"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." (Luke 7:6-8)
"such great faith even in Israel"
This comes from the fact that the nation of Israel - Ἰσραήλ (Israēl) was considered to be a people who at the time largely followed the tenets of the Jewish teachings related to the five books of the Torah. Jesus was part of this heritage, as his family also attended the Jewish temples, as did Jesus from time to time.
But Jesus was not a follower of ecclesiastical Jewish temple teachers. He was a follower and student of John the Baptist - who had baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. And John the Baptist was not an ecclesiastical Jewish teacher. Rather, he carried on the mission brought forward through the lineage of true representatives of God - including Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job, and so on.
And John was a student of Zachariah, a devoted Jewish priest, who was in the lineage of these teachers.
Jesus was also part of this lineage, as he took baptism - same as anointing - from John.
John was God's representative - a messenger of God. This is why Jesus accepted him as his Teacher, and carried on John's ministry when John was imprisoned.
How do we know that Jesus carried on John's ministry? The evidence is right in the Scriptures:
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 3:2)
From that time on [after Jesus had heard of John's imprisonment] Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt. 4:17)Jesus instructed his own disciples to teach the same teaching:
"Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.'" (Matt. 10:5-7)Meanwhile, the ecclesiastical Jewish institutions of Israel had become poisoned by political positioning and strife as they jostled for positions of authority amongst the people and the Romans. This positioning for authority within the Jewish temple organizations - the two primary being the Pharisees and Sadducees - attracted those who sought political power over others. This changed these organizations from being devoted to the Supreme Being to being primarily politically oriented.
Jesus and John's mission
Jesus and John's mission were to call the Jewish people back to the core teachings of Moses, those of loving God. This is the real meaning of "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." To "repent" - from the Greek μετανοέω (metanoeō)) - means to have a change of heart. It means to change ones consciousness from being self-centered to being God-centered.
And God is near because He is available to each of us. He is nearby.
In fact, ecclesiastical sectarian teachers today still overlook these primary injunctions of Moses relating to loving God. Consider the importance of this element of Moses' teachings evidenced by these verses:
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deut. 6:5)
"Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, His decrees, His laws and His commands always." (Deut 11:1)
"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today - to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut 11:13)
"If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow - to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to hold fast to Him - " (Deut. 11:22)
"because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today - to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways - " (Deut. 19:19)
"For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws" (Deut. 30:16)
"and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life...." (Deut. 30:20)After Moses, Moses' student Joshua also carried this message forward:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)
"So be very careful to love the LORD your God." (Joshua 23:11)So while Jesus certainly ascribed to the teachings of Moses and the other Jewish Saints of the Old Testament, he did not agree with the then-current teachings of the Jewish scribes. He criticized them often, saying things like:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are." (Matt. 23:13-15)These and other statements indicate that Jesus was trying to save the Jewish people, and he followed the teachings of the Jewish Saints. But he did not condone the ecclesiastical Jewish temple organizations and their power-hungry teachers who were misleading people about the teachings of those Saints like Moses.
These ecclesiastical Jewish teachers - the pharisees and sadducees - were focused upon maintaining their authority by enforcing the letter of the rituals, yet they ignored the essence of the true teachings of those Jewish Saints - the teachings of love of God.
And ironically, many sectarian teachers and institutions of today have also fallen into the same trap. Their focus is upon maintaining rituals related to Jesus' torture on the cross, whilst they virtually ignore his teachings.
Jesus' teachings are reflected by this simple statement about the Roman Centurion. The word "faith" here is being translated from the Greek word πίστις (pistis). Is "faith" the correct translation of this word within this context?
No. The word πίστις (pistis) according to Thayer's lexicon means, "conviction of the truth of anything" and within this context, "a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust."
What is "trust"?
Trust is a personal notion. It is an element related to relying on someone. It is accepting that someone is reliable and trust-worthy.
Thus Jesus is not referring to some impersonal faith in a religion or an ecclesiastical temple organization. The Roman Centurion was trusting in Jesus. He was trusting that Jesus was speaking the Truth. He was trusting that Jesus was representing the Supreme Being.
We can easily take this away from this event because we already know that Jesus spoke out against the pharisees and the sadducees - two competing groups of the Jewish institution of those times.
Thus by the Centurion communicating his humility and reverence to Jesus - "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." - combined with Jesus' statement characterizing his "faith," we can understand that Jesus is referring to a personal trust of God and God's representative.
Jesus was ultimately trusting the Supreme Being.
Yes, Jesus was God's representative. He wasn't God as many sectarian teachers like to teach. He was God's loving servant, as indicated by his teachings and his prayers to God.
But trusting in Jesus as God's representative is also trusting in God. Just as an ambassador of a country receives the respect given to his country's government, such respect given to God's representative is thereby given to God.
This indicates that trusting in Jesus' teachings - taking them to heart and trying to practice them - is inseparable from trusting in God. This is the real meaning of faith: Trusting in the Supreme Being. Trusting that the Supreme Being has our best interests at heart, and trusting that if we follow the teachings of His representative, we will be able to return to Him, and our home in the spiritual realm.
And what were Jesus' primary teachings?
“The most important of all the instructions is, ‘Hear O Israel – the LORD our God is our only Lord – and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ – this is the most important instruction." (Mark 12:29-30)