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Pastoral Letter 29th May
A pastoral letter Principles of great faith! 29 May 2016
The story of the believing centurion is probably the best example of great faith in the New
Testament. Jesus was so impressed with the centurion’s faith, he remarked that he had not found
such great faith in Israel — the entire Jewish nation. One might think that such faith should have
emerged from one of the religious leaders of the day, such as the Scribes or Pharisees, most of
whom had been students of the scriptures from their early youth. But this man was not even a Jew,
but a gentile. To make matters more unique, he was a soldier in the Roman army, whose military
occupation of Palestine was viewed with disdain by most Jews.
Ironic as it may seem, it isn’t always the religious leaders, ministers, or theologians who aspire
toward spiritual things. Often, it is the unsuspecting layman, the housewife, the farmer, the soldier
or other humble, common people who demonstrate great faith in God. We must never lose sight
that the Gospel is a simple message which has no respect of persons, nor requires any special
credentials to believe it. The legacy of the centurion is recorded without benefit of his name, but the
title of his rank tells us that he was an officer with authority over 100 men. He was probably
already a believer when he approached Jesus, seeing that he expressed such unusual
comprehension of Christ’s authority and identity.
Note that at no time did the centurion actually ask Jesus to heal the servant. He came to the Lord
with a somber report of his servant’s suffering, but stopped short of making any request for
healing. Apparently he was trying to assess the Lord’s will in the matter, awaiting his response to
the crisis at hand. Perhaps he was hesitant of how Jesus would respond to the request of a non-Jew,
especially since he was a soldier in the unpopular Roman army. Or maybe he wondered whether
Jesus would even consider taking the time to help a mere servant.
Without hesitation, Jesus voluntarily offered to the centurion, “I will come and heal him” (Matt.
8:7). There were no more questions whether it was the Lord’s will to heal the servant. Not only was
Jesus willing, but by his own suggestion, was ready to go out of his way to the centurion’s home to
perform the healing. What encouragement this must have been, to sense Jesus’ compassion, to
witness His eagerness to bring relief and healing to a poor sick soul of low estate.
The centurion’s humble, confident response to all this was most remarkable. In essence he said,
“Lord, I’m unworthy to have you as a guest in my home, but because I am a man with authority
and am acquainted with giving orders to others, I understand your authority, and know that all you
have to do is speak your word and my servant will be healed” (Matt. 8:5-10).
From the account of the centurion, there are four important principles which we learn about great
(1) Great faith begins as a follower of Christ, knowing him personally, realizing his divine
(2) The motives of great faith are pure, and are in harmony with the will of God.
(3) Great faith has a humble heart, cognizant of the grace and compassion of God,
whereby He loves and blesses us.
(4) Great faith has a complete trust in the dependability of God’s Word, and accepts it as
fact above any other evidence or circumstance.
God’s Word is the very basis of our faith.
May God encourage you to follow these principles of great faith!
Archdeacon David Grobbelaar
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