For a little change of pace, we’re taking a few sessions to see how Jesus used his body, specifically his five senses, in his ministry.
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
(Matthew 8:5-13 NIV)
When you think about Jesus’ emotional responses, what do you think of first?
- His love toward so many, including children, outcasts, and misfits?
- His empathy, when He wept over the death of His friend Lazarus?
- His sorrow, when He was praying in Gethsemane before His arrest?
- His righteous anger, when he cleared the temple of the money changers?
- His compassion, when He healed many everywhere He went?
- His joy, when He attended the wedding and turned water into fine wine?
Obviously, the list could go on and on as we read the pages of Scripture.
When we consider Jesus’ emotional responses, today’s passage is not typically one that is top of mind.
As we step into this story, we smile as we read the happy ending – the centurion’s beloved servant is restored to health and Jesus has another teachable moment with His followers.
However, like many of the stories in the four Gospel accounts, this story has multiple layers, additional narratives that are easy to name but are often glossed over.
For instance, another layer that is fairly obvious is this centurion’s faith. Jesus offered to come to the centurion’s house and heal the boy. The centurion, however, let Jesus know that a home visit (and all the social implications of a Jewish person entering into a non-Jewish home) was not necessary. The centurion simply asked Jesus to heal him by saying the word (by saying so).
The larger narrative that I find captivating is Jesus’ response to the centurion’s answer. Verse 10 says that when Jesus heard the centurion’s reply, He was amazed.
Think about that for a moment.
Jesus, the Son of God, who existed from before the beginning of time, the same One who created all things and knows all things, is surprised by something, by anything!
Yes, when Jesus heard the centurion’s reply, He was surprised, amazed, marveled at and admired the man’s answer.
So what would your response be if you were standing there? What would you say or do, or would you have any words at all?
Jesus, always being present in the moment, was not dumbfounded or lacking words. His response to hearing the centurion was to turn to those following Him and use it as a teachable moment about faith in God.
Jesus said that He had never found anyone in Israel with such great faith as this Gentile, this Roman man, this leader of Roman soldiers. The Israelites were to be the great people of faith, the living examples of the kindness and goodness and dependability and trustworthiness of the One True God.
And yet, this humble soldier’s faith in Jesus outshone them all.
May our deep conviction of who Jesus is and His readiness to walk with us through all of life’s journeys cause us to put our faith and trust in Him like this Roman centurion did.
And may we be surprised by the joy of walking in deep faith with Jesus, as much as Jesus was amazed by the centurion’s faith.