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Amazing Jesus


It’s true that Jesus is amazing. Throughout the Gospels people were amazed at Christ.

When He calmed the storm, when He walked on water, when He cast out demons, people were amazed at Him. His teaching amazed them. His resurrection caused folks to marvel.

The Greek word that is used so frequently to describe being amazed or marveling or admiring is θαυμάζω (thow-MAT-zo).

But “amazing Jesus” has another connotation. It could mean that Jesus was the one being amazed. But is that even possible? Could Jesus ever be amazed at anything His followers could do?

The Gospels record many times when people are “thaumazoed” by Christ. But there is only one occasion when this special word is used of our Lord being amazed by a human being. It occurs in the familiar story of Christ’s healing a centurion’s slave, recorded in Luke 7:1-10. Here it is in the English Standard Version:

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

You can see in v. 9 that Jesus marveled at the centurion. So, let’s talk a little about the only man in Scripture who “amazed” Jesus. Centurions were essentially captains in the Roman army, but they were not commissioned – they came up through the ranks. They were known for their loyalty, courage, and strength.

Centurions show up quite often in the New Testament, and when they do, they are portrayed with respect. For example, there is the testimony of the centurion at the cross of Christ, right after Jesus died: “Surely this was the Son of God!” And a centurion was the first Gentile convert to Christianity – in Acts 10, the story of Cornelius.

Let me mention three things about the centurion in this story that should impress us.

First is His love for those who might have hated him. Notice in v. 2 that the centurion was concern about his servant: 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. The Greek word means he was a slave, and slaves were not considered people. They were instruments, tools. The master had total control over them. If you killed a slave, it was your right to do so. So, it is highly unusual that the centurion cares that this slave of his is sick.

But here’s a clue about this slave in v. 7. The centurion sent another delegation to ask for Jesus’ help, and here’s what he says, 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. The word “servant” in v. 7 is different than the word used in v. 2. Here it is the word pais – boy. To this tough old soldier, his young slave is someone he actually loves.

Secondly, we’re impressed by his generosity toward those who were very different from him. The delegation of Jewish elders testified to Jesus about the how the centurion had helped them, in vv. 4-5: 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”

Third, we should be impressed by His humility despite his accomplishments.

The Lord dropped everything and started walking to the centurion’s home to heal the servant. But before Jesus arrives, the centurion sent another delegation. 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. The Jewish elders said, “This man is worthy of your help.” But the soldier said, “I’m not worthy even to have you come to my house.”

The centurion impresses us! We admire him. But none of these admirable qualities is what impressed Jesus about the centurion. What impressed Jesus was the centurion’s trust in Christ alone. Christ didn’t count his love or generosity or humility as meritorious. And the centurion was focused on Jesus alone.

“I’m a man who understands authority,” he said. “I command others and they do what I say. And I’m under command myself. So, Lord, just say the word, and I know my servant will be healed. I trust You completely.”

And that’s when Jesus was impressed. He marveled, He wondered. 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” The story ends with a miracle: 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

The story gives us a simple lesson: Jesus is only impressed with the man or woman who trusts in Him and Him alone.

The centurion got it. Jesus is great and glorious and all-powerful. He is so great that He doesn't even need to come to my house, or see my poor, sick servant. Christ can just decide, and He can heal this man at a distance.

Friends, it’s not your rank that matters. It’s not how hard you’ve worked, and how well you’ve done financially. It’s not even that you’re a loving person and you try to take care of others. You and I ought to be humble, that’s not impressive to Christ.

These noble qualities are results of the centurion’s trust in Christ alone, not reasons for His admiration.

Even saving faith itself is part of the sovereign grace that He bestows upon sinners. The spotlight in Luke’s story falls upon Jesus, the only Worthy One, and when we marvel at His greatness and glory, His kindness and power, that’s the kind of faith that gets His attention.

Here’s a simple suggestion for growing in the faith that causes our Savior to marvel: Pray like the apostles did in Luke 17:5: “Increase our faith.” That’s a prayer He will undoubtedly answer.


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