Now here in today’s reading is a Jesus I can identify with. Jesus had been raised in the Jewish community. His whole life he had been raised to believe that the Jewish people were God’ s chosen. So it’ s no surprise that Jesus was taken off guard when faith was expressed so clearly through a centurion. The centurion was not only faithful, but also eloquent and humble. A man of responsibility and power, he offered Jesus the respect due a peer or an equal, though Jesus held no office and commanded no armies. This was a surprising faith that “amazed” Jesus. Funny that Jesus was not surprised and did not even seem affected by his own supernatural ability to heal, but he was startled by the faith of a centurion. Maybe this was a turning point in Jesus’ own life and ministry –a time when he discovered that the good news he was preaching was actually reaching beyond the bounds of his own culture and community. I love the idea of a Jesus who gets surprised. I think it’ s the same for God. I imagine God is pleasantly surprised and even delighted when we show extraordinary, unexpected moments of faith. We might even surprise ourselves. Perhaps it’ s a job offer we intended to take and at the last moment, we decline because God has placed on our hearts something else to do with our time. Maybe we intend to scold and shame someone who has clearly wronged us, and at the moment of truth we offer forgiveness instead. There are many ways our faith can surprise Jesus and even us. What fun it is to keep our eyes open so that we see it when it happens!
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.