Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at the Vibe, West, and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.
When Jesus healed the servant of the faithful centurion, he did so because of the centurion’s faith. The passage tells us that Jesus was even amazed at the man’s faith, and he goes on to say that he hasn’t found such a faith even in Israel. But what was so amazing about the centurion’s faith?
Roman military units were viciously effective in battle because they stuck together no matter what. They covered each other with their own shields. They attacked as a single unit. They would gladly give their lives for the sake of the unit. So when the centurion suggests that all of creation has this kind of obedience, this kind of loyalty, to Jesus, that’s kind of a big deal. That’s a pretty powerful faith.
But I think the truly amazing thing about this man’s faith wasn’t its power but its sheer tenacity. In choosing to acknowledge Jesus as God, he turned his back on his Roman gods, probably much to the dismay of his fellow Roman centurions. This may have undermined some of his authority as a leader. And he probably didn’t get much help from Jewish believers, who mostly hated the Romans. The story had moved along much further by the time he asks Jesus for help, but the fact that he even got there is a truly amazing story. He had every reason to turn away from the son of God, and it is because he chose not to that his story is amazing.
We read about this man’s faith and we’re amazed, inspired, drawn to it. But I wonder if we were there when the centurion first showed up in town, would we be the Jewish believers who gave him a hard time? If someone who went against everything we stood for showed up at one of our worship services, how would we react? This centurion had to build a synagogue to gain the trust of the Jewish believers. What would one of these people have to do to gain our trust?
It’s important to remember this moving into Easter, one of two days a year where people who wouldn’t ordinarily set foot in a church do just that. And people who go against everything we stand for could very well walk in those doors, and I’m betting most of them do not have the money to build a synagogue for us.
It’s true that a great many people are dragged to church on Easter by family. But I wonder how many would truly be looking to reconnect if we welcomed them with open arms, if we were glad to see them even once or twice a year and respected them the same way we respected our most pious Christian friends.
Remember this Easter that we are all on equal footing with God, no matter our past, no matter our deeds, no matter our status in life. Remember that those who seem to stand against us may grow to be our most powerful allies.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.