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 – the Jewish elders – to Jesus beseeching Him that he would come and heal his servant who was dear unto him and sick to the point of death, he knew that it wasn’t necessary for Jesus to come to his house. So when Jesus was not far from the house, Luke tells us “the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, ‘Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it'” (7:6-8, KJV).
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 the officer, saying “he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue” (vv. 4,5). Yet this wasn’t what caught Jesus’ attention. For when He heard what the centurion had said, “He marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed Him, ‘I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel'” (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 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 (v. 10; Matthew 8:13). Thirdly, the people who were supposed to know about God and how He works, those in Israel, did not have that kind of faith.
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 are the clearest expressions of what we truly believe, so if we believe God then our actions should reflect that belief.
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 concern you and me. He is a Man of authority and He can be trusted; one word from Him can change your situation. Just ask the centurion.