Faith overcomes Fear
This following reflection is taken from one of four studies I prepared for use during the morning Bible Study sessions at General Synod 2010. The studies included set questions for discussion, and were led and presented by members of the Youth Stewards Programme who read out the reflection below before delegates gathered in small groups to discuss how the reading and reflection applied to their Synod work that day.
1 When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 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.” 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. 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.
Faith. Have you ever wondered what it is?
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.”
Still confused? Well, perhaps we can think of it in simpler terms. Let’s paraphrase the verse from Hebrews:
Faith is substance. Faith is evidence.
James 2:20b states it even more succinctly: Faith without works is dead.
You see, faith doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s not abstract, or ethereal. It’s grounded in reality.
The centurion understood his reality. He was a hardened man who earned his rank through determined effort against brutal competition.
The centurion also understood authority – his submission to it, and his own exercise of it.
He understood Jesus as a man alike – someone who had earned his authority through actions and not words alone. He understood that if Jesus commanded, it would be so.
The centurion was also a man of good works. He had a giving heart, which the people witnessed in his work and good deeds among the community.
That same heart extended to the suffering of his servant. The centurion could have been indifferent to the plight of someone less than him in accomplishment and authority.
In reaching out to Jesus, the centurion displayed some quite unexpected things:
He showed humility. He showed compassion. He showed faith.
Jesus was amazed, the Gospel says, and spoke aloud to the crowd around him: “I tell you, I have not found such great faith, even in Israel.”
How would our own faith compare?
It was a centurion’s faith, deeply rooted in serving, giving, caring, and trust, that amazed the Christ.
When we have that kind of faith, Jesus can do amazing things.