We get to hear Luke’s account of the centurion and his servant today. Luke gives us more details than Matthew did. Luke shares that Jesus was met by two groups in the process of the servant’s healing. Both groups were sent by the centurion and came in his name, bringing Jesus his request.
I want to look at our centurion first. To me he is an extraordinary man. He has risen in the ranks of the Roman army while maintaining a caring attitude towards those he governs. This was not a compatible attitude for a Roman soldier. They were expected to be ruthless and fierce, especially to those they were ruling over. I’m wondering if our centurion got his position through politics, rising through the ranks, or family status. I’m voting for politics because of family above every other option. Our centurion apparently cares for his soldiers, the Jewish people and even his servants. He is also a humble man, as will be borne out later in our story.
Let’s look now at the people who met Jesus along the way. The first group who met Jesus loved the centurion and earnestly sought Jesus’ help on his behalf. According to the first group, the centurion had even built their synagogue. They were very beholding to him.
Something I find interesting is that these were the “elders of the Jews” who were seeking help from Jesus. Would any of these men become part of the group who condemned Jesus a few years later? Were they willing to seek Jesus because they believed in Him or because they were personally requested to by the centurion?
Jesus quickly agreed to help the centurion’s servant. Was Jesus coming on behalf of the centurion, his servant, or the group who came to Him? Jesus never even interacted with the servant. We don’t even know if the servant was Jewish or Roman. Apparently it didn’t even matter to Jesus. He came regardless. He was accompanied by the first group as He made His way to the centurion’s home. I wonder how far along they were before the second group met them.
The second group was made up of regular friends of the centurion. Were these regular Jewish citizens or Roman citizens? Did they have any political clout? Why were they chosen? Did they follow Jesus’ teaching? When they came to Him they were bringing a direct request from the centurion. He felt unworthy to even have Jesus continue His journey towards his house. “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof… But say the word, and let my servant be healed” (verse 6-7).
These friends faithfully carried the centurion’s message to Jesus. In Matthew’s account we learn that Jesus actually interacted with the centurion himself. Apparently this group of friends didn’t deter Him from reaching the centurion. Jesus presses on.
Our centurion’s faith is what impresses Jesus the most. Not the political weight he carried to mobilize this many elders. Not the number of friends he could summon up to carry his message. But his understanding of Jesus’ authority and absolute conviction that whatever Jesus said would come to pass. Jesus did not disappoint him or his servant.
Jesus praised the faith He found in the centurion to those accompanying Him. The elders, the friends, Jesus’ disciples and anyone else in hearing range heard Jesus’ praise concerning the centurion’s faith. I wonder if Jesus’ words made any of them examine their own faith.
Father God, thank You for sending Jesus into our human world. Thank You Jesus for taking the time to tend to meet our needs. You tended to each need, regardless of the social or political status of the person. Here You cared for a lowly servant. You used the centurion to bring his need before You. It was probably life and death for this servant but the centurion could have chosen to turn a blind eye to his servants’ pain. Thank You for touching his heart with compassion. You touched many lives that day with that single healing. The servant’s, the onlookers and even the centurion’s. None of them would ever be the same again after that encounter.
Thank You for the opportunities to grow our faith that You bring to us. Thank You also that You don’t leave us alone to learn these lessons of faith. That You walk with us through each of the trials that grows our faith. Thank You that I can trust You to have everything well in hand and under Your authority. Just like the centurion said, You are a Man of authority and whatever You say WILL come to pass. Keep growing my faith until I am as sure as the centurion was that day.