But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Romans weren’t known for their amazing faith – at least in anything credible. They were largely pagans, and if they believed in anything, it was in the host of Roman gods like Jupiter, Neptune and Mars. Often, they “believed,” hoping to get something in return. Other times, they showed a public faith because they were expected to, but privately, believed in nothing.
So, the world that Jesus was born into was one where the historic faith of Judaism was oppressed to some extent by the occupying forces of Rome, who thought the Jewish faith was a joke. Many of them probably thought their own gods were a joke.
In the midst of that spiritual stew appears a Roman centurion who shows more faith than almost anyone else in the Bible. While his superiors and underlings are certainly scornful of the Jews, and certainly of a simple Jewish carpenter, the centurion has somehow been exposed to the teachings of Jesus, and they’ve had an effect. And the faith that has resulted is put to the test.
At home, the centurion’s trusted servant lay dying, and with no cure in sight, the Roman makes a fateful decision – seek out the prophet and plead with Him for healing.
What’s maybe most remarkable about this centurion is his understanding of Jesus’ divinity and power. He tells Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant,[a] ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
And Jesus, after commending the man’s complete and utter faith, rewards him. By the time the centurion returned home, his servant had been healed. This one-time pagan, who had never seen Jesus before, came to complete faith in Him. And defying the conventions and beliefs of his own people, he was willing to risk quite a bit in order to seek healing from the Savior.
What kind of faith do you have in Jesus? Is it unwavering? What would you risk to show faith and devotion to Him? You may never have to step out and demonstrate your faith in a way that exposes you to ridicule and even punishment. But a true faith in Christ is at least willing to risk everything, just as Jesus did for us in His death. Today, pray that the Lord will strengthen your faith and resolve, should you ever be faced with a time of trial.
Reflection copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.