STORIES OF FAITH – The Centurion
Matthew 8:8 – Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Of all the people most likely to see the truth of who Jesus was, a centurion would have to be last on your list. A gentile of pagan religion; A Roman officer policing Jewish citizens. How it happened we do not know but somehow his eyes had been opened. Rabbi Jesus was becoming very well-known because he didn’t just teach at his local synagogue but travelled constantly throughout the whole province. Matthew 4 tells us, ‘He went through all Galilee, teaching… and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom… so his fame spread through all Syria… and great crowds followed him from the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan’.
The centurion lived in Capernaum, which is also where Jesus lived after leaving Nazareth, so he definitely would have heard about Jesus, but I think it had to be more personal than that. He must have heard Jesus with his own ears and the power of the Holy Spirit opened his heart to the truth. When his servant became sick, he knew there was only one who could help. He hadn’t seen the teacher about for a while so he asked around and left instructions that as soon as anyone caught sight of him, they were to come and inform him immediately (personal conjecture).
When Jesus arrived back in Capernaum, the centurion wasted no time in coming and appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” The Lord replied that He would come and heal him but the soldier said no, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. He told Jesus that he understood authority, both having it and being under it, so all he required of the Lord was for him to say the word. Jesus marvelled at this man’s faith saying, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith” and then turning to the soldier, said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.”
FAITH: – having it – keeping it – exercising it – believing it – but above all, never losing sight of it.