“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:8
So much in life requires some measure of faith, doesn’t it? We have faith our kids will stay healthy, faith we’ll still have a job on Monday, and that we can keep all the plates spinning. Then there’s faith that things will work when we turn them on like the air conditioner, the faucet, and the washing machine. I had the same faith in our car when my family and I were going out to dinner recently, but when we walked out the front door we saw the engine on fire!
Fortunately, my husband saw the fire before it grew too large and he managed to put it out with a fire extinguisher. No one was hurt, thank the Lord, but we still don’t know why it spontaneously ignited. All we knew was that we were suddenly without transportation, and we had not been planning to make any major purchases, which meant we had to scramble quickly to find financing.
Did I panic? You bet! How were we going to find thousands of dollars we didn’t have? There was only one thing we could do — pray! It was time to turn our faith full frontal toward God.
When unexpected troubles occur, our faith is all we have to lean on. Whether it’s car trouble, the loss of a job, a serious diagnosis, or issues with our kids, it’s our faith that helps us endure.
I’m not talking about the kind of faith some people throw around like it’s some mystical notion. No, I mean real, honest to goodness faith, the kind that moves God in your direction.
Our issue with buying a new car reminded me of the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. Why did he have such great faith? How did he know Jesus would help him? How can we have faith just like his?
The Centurion’s Faith
“2A certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and at the point of death. 3When he heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and save his servant. 4When they came to Jesus, they begged him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy for you to do this for him, 5for he loves our nation, and he built our synagogue for us.’
6Jesus went with them. When he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, ‘Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I am not worthy for you to come under my roof. 7Therefore I didn’t even think myself worthy to come to you; but say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8For I also am a man placed under authority, having under myself soldiers. I tell this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.’
“9When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude who followed him, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith, no, not in Israel.’ 10Those who were sent, returning to the house, found that the servant who had been sick was well.” (WEB)
I’m sure we’ve all seen a depiction of a Roman centurion somewhere. He’s usually a big, burly guy with a super bad attitude, and that’s exactly what the Jewish people saw.
Israel was under Roman rule when Jesus walked the earth. Centurions had command of 100 soldiers and were a very common sight in most of the larger towns in Israel. The job of the soldiers was primarily to maintain order for the Empire, but they also were surprisingly involved in some of the local infrastructure projects. One thing the soldiers did, for example, was build synagogues for the Jewish people.
You would think building synagogues would gain the soldiers a little favor, but the Jewish people only saw them as ruthless, evil oppressors who worshipped idols and whipped innocent people. They outright hated and loathed the Romans, and a lot of that hate had merit.
But, there was one centurion who was quite different.
A Humble Heart
We don’t really know the centurion’s backstory, but he seemed to have a softer heart than most Roman soldiers. Despite his tough exterior, he recognized authority when he saw it, enough to humble him.
There is some debate about whether he used messengers to talk to Jesus. The book of Luke says he did, but the book of Matthew says he spoke directly to Jesus. If we stick with Luke, the centurion had sent elders of the Jews to Jesus to plead with Him to heal the servant because he was unworthy to approach Jesus himself. And, the elders didn’t seem to mind doing it because, apparently, the centurion was a likable guy.
“And when [the elders] came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, ‘for he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue.’” Luke 7:4–5
Jesus agrees to go to the centurion’s house, but He encounters more messengers speaking for 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 You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Luke 7:6–7
We are all like the centurion. None of us is worthy to approach the Lord with any requests. Our sin prevents it. But, Jesus in His great compassion overlooks our sin so He can make a connection with us. It doesn’t matter if we’re Jewish or Gentile, free or slave, man, woman, or child of any color, background, politics, or culture. It doesn’t matter.
Jesus just wants to go to your house and help you.
Just Say the Word
But, the centurion stopped Jesus from coming to his house. This part is where most of us are not like the centurion. We need to see things in action to make sure it’s working. We need to be nearby…just in case.
But, the centurion stops Jesus. He knows he doesn’t need to see anything. He needs zero proof. He believes — he has faith — that Jesus will heal his servant just by saying the word. How did he do that?
The centurion bases his faith on how he commands his soldiers, but I wonder if there’s something more to the story the Bible isn’t telling us. Something has happened to cause him to believe in Jesus’ power and win the elder’s affection. As a result, this particular centurion — this hardened Roman commander trained in cruelty — was essentially the first Gentile convert to Christianity.
How can we have faith like that?
A House of Faith
Now, remember, Jesus knows exactly who this guy is. He knows all about the centurion, all his good stuff and all his bad (sometimes extremely bad) stuff. And yet, despite all that, Jesus still wanted to help him. He still wants to help you!
Why does Jesus do that? He came to the earth to “heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds (Psalm 147:3),” but that was over 2,000 years ago. What has that got to do with us today?
Jesus still reaches out to us because His love is eternal just as He is eternal. It’s not possible for Him to not love us. It’s not possible for Him to refuse to go to your house and help you. It just can’t be done. It would go against His very nature.
So, it’s up to us to make the first move. If we can allow Jesus to touch our hearts, then we can build a legacy of hope, not just for ourselves but for others as well. Like the centurion who built houses of prayer for the Jews, we create our own house of faith for Jesus to enter if we humble ourselves and invite Him in. It’s then the hope begins to grow and multiply.
Jesus loves connecting with people who society has tossed aside for one reason or another. He longs to reach the outcast, the hurting, and the brokenhearted. If you’re hurting today, if you’re feeling tossed aside, remember that Jesus wants to connect with you. He wants to build a relationship with you, one based in love and amazing grace.
A Lasting Legacy
The centurion had enough faith in Jesus that he said Jesus only needed to say a word and his servant would be healed. Jesus then turned to the crowd following Him and said, “Never have I found such faith in all of Israel” (Matthew 8:10).
Whatever you’re going through today, this week, this month, trust and believe that God sees you. He knows what you’re going through, and He longs to help you.
Open your heart and, with centurion-like faith, allow God inside. You don’t need any messengers to do it for you. Call out directly to Him and believe by faith He can do far more than you can ever think or imagine. I assure you, He can meet your need.
The centurion was a great example for the Israelites that day. Imagine the legacy of faith you can leave for someone today. Imagine lives forever changed, especially your own.
Trust. Believe. Have faith. The Lord is able.