People Who Amazed God’s Son
But only two verses speak of Jesus himself being amazed.
In Mark 6, when the Lord taught in His hometown synagogue in Nazareth, His neighbors became offended and rejected Him.
3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:3-6)
The people who knew Him from childhood ended up amazing Christ because of their inability to believe in Him, in spite of the supernatural miracles He performed.
When seeing is not Believing
Other Jews also had a very hard time believing in the Lord.
I’m personally horrified by the Pharisees’ blindness, when their long expected Messiah arrived.
After Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead, the religious leaders’ only response to this miracle was to plot to kill Lazarus too. Their reason? Because many people were believing in Jesus as a result.
I hope I never amaze Jesus by my lack of faith.
In contrast, a particular Roman Centurion amazed Christ too, but for a totally different reason.
A Most Unusual Centurion
Centurions wore a distinctive crested helmet. When in battle formation, this leader’s place was traditionally at the end of the first row of soldiers. Marching into danger, Centurions often inspired their men with their strong leadership and courage.
Many soldiers served Rome in occupied Judah, but this Centurion showed himself to be unique.
This Centurion Built the Jews a Synagogue
What strikes me strongly about this appeal is that the Jewish elders obviously wanted Jesus to agree to the Centurion’s request. Verse 4 says they pleaded earnestly on his behalf.
2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die.
3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.
4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”(Luke 7:2-5 NIV)
Roman soldiers were known to be great builders. Every night, while on campaign, a large portion of the men built a fortified, enclosed camp for the whole army to sleep in. It protected them from surprise attacks and psychologically a fort going up every night messed with their enemies’ heads. It also became a staging area for the next morning’s battle.
Many of the Centurion’s soldiers were skilled builders, so erecting a synagogue for the Jews would not have been difficult. But it was very unusual. Roman soldiers tended to treat the people they conquered with contempt.
Some history books say that Rome civilized many parts of the known world, extending their code of laws by conquest. Perhaps. But for several centuries, the protection of Roman law only applied to Roman citizens. Conquered people often were taxed mercilessly, bullied and treated as worthless scum. For instance, the Roman soldiers used whipping as a means of interrogating perceived “troublemakers.”
In Acts 22:24-29, the Apostle Paul avoided a brutal flogging by announcing his Roman citizenship.
This Centurion Showed Humility
Normally, if a Centurion summoned a Jew into his presence, that man or woman came quickly. Brute force and harsh punishment hammered any ordinary Jewish citizens who treated a Roman commander with disrespect. Sometimes the Roman officer didn’t even summon the person; instead, he sent out a squad of armed soldiers.
But notice this man’s humility toward Jesus.
6 So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.
7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you… (Luke 7:6-7 NIV)
This Centurion Recognized Jesus’ Divine Authority
Hearing about some of Jesus’ miracles, the Centurion made a logical leap of faith that even the Lord’s closest friends didn’t make. He grasped the truth of who Jesus must be. Many Jews believed He was the Messiah, but this Roman soldier understood that only God could perform the miracles that this man did.
The Centurion knew he could send a message to his soldiers and they’d quickly obey his will, He didn’t have to be physically present. Neither did Jesus because all of creation would obey His word.
7 “…But say the word, and my servant will be healed.
8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well. (Luke 7:7-10 NIV)
In the gospels, what other person showed an unshakablely great faith in Jesus? Send me your best guesses. In a few days, I will put the answer at the end of this post, in the comments section.
All images came from Pixabay.com.
The Roman legions built fortified, enclosed camps every night while on campaign, which protected their entire army from surprise attack. Here’s a great article about how and why the Roman marching camps were constructed.