Daily Word

Gentiles have faith | Matthew 8:5-9

5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, begging Him, 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, terribly tormented.” 7 Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under 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.”

Matthew 8:5-9 (NASB)

Authority in healing

After completing the Sermon on Christian living (Sermon on the Mount) which inspired awe in His authority to teach, Jesus is now demonstrating His authority by doing miracles. Yesterday He healed a leper, representing power over the effects of sin – physically, but also implying spiritually. Now he takes on a very interesting case.

What’s the situation?

Jesus has entered Capernaum, where He spent much of His three years of ministry (Matthew 4:13). A centurion finds Him and begs Him for help. Centurions are Roman army commanders over 100 men. How did a centurion know about Jesus? Maybe he was in charge of crowd control for the sermon on the mount – since there was a large crowd (verse 1). Or maybe he heard reports of His teaching and the leper healing.

Who is this centurion?

What do we observe about this centurion? He was paying attention. He identified Jesus as someone with authority, like him, but ever greater. We can guess he was desperate – for Romans and Jews did not fraternize so him even coming to Jesus was unheard of. It seems he had a loving heart such that he would seek the wellbeing of his servant – even humbling himself and begging for it. “Under Roman law a master had the right to kill his slave, and it was expected that he would do so if the slave became ill or injured to the point where he could no longer work.” (enduringword.com)

Gentiles have faith

But surely the greatest description of this man was his faith. He knew the concept of authority far too well – having lived it and being part of the Roman authority chain. The centurion showed great respect for Jesus calling Him “Lord” (or sir). As a sign of respect, he didn’t dictate how Jesus should heal. “The centurion also showed great sensitivity to Jesus, in that he wanted to spare Jesus the awkward challenge of whether or not to enter a Gentile’s house – as well as the time and trouble of travel.” (enduringword.com)


  • Can we take any encouragement from the faith of this centurion? You are not likely a Jew but you still have access to the Father, through Jesus. Despite cultural, physical, emotional obstacles, he persisted in faith with strong determination. 
  • Is there something you know is good and you need to ask this same God to do? If we seek Him in faith, and ask in His name (as if we were asking on Jesus’ behalf), take the measure of faith you have and ask.
Roman centurion with troops. Image from www.warhistoryonline.com *

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