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
In Luke 7:2-10 there is a delightful story of a Roman centurion who sent some Jewish elders on a mission to Jesus to request Him to come and heal his servant who was sick unto death. The elders displayed their arrogance, proudly recommending the Roman army officer because he loves the Jewish nation and has paid for a synagogue (church building) for them.
But their testimonials meant nothing to Jesus; here was a request for help, and His compassion responded. (Luke tells it because he loves to emphasize Jesus' love for Gentiles.) Halfway there, Jesus is interrupted by the man's friends sent on another mission to tell Him, "Do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof" (he probably had a sumptuous house if he could afford to pay for a new synagogue!). Then he added, "Say the word, and my servant will be healed." He believed there is power in God's word! And Jesus marveled that a Gentile should have such "faith," that is, confidence that God is all-powerful.
Is such belief in God's omnipotence a balanced definition of the word "faith"?
In the same chapter we have a deeper definition of faith when Jesus said of Mary Magdalene who washed His feet with tears (vss. 36-50), "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace" (vs. 50). Now Jesus enlarges on His attempts to define faith. Mary was not asking for a miracle for her own or someone else's benefit, like the centurion she was expressing appreciation for having saved her soul from hell. She wasn't asking for anything! In fact, her heart had been melted by the love of Christ so that her offering of the precious ointment or perfume was a mirror-like reflection of the sacrificial love of Christ for us sinners.
Luke 7 teaches us a lesson: genuine faith is more than self-centered trust that my prayer, "Give me this, or give me that!" will be answered. Faith is a heart-appreciation for what God has already given us in Christ! And that requires intelligent understanding! The centurion had the beginnings of it; and you can have it, too.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 23, 1997.
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