“Jesus said to him, “I come and heal him.”
Matthew 8:7 (context, vv. 5-13)
See the remarkable faith of a Roman centurion. Can we really fathom the deep depth of such belief? He comes to Jesus with a desire for the healing of a servant. He was doing something that a Gentile would never stoop to do. He sought the healing from a homeless itinerant teacher who happened to be a Jew.
This Roman soldier was an enemy. They occupied the land of Israel. If Jesus decided to withhold a healing (to make a point) this was the time! I’m guessing that His refusal would be a good lesson to the disciples, and the watching crowds.
Although the numbers under the command of the centurion varied, he commonly oversaw up to 6,000 men. In battle, they took position in the very front, they were expected to be the first over a wall or through a breach. The centurion was responsible for every aspect of his men. Every centurion of Rome was expected to display ultimate courage on the battlefield.
Typically it took 15-20 hard years to become a centurion. Service was very difficult, living conditions were rough at best. The centurion was not married, he had no family. To be a centurion’s servant you would be responsible for every aspect of his master’s needs. But most of all, the servants became the centurion’s only family. They stayed with him for the duration of his service.
I suppose this explains much. The servant was paralyzed. The text in Matthew says that he was suffering terribly. No doubt the centurion sought out doctors and treatments, but apparently this didn’t help. He was at wit’s end and really didn’t know what to do. I suppose being helpless will often turn people to Jesus.
Jesus seems to have developed a reputation. Those in need, the desperate, sought out His healing power. It seems like that He was now becoming famous for His ability to heal diseases. It’s interesting but scripture clearly shows that Jesus really didn’t want to be this famous. He repeatedly told people not to tell anyone about their healing.
We can see the centurion’s respect for rank and authority.
He explains his own authority over his own soldiers. When he commands he is obeyed without question. He recognizes command and leadership. This man fully understands, and he clearly acknowledges the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ.
“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,”
“Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
Emulating this man’s faith is the true task of every believer. We must continually put ourselves under the authority of Jesus. His lordship is to be supreme. His rule over us should never be questioned. He commands everything, and we must obey without any reservation. This new depth of faith must now become our true calling.
A couple of observations. 1) There exists a “quality” kind of faith in comparison to a weaker faith. There seems to be degrees of faith. 2) Quality faith recognizes the true authority and supreme lordship of Jesus. 3) Quality faith can be seen in very strange places. 4) This quality faith is meant to be sought and imitated. It is meant to be recognized by every disciple.
“Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives.”