After Jesus had completed His ‘Sermon on the Plain’ He set out for Capernaum and as He was headed there a group of Jewish Elders approached Him with a request. They were pleading for a Roman Centurion, a Gentile; a commander of many Roman troops, for his servant was seriously ill and in need of healing. The Centurion, in spite of appearances, was a good man, probably a God-fearing Gentile, and these Jewish Elders were quite earnest in their pleas, so Jesus set off for the man’s house to heal his servant. As Jesus and His party got close to the house, there was another message from the Centurion:
He 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.” (7:6-8)
Looking at the second message, two things are instantly clear: First, the Centurion is a humble man, a man who has been strong enough to rise through the military ranks, but who has not allowed his success to go to his head. Second, he is a man who seems to understand that Jesus has authority over nature, that Jesus’ Word is powerful and active, that Jesus is not just another itinerant preacher.
Jesus was amazed at his faith. “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”
Jesus sent the messengers back and when they arrived the servant was fine. I wonder if the Centurion was surprised… I’m betting that he wasn’t, so great was his faith. Have you ever wondered why we pray for things, and when God grants our request we are so often surprised?
It’s something to think about.