In Luke chapter 7 we meet the Roman centurion who sought Jesus to heal his servant. He changes our perception of a typical Roman soldier, especially considering a centurion had 100 men under him. They occupied the area of Capernaum when Jesus arrived there some time after his Sermon on the Plain in chapter 6. We are told in Luke 7: 2-10, the story of the centurion’s sick servant and his belief Jesus could heal him.
There are words which unveil the character of this particular man. When describing his relationship with his servant, Luke uses the term, verse 2: “whom his master valued highly.” (NIV). The empathy he has for this servant is most likely from a long term relationship with him, in my perception, for he must have valued him for his loyalty and trustworthiness as a servant. More than that, I believe, he had grown quite fond of him as the relationship grew.
We learn in verse 3: “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.” This may have been because he had sought help and nothing had worked, so at a critical stage he was driven to ask the man he had heard could heal miraculously. But it seems a bit more complex than that on closer inspection. Why didn’t the centurion find Jesus and ask himself for his help or send another soldier or servant? Why did he ask “some elders of the Jews” to go ask Jesus for him? Was this uncharacteristic approach a sign of respect for whom he had come to understand was perhaps the anticipated Messiah? Or was it a revealing sign of the relationship which had been cultivated between the Roman soldiers and the Jews, much like today’s American soldiers abroad who seek to gain the trust of citizens in territories they are assigned? Or perhaps was it both?
In either case he did not feel worthy to ask himself. Verse 6 says “So Jesus went with them.” But before Jesus could arrive at his house, he sent friends to say to him (verse 7) “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.” This expression says he considers Jesus as someone “under authority” to heal. He believes in his heart Jesus can perform this miracle by a simple word. He has come to know Jesus, though he has never met him. He became a man of faith.
Verse 9 says: “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’ ” Which perhaps means: Even though the man had never seen him perform a miracle, he believed in Him. So many people saw Him perform miracles, yet they did not have faith in Him. Knowing of one who he had never met having faith “amazed him.” Probably even more so because the man was a Roman centurion.
Jesus has performed many miracles in my life. Even in light of that, there have been times when my faith was tested and I came up short on belief. In those times I’m expecting His answer to be an outcome I want or expect. Being human I’m having to remind myself His ways are not my ways and His ways are exceedingly superior to human ways. When I’m willing to accept His answer, no matter the outcome, I’m spiritually healthier and therefore happier. I am writing this for future reference. I must remember to be the centurion. When he knew Jesus was coming he had his answer. He knew his servant would be healed. He BELIEVED he would be healed.
© copyright Dec 2017….Phyllis Rogers