Luke 7:8-9 For I 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 he does it." When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
The word for today is responsible. One is said to be responsible, if they have the capacity to choose for themselves between right and wrong. One is said to be responsible, if they are liable to be held to account for what they do and fail to do. One is said to be responsible, if one when found at fault, is subject to penalties. And one is said to be responsible, when one is found by their conduct, to be trustworthy and dependable.
We know that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen Ė but what faith looks like is someone who is trustworthy and reliable, without anyone compelling them to be that way. No one could compel God to be faithful. How could you put God on trial? How could you punish God for acting wrongly? God is faithful even when we are not. God is faithful even when by rights he should turn his back on us because we are the poor miserable sinners that we are.
That God is faithful, merciful, kind, benevolent and gracious is all part of the wonder of Godís love for us, as revealed in the scriptures, and in his plan of salvation, sending his only son to save us from sin, death and eternal damnation. God is responsible, he sends rain on the wicked and on the righteous, and he gives to all his creation everything needed for life.
Sometimes, however, we cannot see why things happen, and we doubt that we can trust him. Take the storms of the past week. How many people asked, what did they do to deserve this? How many people prayed to God during the storm, to make the storm go away, and feel that God let them down, because it didnít go away. And when it came time to clean up after the storm, how many people gave thanks to God Ė or did we grumble?
Jesus marvels at the centurionís faith Ė what did he see? The centurion was a very responsible person, he had authority, and people did what they were told without question. From soldiers to slaves everyone did what they were told to do, so one could say that they also were responsible, or trustworthy. Children, this is a good thing to remember: You should not need to be told to do something again and again. You should not need to be asked, did you hear what I said? It should not be necessary for your parents to check up on you, because when you hear something, you drop everything and do it.
But that is not what Jesus found remarkable. What was remarkable is that the centurion could see that Jesus was trustworthy, and even if he had no claim on Jesus, he was confident that if Jesus said he would do something, it would be done. And the centurion was confident that Jesus had the power to heal his servant, even at a distance, because the centurion could perceive that Jesus was the power of God at work in the world. The centurion saw he could rely on Jesus, because God is reliable.
And thatís faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Faith is believing the promise of God. May we all be seen to be people of faith.