When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him? The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just 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.” 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…” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. Matthew 8:5–10, 13 (abridged)
Following last week’s opener, Jesus continues to blow apart the people’s preconceptions as he exercises his authority, bringing healing to the Gentiles. When a Roman soldier asks for help, Jesus responds by asking if he should go to his house to heal the man. The soldier, however, wants to avoid Jesus becoming ceremonially unclean from entering a Gentile’s house. So the centurion applies the principles of faith and authority to the situation. As a man under authority who obeys the words of his superiors, and as one who has men serving under him, he believes that if Jesus just says the word, his servant will be healed.
And so it was. This miracle signals that the new kingdom is not limited to Jewish people but is available to Gentiles as well. It is also a stark warning to those in Israel who may have grown complacent in their status as the chosen people. Never, said Jesus, has he found someone of such great faith. Those listening must have felt stunned by this remark.
Do we take our faith for granted? How could you exercise faith this day? And how do you feel about being under authority?
For reflection: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:5).