He was a centurion, a Roman officer and a commander of at least a hundred men, who was accustomed to exercising authority. So when he sent his messengers, Jewish elders, to Jesus beseeching Him that he would come and heal his servant who was sick to the point of death, he knew that it was not necessary for Jesus to come to his house. So when Jesus was not far from the house, the narrative tells us that “the centurion sent friends to Him, saying, ‘Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof. Therefore I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You. But just speak a word, and my slave will be healed. For I also am a man subject to 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'” (Luke 7:6-8, AMP). This commander knew what it was to be in authority and the power that came with it.
The dynamics were interesting. This Roman officer, being a Gentile, knew full well that it was not lawful for a Jew to go into the house of an uncircumcised Gentile. The elders even gave Jesus two reasons why He should help him, saying “he is worthy for You to do this for him because he loves our nation and he built us our synagogue [at his own expense]'” (vv. 4, 5). Yet this was not what caught Jesus’ attention. For when He heard what the centurion had said, “He was amazed at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, ‘I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith [as this man’s]'” (v. 9). In other words, “I’ve yet to come across this kind of simple trust anywhere in Israel, the very people who are supposed to know about God and how He works” (The Message).
Three things merit our attention. Firstly, the centurion recognized Jesus as a man with authority who could just as easily rebuke and call off sickness and it would obey Him as he could command obedience from his soldiers and servant and have it. Secondly, this expressed faith in Jesus’ ability resulted in the servant being healed at that instant for “when the messengers who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health” (v. 10). This without Jesus even saying a word commanding healing. Thirdly, the people who were supposed to know about God and how He works, those in Israel, did not have that kind of simple trust in Him.
How could they not have it? Not only was Jesus among them but they had also seen the miracles He had done. Yet before we judge them too harshly, what about us? Do we really believe in Jesus’ authority and His ability to do the things He says He can do? Do we, like the centurion, entrust to Him the situations dear to our hearts that only He can tend to? What do our actions say? Simply acknowledging that Jesus is Lord is not enough. Our actions and attitudes are the clearest expressions of what we truly believe, so if we truly believe God then our actions and attitudes should reflect that belief. The apostle Paul affirms, “Clearly, God has put everything under Christ’s authority” (1 Corinthians 15:27, God’s Word), and that “everything” includes all the things that pertain to you and me. Jesus is a Man of authority and He can be trusted. One word from Him can change your situation; one word from Him can change a life. Just ask the centurion.