After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.
Wow! I wish I had as much faith and humility as the centurion! He is so opposite from how we tend to think these days. We are a culture of entitlement. We think that just because we’re Christians and we do this or that good thing we deserve to have our prayers answered just the way we want them. But the centurion understands that compared to Jesus he is a downright sinner. He doesn’t even deserve to be under the same roof, he says. This sort of humility breeds deep faith, like the kind of faith the centurion has in Jesus’s authority. (And I’m not even going into how freaking amazingly the centurion understands Jesus’s, authority. What a great metaphor! Wow!) Compare that to us. We don’t trust God to do anything. Instead we try to take care of everything ourselves. Probably since we lack humility we think we’re capable of taking care of everything ourselves. *shakes head*
And you notice how the Jews say to Jesus, “Hey, this guy deserves a miracle because he’s nice to us, and he built a temple.” They see good works as a free pass to God’s good graces. But Jesus proclaims the man’s deep faith instead. He says He’s never seen anyone with such faith, not even a Jew. And so it’s his faith, not his works, that lead to his slave being healed. (Side note, that deep faith is probably what caused him to do good things like building the temple in the first place. A la what I talked about in Luke 6.)
Contrast all that with Jesus raising the dead man. This second story is unique because nowhere does Jesus talk about faith, forgiveness, or anything like that. Instead He heals this man just because He feels sorry for his mom. This really shows the heart of Jesus. He loves us, and He wants us to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, this is earth, and all health and happiness is temporary. Both the man and his mom will die in time. (Geez, that turned into a downer real quick…) But God loves them both so much that He will raise them yet again in the Kingdom of Heaven where we can be happy and healthy forever! I guess this story is a very literal foreshadowing of the Gospel message.