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."
Jesus' encounter with the Roman centurion is a critical turning point in the gospel of Matthew. Up until this moment, the Lord's ministry of teaching and healing has been confined to the Jewish community only. He has never actively sought out Gentiles, understanding that His mission was first and foremost to God's Chosen People. Yet here, a Roman soldier, feared and despised by the Jews, bravely and, perhaps, recklessly, approaches Jesus to intercede on the behalf of his paralyzed servant, trusting in Jesus' powers so completely that a mere word spoken by Him, even from a great distance, is enough to heal the suffering man. Talk about faith! Even Jesus is amazed as He states in Matthew 8:10 - "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith".
Just as, long before Jesus' time, Abraham's faith was credited to him a righteousness (Romans 4:9), Jesus responds positively and genuinely to the centurion's request. In this one act of boldness, sincerity, humility ("I do not deserve to have you come under my roof"), and belief on the part of this one man, the door to salvation in Christ Jesus is suddenly, extraordinarily opened to the children of all nations. Our Lord recognized that His love and grace extends to all people; He came into the world not to save a sinning few, but to save all who sin; all who sin, and repent, and believe upon Him.
Today, I am so grateful for the courage of that one Roman centurion who approached Jesus in fullness of faith. Scripture doesn't tell us, but I choose to believe this man's experience with the Lord changed his heart that day. Who knows? Perhaps, he was one of the first Gentiles after the resurrection to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. I like that thought; I'm sticking with it.
Psalms 102 or 107:1-32
2 Kings 19:1-20
1 Corinthians 9:16-27
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