IN Matthew 8:5-13 we have the account of the healing of the centurion’s servant. Centurions figure prominently in the New Testament. There was the one at the cross who said, “Truly this was the Son of God.” There was also Cornelius, the Gentile convert.
First, this centurion showed concern. He came beseeching Jesus for his servant, who was probably a favorite and a valuable man. If we are to receive anything from the Lord for ourselves or others, we must be concerned. “No man cared for my soul” might well be the text for a sermon entitled, “Who Cares?” There are salesmen selling toothpaste and hair tonic over the radio with more zeal than many of us are preaching the gospel. And now many parents and friends today are coming to Jesus with the needs of their loved ones, concerned half as much as this centurion over his servant?
Next, he showed contrition. He told the Lord, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof.” Today people argue, “I didn’t ask to be born; God ought to save me.” We read such signs as “Your soul will be saved if you make it worth saving.” But if we are to be blessed by Jesus we must come as beggars, deserving nothing. Jacob, faced with a crisis, prayed, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant” (Gen. 32:10). John the Baptist was a fearless preacher, but he could say of Jesus, “Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear.” The prodigal son had to be humbled to say, “I am not worthy to be called thy son.”
Then the centurion showed confidence. He asked Jesus merely to speak the word and his servant would be healed. Jesus said, “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” Faith is the only hand that can receive anything from God. Without faith, we cannot please God. Jesus complimented this man’s faith; Jesus always told those whom He blessed that their faith had done it. We keep thinking that there is some other key to blessing, but it is simply according to our faith.
Then the centurion obeyed Jesus and went his way. He showed conformity to our Lord’s command. He took the word for the deed and went home to find it so. Hannah took God’s word and went her way with her countenance no more sad (1 Sam. 1:18). When Jesus cursed the fig tree, He did not stay there to see whether it died or not. He went His way, and when He came back it was dead. He used that to instruct His disciples that when they prayed they were to believe they had what they prayed for and they would have it (Mark 11:24). We say that God is able to help us, and we hope He will, but Jesus says God has done the thing we ask for in faith and we are to go on believing it. As the lepers went they were cleansed, and so are we.
Finally, there was confirmation. When the centurion reached home, he found the servant healed. Of course he did! It is always as the Lord says. When the Zarephath widow obeyed Elijah, I read, “And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:16). When the disciples went to prepare the place of the Lord’s Supper, they found as He had said. It is always so. The faith which believes shall see!