As Jesus makes his way to the centurion’s home to honor the man’s request to heal his servant, the plot takes a sudden turn. The centurion sends some of his friends to tell Jesus that he certainly doesn’t need to come to his house—he never meant for Jesus to have to make the trip in the first place. He offers his personal unworthiness as the reason, then compares his station in life with that of Jesus. As a commander of soldiers and as the head of a household, he knows that his spoken word is all that’s necessary for others to do his bidding. Understanding that Jesus’ authority is far superior to his, he sends this message to Jesus: Speak the word, and let my servant be healed (v. 7).
As far as the text reveals, Jesus and the centurion never actually see each other in this entire exchange. Different sets of messengers communicate with Jesus each time. One set makes the initial request for healing; the other group requests that Jesus only speak the word for the healing to occur. The centurion teaches those who are paying attention an important lesson.
One does not have to actually see or even hear Jesus to believe in Jesus. Such is the nature of faith, that encourages full belief without some physical touch or concrete proof or verification. The centurion believes, because he understands that Jesus’ authority comes from a much higher source than anything he can imagine. This officer, well versed in the ways of earthly power, uses his understanding to declare his confidence in the spiritual power that Jesus is able to bestow.
Why do we struggle for earthly power when spiritual power is given so freely by our Redeemer?
God, help us understand how fleeting earthly power is. Help us put our confidence in the spiritual power you have to truly change everything. Amen.