The Centurion's Faith in Jesus-Luke 7:1-10, Matthew 8:5-13
Updated: May 31
I could hear the ruckus in the paddock from my office. The hooves hitting the barn door were incessant. The day I brought that beast home, I wondered if I was doing the right thing. The horse was massive in strength, but apparently unmanageable where no one could mount him. He reared up at anyone who approached him and stood defiant and unbroken. Years of mistreatment had done its damage, but it was my hope to restore the animal's trust in people. In time, he could be my companion in battle. Every centurion needs to have a horse that could face death without hesitation and stand high above other horses.
Unfortunately, I didn't consider the welfare of my servants who had the role of helping care for him. The horse would charge anyone entering the pen to bring food to the trough. Although all the handlers are very experienced, I still feel badly that I have caused them such aggravation and fear. It didn't dawn on me that it would draw in the fascination of my young servants, until one of them came racing into the room to beckon me to Demetri.
Rushing toward the scene, I quickly survey the situation. Someone to the side of me yells that Demetri was nearby when the horse barged through the rails, and tried to coax the horse from taking off. Apparently, the horse reared and began striking him. With authority in my voice, I command the horse to stop and wave him back into the paddock. Thanking God he complied, the nearby handlers quickly fix the fence trapping him safely within. Demetri looked motionless and limp. Others ran toward the boy and when they lifted him, screams of pain could be heard throughout the whole estate. Demetri was in grave danger.
Everyone knew Demetri had but hours to live. His back was broken and breathing was difficult. The weight of responsibility was on my shoulders, and his beloved parents were weeping and stricken with grief next to me by his bedside. No one could help but God. I know the Jews serve the one true God for I have seen the difference in these men of faith during battle. Quickly, I send servants to beckon the elders of the synagogue. Possibly God will show favor on their prayers on my behalf. For years, I have desired to help the people of the Jewish Diety in hopes of pleasing this God as penitence for the blood on my hands in war. The synagogue was built and maintained with my funds; maybe God will show favor my way toward Demetri. One of the servant ladies excitedly explains that the Jewish rabbi named Jesus is in Capernaum today and has been healing the sick and giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.
Without a second thought, I knew she was right. I had heard of this prophet from others. As soon as the elders enter the room, I ask if they would go to Jesus on my behalf. Quickly they assured me that they would go.
Within the hour, servants come rushing in to say Jesus is entering the estate. My hope rises, for Demetri is now non-responsive and his breathing is shallow and his face is washed-out of color. Immediately, I ask some friends in the room to go meet Jesus and tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to meet you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. So just say, 'Be healed!' and my servant will be well again!"”
Sure enough we wait with expectancy at Demetri's bedside. My heart fills with gratitude for the God who is my God even if I am not His people. I bow my head in relief that God has shown favor on my house- I wait. Any minute Demetri will be restored, I rest. My head bent, my eyes closed, my heart relieved and my breathing even- I wait.
Then on top of my hard calloused hands that are grasped in prayer, I feel a gentle soft hand of a small boy encircling mine and then a soft squeeze. Lifting my gaze, I see a wide bright eyed boy staring at me with a huge grin with his other hand over his father's. I can't help but laugh when his first utterance is concerning when lunch would be ready!
I had aimed to help restore a damaged horse into a safe haven, when the end game for God was that He would welcome my damaged life into his kingdom of grace. I will never forget the lesson that the circumstances of my day can turn out to be an opportunity to be touched by God.
Questions for Reflections:
1. How confident are you that God will meet you in your troubles? Do you rest your thoughts? Is your breathing even? Do you wait in expectancy? If "no" is the answer to the last three questions, then pray for God to help you in your unbelief. (Mark 9:24) Hebrews 11:6 states "without faith it is impossible to please God.
2. When trouble comes, do you think of God as your first "hope"? Do you really want God's answer or your own "reasonable" answers? If you choose your own answers then you may cut off the chance of watching something miraculous occur.
The account is found in two of the Gospels, Luke chapter 7 and Matthew chapter 8. I find this significant for Luke was writing to a Gentile man as he was a Gentile himself letting the man know the special words Jesus said about the Gentile's (centurion) faith. Jesus said, "Never among all the Jews of Israel have I met a man with faith like this. I tell you this that many Gentiles shall come from all over the world and sit down in the Kingdom of Heaven with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And many Israelites- those for whom the Kingdom was prepared shall be cast into outer darkness into the place of weeping and torment." Jesus was expressing that the kingdom of God was an invitation to all and not just for the Jews.
Whereas Matthew, a Jew, also recorded this incident out of the mass amount he had witnessed because he was writing to the Jewish audience, and he held the universal theme in his Gospel that Jesus' message was for everyone not just the Jews. A reminder that no one becomes a part of the family of God based on their heritage or family connections. It is all about faith in the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Christ's work to cleanse us of our sins by His sacrifice on the cross. Precious innocent blood was shed to pay the price of our restoration to God.
This account can bring some very important reminders to believers. Just as the centurion sent his friends to Jesus on his behalf, we too can send friends to pray to our God when there is a need. This is very wise. We must remember friends in Christ are a powerful support team. Together prayers are more powerful than alone.
What is highly unusual was that this Roman centurion was friends with elders of a synagogue. The Jews were oppressed by the Roman government and animosity between these two groups was commonplace. Yet, not only was the centurion friends with Jews, but we see that he cared for his slaves like family as well. When a person cares for others despite their "station or status" even their enemies will be at peace with them. ( Proverbs 16:7 ) When trouble came to this respected man, his friends surrounded him. An important bit of wisdom to take out from this Bible account is the blessing of a life that pours out kindness will in turn receive kindness especially in time of need. Jesus' directed clearly that the most important commandments are to "Love God with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself". (Matthew 22:36-40) He saw both of these attributes in the centurion's life.
The humility of this centurion is noteworthy. Twice, the centurion mentions that he is not worthy: a) in meeting Jesus in person and b) having Jesus come under his roof (enter the house). Yet, interestingly- the words of the Jewish elders are the opposite in thought. They pleaded with Jesus to help the centurion because he was worthy for how he had treated the Jews with building a synagogue. The Bible has many scriptures exhorting people to be humble for a humble heart is a soft heart. We know the steadfast love of God is a faithful soft heart toward mankind- all mankind. When people follow after God's heart, they find their heart softens to all mankind. In addition, a Roman centurion had 100 men under him and to earn this title, the person had to have brave leadership qualities proven on the battlefield. Yet, this strong, rich officer did not find it beneath him to seek out a poor Judean for help. Jesus saw the condition of his soft heart toward others as well as his complete trust in God to wait in expectancy.
Jesus not only touched the young boy with healing, but He also touched the centurion with the blessing of welcoming him into the Kingdom of God.
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
As the account is recorded in the Bible: