"Jesus was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
"When Jesus heard this, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said: I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel!" Luke 7:6-9
Do you see what the centurion was doing? He was casting himself upon the Lordship of Christ. Divine grace had so wondrously opened his eyes that he realized he was standing in the presence of the One who said, "Let there be light" — and there was light. He said, "Let the earth bring forth" — and it brought forth. And He had only to say concerning his servant, "Be healed," and the centurion knew that he would be healed. He realized that he was standing in the presence of the Lord of creation, the One who had absolute control over all the powers of nature. As Matthew 8:8 puts it, "Only speak the word — and my servant shall be healed."
"When Jesus heard this, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said: I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel!" It is the only time in the New Testament that we ever read that Christ marveled at anyone. As dear old Spurgeon used to put it, "What a marvel it was, that the Son of God should marvel."
There is one other instance recorded in the four Gospels where Christ spoke of someone having great faith. There is one other person mentioned in the Gospels who had great faith — only two persons in the Gospels. Will you remember the law of contrast and comparison? Just look up those two passages and work out the details. You will find a series of very striking comparisons and contrasts between them. "Jesus replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." "Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour!" Matthew 15:26-28
Many times in the New Testament, we find Christ saying, "O you of little faith" (Mat 6:30; 16:8; 8:26) Only twice did He acknowledge the greatness of faith.
I am afraid that there are many who have a very erroneous idea of what great faith is. Some of you think that doing a work like George Muller did, that nothing short of that, is great faith. Or going out to the ends of the earth to a foreign country with no guarantee behind you, and trusting in the Lord supplying your needs when you get there — is great faith, and nothing else is as great faith. Now, you are wrong, absolutely wrong, and I am very anxious to put you right for the comfort of your own hearts.
Great faith, in the light of this incident in this passage here, is first a realization of the Lordship of Christ. That is what great faith is, it is a realization of the Lordship, the absolute sufficiency, the almighty power, of Christ, who only has to speak and it is done.
Second, great faith is evidenced by a lowly submission to Him, an implicit confidence in His word. "Only speak the word" (Mat 8:8). That is how great faith expresses itself. Listen!
Thirdly, great faith is accompanied by great humility, and if you do not have the one, you certainly do not have the other. The man Christ said had great faith is the man who felt that he was not even worthy to approach unto Him.
That is the great faith man of the Bible. Great faith is not expressed always in great deeds as men count them. That is a false standard of measurement and that is why I want to disabuse your minds. Some of you little ones in Christ, some of you whom God has made to feel your littleness — have no hope of ever attaining unto great faith. That is because you have a wrong conception of what great faith is.
The man of great faith, is the man who has been made to realize his own nothingness. That is great faith and Christ says so. It was said to the man who said, "I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you!" The Lord said he had got great faith.
Great faith is accompanied by great humility.
The last thing is that great faith expresses itself in making requests from Christ and counting on Him to grant them.