Daily Thought for: 8th October

THE CENTURION WITH A SICK SERVANT

Matthew 8. 5-13; Luke 7. 1-10

The central character in today’s reading is a Roman soldier. He lived in Capernaum and headed up the garrison in that community. In many ways he was a man of exemplary character and certainly did not appear to behave with arrogance or a dominating spirit, as many in authority tended to do in those days. 

He had a personal slave who was ill, at the point of death. In days when slaves were inconsequential parts of the master’s property, he had a touching concern for the welfare of his servant. He was determined to bring health to that slave and had absolute confidence in the power of the Lord to cure him. 

The message was delivered to Jesus by the ‘elders of the Jews’, though Matthew’s account gives the impression that the soldier himself went to Jesus. This can possibly be explained by the fact that to take a message in someone’s name is to act as if the person himself were there. These elders were leading men in the community, being associated with the synagogue. They gave glowing reports of this man’s character. He had a deep love for the Jewish nation and had showed it by generously supporting the building of the synagogue. They begged Jesus to go and help him for ‘he was worthy’. 

Though others spoke highly of his worth, the soldier saw himself differently. He refused to let Jesus enter his house for he did not feel worthy enough! He was a man who had to obey orders from higher authorities and he gave orders to those under him. It must be that he accepted in all humility his own shortcomings and now felt the burden of his sin and selfishness. 

He urged Jesus to ‘speak the word only and my servant shall be healed’. He believed that Jesus could heal without seeing or touching his servant. It was total confidence in the power of the Lord. Indeed, Jesus highlighted that centurion’s faith and stated that He had ‘not found so great faith, no, not in Israel’. 

So we see the twin characteristics of humility and faith in this Gentile man. These should be clearly seen in every Christian. We are humbled before the greatness of our Saviour, but we have total confidence in His power to save and work the miracle of redemption in the lives of those to whom we witness each day. 

 

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