The Gospel Of Luke

Luke 7:1-10 (CEV)

1After Jesus had finished teaching the people, he went to Capernaum. In that town an army officer’s servant was sick and about to die. The officer liked this servant very much. And when he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish leaders to ask him to come and heal the servant.

The leaders went to Jesus and begged him to do something. They said, “This man deserves your help! He loves our nation and even built us a meeting place.” So Jesus went with them.

When Jesus wasn’t far from the house, the officer sent some friends to tell him, “Lord, don’t go to any trouble for me! I am not good enough for you to come into my house. And I am certainly not worthy to come to you. Just say the word, and my servant will get well. I have officers who give orders to me, and I have soldiers who take orders from me. I can say to one of them, ‘Go!’ and he goes. I can say to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes. I can say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ and he will do it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was so surprised that he turned and said to the crowd following him, “In all of Israel I’ve never found anyone with this much faith!”

10 The officer’s friends returned and found the servant well.

Flabbergasted

Do you ever find yourself getting cynical? Find yourself accepting stereotypes or making assumptions about people based on their race or their gender or their affiliations or their place in society?

“People will be the way people will be.”

“What did you expect from a …”

“That’s just the way ______ people are.”

Well the Jews of the first century weren’t really any different. They may have disagreed over whether to follow the Sadducees or Pharisees, whether to escape the world or engage with the world, whether to fight the occupation passively or actively. But all of them knew one thing: the Romans were the enemy. The Roman soldiers were the enemy embodied. There could be questions about one Jew or another, but there were no questions about a Roman soldier. Everybody knew.

Until one day.

Until one day a Roman soldier broke all the rules.

Until one day a Roman soldier turned into a real human being who was compassionate towards his servant, generous and supportive towards the religious beliefs of those he had been sent to subjugate, and full of faith in the one sent to bring hope to the Jews.

And it’s a weird thing, but the text today says that Jesus was surprised. It’s weird to think of the God of the Universe being surprised by something happening, except that we are told that Jesus is both fully human and fully God.

And this feels like a fully human moment.

This feels like a fully human moment because we humans have a habit of wanting to simplify the world around us. Wanting to make blanket statements. Wanting to categorize people and put them into boxes, because it makes it easier for us to deal with the complexity of the world around us.

But when I do that, I miss out on the truth in the person right in front of me.

When I do that, I risk passing people by, writing them off before I’ve even had a chance to get to know them. You’re from ‘that camp’ over there. You dress like this. You hang out with people like this. You are affiliated with this group that I don’t agree with. And with these conclusions I make the assumption that I don’t need to get to know you, because I already know who you are.

If Jesus can be flabbergasted by someone breaking out of how they are expected to think and behave then I think it’s safe to assume that I might get my categories wrong, too, from time to time.

So today I will follow the flabbergasted Jesus and see what miracle his surprise takes me to.

Journal Questions:

  1. Do you ever find yourself jumping to conclusions about a person because of their race, political affiliation, socioeconomic status or otherwise?
  2. Interestingly enough, the Pharisees in this village know this man well enough to vouch for him to Jesus. Is there anyone you need to get to know personally across one of these divides?
  3. The soldier is praised for his extreme faith – held out as more faithful than anyone in Israel. Is there an area where God is calling you to choose radical faith? What would that look like?