Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” 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! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 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 8:5-13 (cf. Luke 7:1-10).
A centurion comes to Jesus and pleads with Him about the current state of his servant. The ailing servant is apparently dear to him since the centurion goes to meet Jesus on his behalf. He is probably a young slave; too young to die. He is severely ill, perhaps suffering from a form of rheumatic fever. He is paralyzed and in dreadful torment. He has heard of Jesus’ healing ministry. He believes in Jesus. He knows that the Master could heal the young man. As we have seen, the young man is in great agony, unable to move.
Jesus agrees to come and heal the young man. However, the centurion – probably a Gentile – recognizes the authority of Jesus. He respects Jesus; says he is not worthy of having a person of Jesus’ stature under his roof. “Speak a word and my servant would be healed,” he says, which indicates the level of his faith in Jesus’ abilities. He represents himself as a man with authority, though in a modest way. The centurion thinks Jesus can order about disease as he orders his soldiers—say to fever, palsy, leprosy, go, and it will go. (Expositor’s Greek Testament.)
Jesus is seemingly astonished with the centurion’s remarks. He says, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
He indicates that people of faith will be included in the kingdom of heaven; but people dependent on heritage and works will be excluded. A Gentile recognizes the authority of Jesus while His own people reject Him. Then Jesus says to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” His servant is instantly healed.
What do we learn from this event?
1. We see the faith of the Centurion;
2. Witness the authority of Jesus to heal;
3. Know of God’s plan to include believing Gentiles in His kingdom;
4. Exclude unbelieving Jews from it.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.