A. W. Tozer wrote: “True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God said it, and if the statement should contradict every one of the five senses and all the conclusions of logic as well, still the believer continues to believe. ‘Let God be true, but every man a liar,’ is the language of true faith.”
The Roman centurion in today’s story exhibited this kind of absolute trust. A centurion was a military officer in charge of one hundred soldiers. He had gained a certain respect and standing in the Jewish community, so much so that the parallel account says that Jewish leaders interceded on his behalf (Luke 7:1–10).
The centurion’s attitude toward Jesus combined humility and faith. When he said, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof” (v. 8), he was expressing more than sensitivity to Jewish purity laws that declared a Jew who entered a Gentile house to be ceremonially unclean. His words communicated high respect and a sense of his own unworthiness before Christ. He also demonstrated great faith in Jesus’ power and authority to heal by using an analogy from his military experience (v. 9). “Just say the word”—and I know it will be done, he was saying. His trust was well placed, because that is exactly what happened (v. 13).
Jesus was “amazed” (v. 10), the only time the Gospels describe Him as feeling that emotion for positive reasons. Jesus said He had not met a Jew with such great faith, an observation that may have irritated some of His listeners. Jesus didn’t stop there, either. He took the opportunity to proclaim faith, not Jewish identity, as the most important condition for entering the kingdom of God (vv. 11–12).