Scripture: Matthew 8:5-17 [alternate readings for the birth of John the Baptist: Luke 1:57-66,80 and, Luke 1:5-17]
5 As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, begging him 6 and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress." 7 And he said to him, "I will come and heal him." 8 But the centurion answered him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, `Go,' and he goes, and to another, `Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,' and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; be it done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment. 14 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; 15 he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases."
Meditation: What kind of expectant faith and trust does the Lord Jesus want you to place in him? In Jesus' time the Jews hated the Romans because they represented everything the Jews stood against - including pagan beliefs and idol worship, immoral practices such as abortion and infanticide, and the suppression of the Israelites' claim to be a holy nation governed solely by God's law. It must have been a remarkable sight for the Jewish residents of Capernaum to see Jesus conversing with an officer of the Roman army.
The power to command with trust and respect
Why did Jesus not only warmly receive a Roman centurion but praise him as a model of faith and confidence in God? In the Roman world the position of centurion was very important. He was an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers. In a certain sense, he was the backbone of the Roman army, the cement which held the army together. Polybius, an ancient write, describes what a centurion should be: "They must not be so much venturesome seekers after danger as men who can command, steady in action, and reliable; they ought not to be over-anxious to rush into the fight, but when hard pressed, they must be ready to hold their ground, and die at their posts."
Faith in Jesus' authority over sickness and power to heal
The centurion who approached Jesus was not only courageous, but faith-filled as well. He risked the ridicule of his Roman cronies (close friends of someone in a powerful position) by seeking help from a traveling preacher from Galilee, as well as mockery from the Jews who despised their Roman overlords. Nonetheless, the centurion approached Jesus with great respect and confidence. He was an extraordinary man because he loved his slave. In the Roman world slaves were treated as property and like animals rather than people. The centurion was an extraordinary man of faith and love. He wanted Jesus to heal his beloved slave. Jesus commends him for his faith and immediately grants him his request. Are you willing to suffer mockery or ridicule in the practice of your faith? And when you in need of help, do you approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith and trust?
"Heavenly Father, you sent us your only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to set us free from sin, pride, and Satan's lies. Set me free from doubt and pride so that I may trust in your all-powerful word of truth and life. Strengthen me in faith, hope, and love so that I may always think, act and serve in the power of your merciful kindness and compassion towards all."
1 O God, why do you cast us off for ever? Why does your anger
smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
2 Remember your congregation, which you have gotten of old, which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage! Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
3 Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins; the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!
4 Your foes have roared in the midst of your holy place; they set up their own signs for signs.
5 At the upper entrance they hacked the wooden trellis with axes.
6 And then all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
20 Have regard for your covenant; for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21 Let not the downtrodden be put to shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Welcoming the Lord Jesus with expectant faith and humility, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"When the Lord promised to go to the centurion's house to heal
his servant, the centurion answered, 'Lord, I am not worthy to
have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant
will be healed.' By viewing himself as unworthy, he showed himself
worthy for Christ to come not merely into his house but also into
his heart. He would not have said this with such great faith and
humility if he had not already welcomed in his heart the One who
came into his house. It would have been no great joy for the Lord
Jesus to enter into his house and not to enter his heart. For the
Master of humility both by word and example sat down also in the
house of a certain proud Pharisee, Simon, and though he sat down
in his house, there was no place in his heart. For in his heart
the Son of Man could not lay his head" (Matthew 8:20). (excerpt from SERMON 62.1)
quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version
of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of
the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright
2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the
United States of America. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Citation references for quotes
from the writings of the early church fathers can be
The Daily Scripture Readings and Meditations is in need of on-going development to expand resources and to reach people around the world. If you would like to contribute, you can make an online donation.