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Read Matthew 8.
Here in the first half of Matthew 8 we have several stories about Jesus healing people. Each of these stories serves a purpose, but the one that always gets me thinking is the story of the centurion’s servant in verses 5-13.
The first thing that stands out about this story is the man’s humility. A centurion is a Roman soldier who is in charge of 100 other Roman soldiers. That is a very powerful man. He was certainly feared and, probably, deeply respected by everyone who met him or knew him. Of all the people Jesus was willing to visit at home, he was by far the most prestigious.
Despite all of that, the centurion didn’t want Jesus to come to his home because, he said, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof” (v. 8). He sized up Jesus and had great respect and maybe even some fear of him.
The next impressive thing about this centurion is his faith. According to verse 10, that impressed Jesus, too. Consider why Jesus said that he had the greatest faith: Not only does the Centurion believe that Jesus can heal his servant, but he believes that Jesus can do it remotely “But just say the word, and my servant will be healed” he told Jesus in verse 8.
What’s even more interesting, to me, is the centurion’s reason for believing that Jesus can heal remotely. He told us that reason in verse 9: “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.”
That’s it! That was all he said!
So what was his point?
His point was that he understood where Jesus ranked in the spiritual hierarchy.
In the Roman army, a centurion did not accomplish things by going personally everywhere there was an issue. No, a centurion gets things done through the soldiers that report to him. You’ve heard the old saying, “If you want something done, do it yourself?” The centurion’s statement in verse 9 is saying just the opposite. If he wants something done, the centurion DOESN’T do it himself; he orders one of his soldiers to do it. That’s the only efficient and effective way to lead 100 people. Leaders make decisions; followers carry those decisions out. The centurion understood that because that’s how he made his living.
So, what the centurion was implying was that Jesus was so powerful and so high-ranking spiritually that he can issue orders and stuff will get done. Say the word, and the servant will be healed, according to verse 8.
Did the centurion think that angels would do it? Who knows? And, it doesn’t matter. What he knew is that Christ can accomplish anything he wants merely by issuing orders. He didn’t even need to know the servant’s name, or his GPS coordinates, or anything. He has the power just to speak and it will happen.
Jesus found his faith amazing. “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” he said in verse 10.
What was so great about his faith?
In order for Jesus to heal someone remotely without knowing who the person is or where he resides, Jesus must be God. He must know all things to know who the sick servant is and where he is. He must have God’s authority to be able to accomplish things by issuing commands. Since all creation is under his authority, Jesus can use his authority to accomplish anything he wants.
What amazed Jesus was not that the centurion believed Jesus could heal. No, what amazed Jesus was the centurion’s recognition of who Jesus was and the centurion’s faith in Jesus. Thousands of people believed Jesus could heal, but they were so focused on getting better that the missed what his healing power revealed about Jesus.
Christ remarked on the implications of this in verses 11-12. This Gentile had greater faith than any of Christ’s other followers. He had greater faith–at that point, at least–than any of the 12 apostles. He had greater faith than Jesus’ closest friends, Peter, James, and John.
To Christ, he was an example of what was to come. The “many [who] will come from the east and the west” are Gentiles, just like this Roman soldier was. Jesus said that these Gentiles will feast with “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (verse 11).
But many Jewish people who knew Messiah was coming, who were waiting for his kingdom, who saw Christ’s miracles and heard his words “will be thrown outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Why? Because they failed to recognize and believe that in that human body named Jesus resided the almighty God.
Have you put your faith in the powerful lordship of Jesus Christ? Do you believe that he can and will do whatever you ask for in faith if it is also God’s will?
Do you ask him in faith to give you what you want and need in his will?