This passage of scripture is interesting for many reasons. First, once again we find Jesus interacting with a Gentile. However, this Gentile is one who has some influence in Rome and apparently this Gentile has embraced Judaism to a certain degree. Verse five in Luke states, "for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue." This was highly irregular. The Romans at this time were suspicious of the Jews because there were many revolts taking place at that time.
Barabbas, the "criminal" chosen to be set free during the Passover instead of Jesus, was an insurrectionist. Barabbas had tried to wage war with Rome and wasn't the only one. So, for a Roman soldier, one who had authority and was responsible to the Ceasar, to have a love for Israel and help the Jews to the point of building them a synagogue? That was unheard of. In effect, that centurion was actually risking his own welfare by siding with the Jewish people. He had apparently, been affected in some way by God's word - why else build a synagogue? He had to have had a relationship with someone who spoke with him about the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. He heard and he took it to heart, he loved God's people, he loved God's word and built a synagogue.
Though the centurion worked for an oppressive regime, he blessed the oppressed.
In our communities, often in our workplaces we find ourselves pitted against our Christian values. We struggle to either turn a blind eye or stand for what is right. I venture to say, that though we feel pressed and stressed in those situations we cannot compare it to the danger the centurion faced. If his superiors felt he had crossed the lines with his loyalties and aligned himself too much with the Jewish people, he literally could have been killed. He was well aware of that. Though that was a very real prospect for him, he chose the God of Israel over his loyalties to his political affliation, his cultural association, his career and life.
Make no mistake about it, he was dealing in very high stakes. And he chose to believe Psalm 122:6, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you."
So, when the centurion heard about the Jewish Rabbi who healed, he wanted to ask Him to heal his servant. He understood enough about the laws and rituals of the Torah to know he shouldn't have expected Jesus to actually enter his house. He was a Gentile. He and his household were considered unclean. A self-respecting, law abiding rabbi wouldn't enter his house - even though he built the community a synagogue.
I love the fact that Jesus always seems to shatter our preconceived notions. He began the journey to the soldiers house anyway but was stopped where He heard words he had never heard before.
And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it. ” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour. (Matthew 8:7-10, 13 NKJV)
The centurion soldier just took it as a fact that the kingdom of God operates in such a way that the word is just spoken and it is done. Surely he had heard the creation story of God speaking and world came to being. That through the word given by God spoken through Moses the ten plagues came upon Pharaoh's land. Through the word spoken by Elijah, given by God it didn't rain for 3 years. It is how God had revealed His power throughout the ages so SURELY this is how He operates now.
So the centurion soldier told Jesus to speak. Just say the word - and his servant will be healed.
How many of us have that "simple trust" that God can and will turn any situation around with just a word?
As He sits on His throne and looks throughout the earth, He is speaking words that affect our situations.
A word of hope
A word of peace
A word of salvation
A word of healing
A word that changes lives
Jesus can, will and does speak a word to each of us on a daily basis. It is up to each of us to decide if we will have that simple faith that it can and will heal our lives.
Just Around the Corner,