Have you ever made a deal based on just a handshake, or taking someone’s word? It takes some real trust to give up something that we’re selling, when we don’t receive payment at the same time. For certain family members or good friends, this isn’t a big deal, but I rarely see car dealers offering to let me take a vehicle based on just a promise to pay them back (without some sort of collateral or traceable personal information).
Once in a while, when I have been extended trust like this (“sure, go ahead and borrow my car”), I am honored…and I am also especially compelled to take good care of whatever has been entrusted to me. Jesus also pointed out that we should sometimes lend even without expecting to be paid pack (see Luke 6:35). While this article isn’t about that command, I encourage you to read all of Luke 6:27-41.
Take a look at the follow statement of a centurion (a Roman, I suppose), as recorded in the book of Matthew:
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Matthew 8:8 NIV
It is one thing for this centurion to have reached out to a member of a people group that was under the rule of the Roman Empire. Like Naaman had done centuries before (see 2 Kings 5), though, he was willing to come to Jesus and humbly ask for help.
Even more than that, though, the centurion was comfortable leaving Jesus – the source of healing for his servant – without actually having received confirmation that his request had been addressed. As a military leader, the centurion could have compelled Jesus to come to his house, or he could have kept Jesus in his sight until a messenger brought back confirmation of the healing.
The centurion saw the bigger picture here, understanding that Jesus had the real power. Regardless of his military authority or the relative economic power of the empire that he represented, the centurion understood that he was the one receiving something that he could not get from anyone else, nor could he pay any price for the healing he sought. So, like a car dealer handing over both keys and the title, without a contract or credit card number to secure payment, the centurion knew that Jesus would keep His word.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus made some bold statements, but He was able to back all of them up. Just as this centurion was confident that he could return home with confidence in Jesus’ word, countless other followers of Jesus trust Him to act according to His promises.
For many who don’t see Jesus as just a good teacher, but rather as the God of the universe, faith in His ability to make a tangible difference in the world has proved to be life-changing (and, that power is still in effect, today). This faith isn’t just a wish or optimistic viewpoint, though. God’s work in one’s life is not simply a matter of positive thinking, or self-fulfilling “self-prophecies”. Instead, it is confidence, based on observation, facts, and history. It represents the security of understanding the influence of a real, all-powerful Person, who loves His people perfectly.
The result of this conversation with Jesus proved that this centurion’s faith was placed in One who was worthy of this faith. May we seek the same certainty and humility that he did, and watch for the blessings that Jesus gives us through His power.
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
Matthew 8:13 NIV
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.