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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington 2014

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Luke’s second use of ‘Faith’ is a return to ‘The Centurion’s Servant’ event. Having revisited the discussion on Matthew’s ‘Centurion’s Servant’ encounter with Jesus (Matt 8:8ff), I recall now the revelation given in that column— it is the first occurrence in New Testament of both words: ‘logos’ (word) and ‘pistis’ (faith). The first time either of these two words are used in scripture is in the mouth of Jesus and used together to experience the centurion in his concern for the illness of ‘o pais mou’. (I’ve added the phrase because in this rare interpretation as servant, the term ‘pais’ is most always used for child or, here in the masculine, boy or son).”

Knowing that I was at a critical text, I put a call in to my only New Testament professor who is still teaching at ITC, Dr. Wayne Merritt (in fact, my New Testament Greek Language professor) in order to be in dialogue with him concerning this text. Being the Christmas season, I left a voice message and passed on by. I want you to know that for 5 months, I have carried this paragraph looking at it from week to week ‘knowing’ that ‘it shall be’ dealt with. Now, approaching Luke’s version of ‘The Centurion’s Servant’ and his second use of ‘pistis/faith’

“Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying 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 say the word, and let my servant be healed. 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.”

To begin with, my ‘second Bible’ is ‘The Gospel Parallels’. It is a Biblical studies tool that I have had since it’s required purchase and usage in my very first New Testament Literature course. The opening, ‘Introduction To Footnote References’, continues to be one of the best concise statements in introducing New Testament Manuscripts to include those written by the Church Fathers and Noncanonical Gospels. I found the original Greek ‘Huck’ version at a flee market in Atlanta and have kept the two very close over the years in all my biblical studies work.

Again, today, a peculiarity surrounding this text. ‘The Parallels’ record a ‘double entry’ for Luke’s version— First, ‘The Centurion’s Servant’ identified as a ‘Double Tradition’, paralleled with Matthew and silent in Mark; and a second version of the same text ‘The Centurion’s Slave’ identified as a ‘Single Tradition’, Lucan account!

For those readers of this Column who ‘are in the Word’, I invite you to read this ‘Centurion’s Servant’ faith event in both records, (Matthew 8:5-13) and Luke 7:1-9 to enter with me into a text that is indeed ‘coming alive’.

I am so tempted to sing (I did tell you I was born in the choir?) The song in my head now says, “I serve a risen savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living, whatever men may say. I see His hand of mercy. I hear His voice of cheer. And just the time I need Him. He’s always here. He Lives! He Lives!… “

by email: mustardseedfaith@outlook.com

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