Faith like a child means seeing everything as an adventure: wild animals and powerful words so easily reviled by the “grown ups” who are too lofty and wise to be able to bring themselves to even crack a smile.
I’m doing some catch-up reading for the Foundations New Testament plan, and I noticed some connections between Luke 7 and 8.
Luke 7 tells the story of the centurion with the dying servant who begs Jesus for healing. Luke 8 tells the story of Jesus stilling the stormy sea while crossing over with the disciples.
I tried to sketch out the similarities and contrasts between the two events on a single piece of blue-bar paper. The first image is the whole thing (with some comments); the second and third are each the passages from chapter 7 and 8 by themselves.
The centurion in chapter 7 has a good relationship with the Jewish community, and the elders he sends to Jesus plead on his behalf, noting his benevolence and generosity make him worthy of having his request granted. The centurion himself, however, asserts his unworthiness twice. For a man with considerable power, he’s remarkably humble.
He then tells Jesus he understands Jesus has the authority to command healing, just as he commands soldiers and servants. In fact, I believe his last example (“…and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it”) refers to the very servant he wants healed. The one command that cannot be obeyed is, “Be healed.” But if Jesus gives that command, it will be obeyed, he believes.
Jesus is amazed (Greek thaumazo) when He hears this. It’s unusual to find such great faith, even in Israel, where it should be readily found. The centurion had heard about Jesus and believed; “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” Romans 10:17 tells us. He hadn’t seen Jesus; he had only heard of him. Yet he believed Jesus could do the one thing he could not, sight unseen. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe,” Jesus would tell Thomas later (John 20:29).
Contrast that great faith with the lack of it shown by the disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee in Luke 8. Presumably, the disciples knew at least as much—likely much more—than the centurion about Jesus. Their responses to desperate situations are drastically different.
The centurion humbly and meekly “requests” Jesus’ help (“Lord, don’t trouble yourself”). The disciples, on the other hand, “came and woke Jesus up, saying”—likely screaming—”Master, Master, we’re going to die!”
In both instances, Jesus issues a command that is immediately obeyed. Jesus asks them, “Where is your faith?” The great faith not found in Israel includes not finding it (yet) in the disciples.
The disciples see Jesus command the storm (and be obeyed), and they are amazed (thaumazo, the same word used to describe Jesus in chapter 7). They ask the question, “Who then is this?”, an interesting contrast to the centurion’s simple faith after he “heard about Jesus” and knew enough to believe.
“But say the word,” the centurion says. Better, deeper, he believes. Jesus invites us to hear Him speak in His word and believe Him.
Put your hand to the circular door; Step out of the safety of the hole. Invisible G-runes, like notched trees, Unbeknownst yet inexorably Driving toward forests and stone trolls, Glittering Arkenstone, untold more.
The womb-warm Shire remembered, behind, Yet further ahead at journey’s end.
The quaking earth; mountains tossed in the sea; Nations toppling, kings rising and falling; The daily rise of the sun in the east; The birds in the springtime: lovers calling; The raging, defiant, sinner’s screed: Wicked, wolfish, evil caterwauling; The love and mercy from eternity: A delights-river ever enthralling.
Leap into promise-proved gravity well. The currents run strong through those depths; no living man can tell their full extent, it’s just impossible. But glory always has an immense gravity: so jump, let the currents carry you well beyond the imaginable–– you, specifically you. Believe, handle, hear the truth, love for you. Leap.
Lord, I thank You that You are not like me, For I am full of greed and lust and hate; But You, a fountain flowing with mercy, A wealth of love for sinners in dire straits. Every penitent You will welcome, Even the publican beating his breast; You need no tithes of spices and income, On a thousand hills your cattle find rest. You prefer mercy over vanity; You find delight in helpless, humble faith. I am not worthy to even be seen, And yet to me––me!––You lift up Your face. I take no comfort but in Your esteem, In You I find love for eternity.