Thursday

"The centurion answered, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, "Go", and he goes, and to another, "Come", and he comes, and to my slave, "Do this", and the slave does it.'" (vv. 8-9)

Matthew 8:1-13 Thursday 3 October 2013


Background

We dive straight into the second of three healing narratives inthis part of Matthew's Gospel. The first tells the account of aJewish leper (Matthew 8:1-4). And after the healing of thecenturion's servant, there is the third healing - that of Peter'smother in law (Matthew 8:14-15).

Jesus means business!

He has come to heal Jews, Gentiles (non Jews) and family - andto do so publicly, and in such a way that hundreds of other peopleare brought to him for healing and restoration.

There is much in this short passage that is shocking. It isshocking not only because it tells the account of Jesus healingsomeone; nor because Jesus heals from a distance, without enteringinto the centurion's home or even meeting with the sufferer. Whatmarks this account out even more powerfully is that the initialrequest of the centurion is not for himself. This is not a selfishpetition, but the selfless act of a power-holder within theEmpire.

The centurion would have been a significant leader - an alphamale; someone with fast-track leadership qualities, to whom greatresponsibility within the Roman Empire will have been given. Yetthis powerful strategist also demonstrates great compassion towardssomeone who is far lower than him in rank and regard. He comes toJesus requesting help on behalf of his servant. His servant who was'suffering terribly' (verse 6).

Even before Jesus speaks, this is a challenging passage. Itchallenges the reader to think about whether they notice peopleover whom they hold power, and to consider how that power is used(or abused).

The centurion continues to demonstrate that he knows andunderstands the humanity of his servant, and the reality of his ownpowerlessness in this situation as he is unable to do anythingother than risk coming to Jesus. In other words, a centurion who isso used to ordering people about and achieving positive outcomesputs himself under the authority and power of Jesus ofNazareth.

Jesus responds to this courageous and humble request, and from adistance heals the servant. Once again, the kingdom of God turnspower on its head.


To Ponder

  • Whose authority are you under?
  • What difference does that make to you?
  • Who do you have authority over?
  • How do you demonstrate compassion to them?


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