This passage in Matthew demonstrates an exceptionally strong profession of faith. What is marvellous, indeed incredible about this is that the advocate of the faith-filled request is a centurion, a Roman soldier, whose purpose in Israel is to subject Jews to the rule of the Emperor. He is a gentile, possibly with a pagan upbringing – not the likely person to be held up in scripture as a hero of faith. He is not only humble but loves his servant – someone who is generally considered as property in the culture of the time – possessed, used, but certainly not loved. The centurion’s request for healing for his servant triggers a strong reaction from Jesus – underscoring the faith demonstrated by the centurion and indicting Israel for its inability to express this level of faith.
What is amazing about this centurion’s faith is that he understands the power of the word of Jesus; that Jesus does not need to be present to heal his servant. No wonder Jesus marvelled at this expression of faith. And Jesus, in Divine Love, looked not at whom the centurion was and what he represented. Rather, Jesus looked at the centurion’s heart, and his servant was instantly healed.
This reading calls me to pause and question my level of faith. Can I demonstrate a faith equal to that of the centurion? Or am I somewhere with the Israelites – not quite up to the mark? What about you?
– Sandi Austin