Matthew 8:5-13 The Centurion
Matthew 8:5-13 KJV And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, (6) And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. (7) And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. (8) The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. (9) For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (10) When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (11) And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. (12) But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (13) And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
Riding home after a long week of military maneuvers under the relenting middle eastern sun and cold lonely nights, Marcus lingered for a moment to experience the scene before him. He marveled at the sight of the setting sun which seemed to pause, resting upon the horizon. His first thought was the fact he was glad it was going down, as he looked forward to the coolness of the night. Slowly his mind drifted to the wonders of the world and the sun that rose every morning, and its setting every evening. He admired the perfect form, and the vivid colors highlighted by the red hue of the setting sun, Marcus let out a deep soothing sigh as he thought of being in the arms of his wife, and the greeting he was about to receive from his son. It’s been the same routine every time he returned home, but also one that he would not give up for anything.
Riding up to the stable Marcus dismounted, wondering why Lucas was not there to greet him. Assuming Lucas had more important business to attend to, Marcus tied his horse to the fence post, and headed for the house looking forward to a quick bath, then social activities and company of the evening meal. Opening the door Marcus was not met by the usual happy smile and embrace of his wife, or the excited greeting of his son. Instead his ears heard the sound of weeping. Marcus walked in. As he turned the corner, he saw the family and a few servants gathered around his son’s bed. Looking up, his wife Anna, leaped forward, wrapping her arms around him for comfort. Marcus felt her tears upon his neck and shoulder. Looking at the bed he saw Lucas lying there. With both arms Marcus gently held his wife to one side so he could make his way to the bed. Kneeling, he put the back of his hand on Lucius’ forehead asking, “what’s wrong?” Anna informed him of the days events. “About noon time Lucas suddenly fainted. We tried to revive him. I thought it was heat stroke, so we placed wet towels on his forehead and tried to get him to drink. There was no response, so we carried him in and placed him on Cato’s bed.” Marcus inquired, “have you called the doctor?” Anna replied, “yes.” Handing Marcus a small clay bottle she continued, “he provided this to administer to him, but we cannot get him to do so much as drink.” Taking the bottle Marcus gave it a sniff. Not that smelling it would reveal anything, but give the impression he was actively pursuing a resolution. At this point Marcus’ anticipated homecoming turned into a time of grief and reflection.
Marcus never looked at Lucas as a servant. Years ago Lucas was purchased as a slave by Marcus’ father. His dedicated service and sincere concern for the family quickly gained him his freedom. When Marcus was transferred to serve Rome in Judea, his father asked Lucas to accompany his son. Realizing this was a sign of trust and respect, Lucas accepted the awesome responsibility. Thus Lucas was more than a dedicated and free servant, he was in fact a father figure for Marcus.
Dinner was a solemn experience. Conversation centered around Lucas and ideas of what to do about the situation. After commanding a legion all week, Marcus felt unsure, bewildered, and powerless. He tried his best to give the impression he was still in control of the situation, and everything would turn out fine. However, doubts filled his mind and heart like an enemy who had been planning his demise for years.
The heat of the day captured within the house did not escape into the darkness of the night. Worries of Lucas kept Marcus awake. Anna sensed Marcus’ concern. Turning along side of him, she placed a hand on his chest. Her intuition told her to wait a moment. Before speaking, Marcus’ mind must first grow to realize, she was there to comfort him. When she heard Marcus’ sigh, she knew he was ready to listen. “Are you still thinking about Lucas?” Marcus sighed, “yes.” Anna whispered so not to wake anyone, “we have done all we could for him.” Marcus whispered back, “there must be something we can do, I cannot lie down here and do nothing.” In the silence of the night Anna drew circles along Marcus’ chest, then placed her hand flat upon it. Feeling the pattern of his deep silent breathing and pace of his heart, she felt her husband’s concern. Finally she added, “you know there is one thing. You may not believe this, but the other day a man visited. He claimed he was a leper, and was healed. The way he was dressed, I believed his story. It was so touching. I gave him a change of clothes to go along with his change of life and heart.” Anna paused a moment, waiting for a response. Receiving none she continued with her story. “The man claims he was healed by a man named Jesus.” Marcus chimed in, “I have heard of Him. He is one of the reasons for the increased activity, my longer hours, and our heightened state of alert.” Anna viewed this as a typical response based on his position and responsibility. She continued. “Some claim this man Jesus is a prophet with the ability to heal.” Marcus responded, “I am familiar with the stories. That is one reason for the governor’s concern.” Anna asked, “do you think they are true?” Marcus answered in a bewildered tone, “reports would indicate yes, the stories are true.” Anna could sense a questioning faith by the tone in his voice. She asked, “should we find out if these stories are true? If they are, could this Jesus help Lucas?”
