5 "And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” 7 Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment." - Matthew 8:5-13Did you catch it?
I've heard many people teach and reference this piece of scripture on numerous occasions with always the same basic application. It is often used as a "faith" text. What great faith the centurion must have had to trust Jesus to heal his servant, that he understood the authority that has been given to Jesus.
I want to take a different look at this passage. The faith thing is dead on; it's quite obvious. I want to draw your attention to something smaller.
If you haven't seen the 70's mini-series, Jesus of Nazareth, here is a clip of Ernest Borgnine portraying the Centurion who meets Jesus in Matthew 8. Enjoy it!
A Centurion was a professional officer in the Roman army. They would often have at least 80 men (even though Ernie says 100) in their command, with some leading upwards of 480 men. Some Senior Centurions were tasked with leading upwards of 5,400 men.
In other words, they were important dudes.
So why in the world would a Roman Centurion, who oversees many men and probably had countless numbers of servants, journey to find Jesus, a Jew, to ask that He might heal one of his servants?
We don't know. We don't even know this guy's name, let alone the servant's name! All we can do is speculate what the Centurion's motives were.
Why would such an important guy do this?
I believe that it was simply love. I think Ernest Borgnine nails what the Centurion thousands of years ago might have been thinking. He loved his servant so much, he was willing to be an advocate.
If we reflect long enough, we too might find "wounded servants" in our lives who are in need of someone to stand up and advocate for them, to simply love them.
Who are sick servants in your life? Who around you is in need of an advocate, someone who can go to the Lord and their behalf? Who do you need to love?