“Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to tho one, “Go,” and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Matthew 8: 5-10
Jesus marveled. A Roman centurion had faith that astounded even Jesus. He believed that his servant could be healed with just a word from the Lord. Apparently this kind of faith was pretty rare. We read this and think “well, good for him, he figured it out, whatever it is!” But what is “it”? I think faith (the effective, Biblical kind) has been made complicated. God made it quite simple. He gives us examples in His word to show us that faith isn’t difficult or beyond us, we just need to have His perspective on things.
Simple examples from everyday life:
Roman centurions weren’t known for their love of Jesus, much less having great faith. What this man understood though, was authority. He was in charge of people. They would act at his command. He figured that if his servants obeyed him, how much more would demons have to obey God at His command? He recognized that all he needed was a word from Jesus for his servant to be healed.
No limiting Jesus:
The centurion recognized Jesus didn’t need to physically come all the way out to the house to heal his servant. Jesus knew it too, of course. The Roman spoke what he understood to Jesus, essentially saying “this is how I understand it to work… so if this is correct, save yourself the trip and just speak the word!” Jesus is gracious to meet us where we are – He’s always willing to “make the trip” for us. How beautiful though, when we understand His ways more fully and step into line with them the way this man did!
He was spiritually-minded
The Roman understood one thing that is easy to forget: the Truth of the unseen world is stronger than the ‘truth’ of our physical world. The world we see was created as a result of there first being a spiritual realm. It was called into existence because God spoke it. The Bible tells us that this physical world is changeable but the spiritual realm is fixed (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Being spiritually-minded doesn’t mean we discount or ignore problems. We read “be spiritually-minded” and wonder if we’re just supposed to think positive thoughts and hope for the best. But anyone can tell you that doesn’t work. When we see physical problems, we zone in on them and then ask God for help. His Truth goes out of focus. When our minds are fixed on just the physical, we can’t operate in God’s Truth. The Bible tells us that to be spirit-minded is life and peace, while being carnally minded is death (Romans 8:6). He is telling us to get our minds off of what we see and feel and onto His Truth. In a world that tells us to focus on our feelings and how every little thing affects us, it’s no wonder we don’t see faith operating the way it should. God doesn’t want us to deny a problem – He is asking us to deal with it from the spiritual side.
Faith makes the unseen visible
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is a very popular verse. I always skimmed over it thinking faith is just a kind of hope that we have for something that hasn’t happened yet. But it says evidence of things not seen. It doesn’t say “evidence of things that don’t exist. There is a huge difference! We aren’t hoping for pie in the sky things that don’t exist, calling them into being like some magician. That’s not God and it’s not Biblical. Our faith is for things that exist, but aren’t seen or manifest yet because they are in the spiritual realm. Our job is to plug in and come into agreement with God and get those things into the physical!
This goes totally against the world we live in. It’s not natural to put more stock in the invisible than we do the visible. But by abiding in God’s Truth, soaking in the word and letting it take root, it can happen. The Roman soldier knew something I wish I had known a long time ago: all it takes is a word from God and belief on our part to believe that He can do it. That’s it.
It’s important to open the Word and see it with fresh eyes. It can be hard. Things don’t always jump off the page and excite us. We are trained to move on to the next thing if we aren’t entertained. But we have to keep at it. Sometimes we need Jesus to come all the way out to our house and meet us there. It’s ok. He’s happy to do it. How powerful, though, to have a simple faith that takes Him at His spoken word.
This Roman was about the least qualified person in Israel to understand what he did. Part of his very job was to keep the Jesus people at bay. His simple acceptance of who Christ was opened the door for him. Jesus marveled at his faith, not because he had figured out a complex, hidden mystery of the ages, but because he really believed in the person of Jesus and in His power. The invisible became visible.
It just takes one word.