When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum. At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death. When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.” So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.
This passage tells of the relationship between a Roman officer, his slave, and the Jewish community. The officer’s slave is dying and he engages the Jewish leaders to ask Jesus for healing. They go and tell Jesus that the officer is well liked and deserves help (v. 4).
It is interesting that an officer of the occupying army, a Gentile, cares so much for his slave that he is willing to ask Jesus to help him. He further displays his belief that Jesus has the power to heal by his statement “Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed” (v. 7). Jesus sends healing, but takes the opportunity to express to the crowd “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” (v. 9).
We see some important things here: faith in Jesus is already spreading outside the Jewish community, a precursor to the missionary journeys of Paul and others. Jesus came for everyone, not just those of a certain nationality or group. It also demonstrates the teaching “ask and you shall receive” (Luke 11:9-10). The Roman officer was confident that Jesus could and would do what he asked, even without being there. We must have this kind of faith, that even though Jesus may not be with us physically, His presence is with us always.
Gracious God, thank You for the gift of Your son to love and save and free us. May we see His face in all our brothers and sisters and may they experience His love through us. Amen.