Unlikely Faith

Luke 7: 1-10

1-5 When he finished speaking to the people, he entered Capernaum. A Roman captain CENTURION there had a servant who was on his deathbed.

He prized him highly and didn’t want to lose him. When he heard Jesus was back, he sent leaders from the Jewish community asking him to come and heal his servant.

They came to Jesus and urged him to do it, saying, “He deserves this. He loves our people. He even built our meeting place.”

6-8 Jesus went with them. When he was still quite far from the house, the captain sent friends to tell him,

“Master, you don’t have to go to all this trouble. I’m not that good a person, you know. I’d be embarrassed for you to come to my house, even embarrassed to come to you in person.

Just give the order and my servant will get well. I’m a man under orders; I also give orders. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes; another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9-10 Taken aback, Jesus addressed the accompanying crowd: “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple FAITH anywhere in Israel, where the very people who are supposed to know about God and how he works.”

When the messengers got back home, they found the servant up and well.

HOMILY

LUKE   GENTILE  PHYSICIAN

-Paul the Apostle calls Luke the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14).

-Luke was a companion and fellow worker of Paul (2 Tim. 4:11; Philemon 24).

-They traveled extensively. Luke was a keen observer of the human condition.

-Like a good physician, he saw people as they were and he loved them all.

-His gospel is the easiest to read and understand, because it

presupposes that his audience is not familiar with Jewish customs and practices.

 

-Luke was a Gentile. 

-He is the only New Testament writer who was not a Jew.

-He addressed his gospel to a fellow Gentile, named Theophilus.

(Friend of God)

-Luke intended his gospel for the Gentile Christians.

-Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and likely encouraged Luke to write such an account.

-Luke wanted to give an account of the gospel to a non-Jewish audience who were not accustomed to Jewish beliefs and practices and who lived in a society dominated by Greek culture and language.

-Luke wrote his gospel in the common Greek of the day.

-It was likely written between 63-70 A.D.

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Since LUKE was a Gentile, addressing his Gospel to Gentiles… his stories are about Gentiles…

Luke tells a story of great faith, but from an unlikely character

This is a story about a ROMAN CAPTAIN who demonstrates a faith unmatched even from the people of Israel.

A gentile, roman, soldier… triple threat for being unlikely

UNLIKELY to demonstrate faith.

Typically soldiers are not known for examples of piety, and particularly not when it comes to Jewish religious figures.

This story is typically interpreted as a story of tremendous faith.

But, what is faith? There is a clear answer in the centurion…

He understands his position as a Roman Captain is one of authority… he recognizes authority… and he sees this authority in Jesus. He trusts his judgment of Jesus’s authority to heal so much that he sends a messenger to have Jesus just speak the word and his sick servant would be healed…

The roman captain was not only an UNLIKELY believer – he was also an unexpected.

Jesus is surprised by this gentile roman soldier’s confidence in him…

“Not even in Israel have I seen such faith”

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Who have you seen or known who was an unlikely and unexpected believer?

The centurion is an example of great faith… but there is more to this story..

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It is an illustration of how God shows up where we least expect God to be–

Jesus was amazed at God working in the Centurion… but, those who read the original account decades after it happened knew little had changed in the world. Rome was still forcing its will on Israel – and here is a story about one of those enforcers calling on this Jew for healing.

Luke fails to mention whether the centurion became a follower of Jesus… Neither Luke nor Jesus seem concerned about that.

The centurion did not express interest in anything more than the authority

He saw in Jesus… and how it would benefit him….

Neither Luke or Jesus appeared interested in whether the soldier became a disciple… —

Jesus just praises his faith and Luke writes about it…

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God met the gentile soldier where he was… Not after the soldier became a disciple…

What does this mean?

 

Pope Francis reminded us of that this week as well.

During a homily at mass last Wednesday at the Vatican, the Pope said that all people are redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice and invited his hearers to meet all people, whether they believe or not, at the place of doing good works.

The fact that he included atheists among those who are redeemed by Christ and invited to do good works shocked many.

But perhaps what we should be surprised at is not that unlikely and unexpected people demonstrate faith and do good works, but that we consider them unlikely and unexpected in the first place.

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God is God for ALL people… not just those who adhere to some religious dogma …

God is God for ALL people – no matter where they are — who they are – or what they are —

God is God for and to ALL people.

And that is good news.