Worry robbed Marcus of sleep that night. Rising early he walked to the door in time to watch the sun rise, his thoughts immersed in the stillness of the morning, and the beauty of the scene. The sun cast a multitude of red, pink, orange and yellow highlights upon the contour of the clouds. The sky transcended the talent of every artist, changing from the deepest purple in the west to the brightest blue in the east, highlighted by a yellow horizon, and the blazing red of the rising sun. The scene painted a glimmer of hope in Marcus’ heart.
Calling his servants together he inquired if anyone had any information about this mysterious man Jesus. Much to his surprise, almost all his servants shared a story of his teaching, and the miracles He performed. Marcus asked if anyone knew where to find Him. He received as many stories on where Jesus had been, and where He was going, as those concerning His miracles. Marcus gave his servants instructions to find this Jesus, and beg Him to come to the aid of Lucas. He reminded them of the contributions he had made in building the local synagogue. He dispatched his servants in teams of two, and sent them off in three directions. Marcus decided to travel to Capernaum himself, based on updated reports he had been given yesterday.
Upon entering Capernaum, Marcus first visited the synagogue he helped finance, donating the funds in the names of his servants. After he was warmly greeted by a number of elders, and asking them for help he explained the situation. After learning of Lucas’ condition, which melted away the prejudice they held towards Jesus, the elders were more than happy to help. They informed Marcus of the latest reports received about Jesus, indicating He was on his way to Capernaum. Marcus divided the elders into small groups, assigning each to the main roads leading into Capernaum. Marcus would wait at the synagogue to receive reports.
The instant one group of elders reached the edge of the city, they saw a large group traveling along the road. As soon as they confirmed Jesus was leading the group, the elders sent a messenger to Marcus. The elders waited for Jesus to enter the city, and sought an audience with Him. Sensing their need, Jesus granted their request.
The scene seemed rather odd, considering the back ground of the characters. A few hours before, these Jewish elders were actively seeking faults in Jesus, but now they were seeking His favor. Even more strange was the fact, they had relayed the request of a Roman centurion. When Marcus arrived, the three groups were not only represented, but working together to save one person. Only God could bring these three, Jesus, Jewish elders, and a Roman centurion together under a common cause. When people are facing a trial it creates a situation for God to show His wondrous powers.
Jesus’ heart, always filled with love, may have reached an even higher level when viewing the scene of cooperation between the Jewish elders and a Roman centurion. In this miracle He recognized the work of His Father.
After listening to the elders praising Marcus, Jesus waited for his request. Finally Marcus spoke up. “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, Go! And he goes; and to another, Come! And he comes; and to my servant, Do this! And he does it.”
Jesus paused for a moment while silently praying that the elders understood the message Marcus had just delivered. It was a message and claim they would not receive if Jesus had offered it.
Finally Jesus answered Marcus’ request. “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven. But the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion, Go. And as you have believed, so let it be to you.”
As quickly as Lucas fell sick, he recovered. The moment Jesus spoke His blessing, Lucas opened his eyes, sat up in bed asking for something to drink. Instantly the servants who had gathered around his bed began rejoicing, praising God, and the name of Jesus. Tears filled Anna’s eyes as she joined in, praising Jesus, and dedicating her life to learning more about this mysterious man she had heard so much about.