Is the Centurion looking for convenient healing in this verse? After explaining that his servant is home paralyzed, this is a strange request in which the Centurion shares with Jesus, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.” It might appear that Jesus isn’t welcome in the Centurion’s home, but more is at play here. Jews didn’t enter the homes of Gentiles. The Centurion, as a Gentile, was being gracious in saying, “But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Even stranger, the Centurion goes on to describe his level of authority by sharing he tells others when to come and where to go. What are the lessons of this abstract faith journey? At least three lessons can be characterized from this passage.
Be Extro–spective (Care for Others)
The Centurion was yielding his authority in a God-honoring manner. He was caring for his servant. He had multiple people reporting to him. The Centurion had a choice of introspection (inward focus) or extro-spection (outward focus). Jesus showed in this healing miracle that he was willing to heal by words versus touch. Are there healing words we can share with others today that live out the Gospel in the same way Jesus illustrated in this passage? We do have a choice each day to share words of healing and care. Jesus is encouraging us to strive towards this external focus of caring for others in the words we share. Not a very easy practice, but a habit of positive verbal guidance we should contemplate each day in communication practices.
Expectations Can Be Limiting or Empowering
The word taboo comes to mind when reading that the Centurion essentially said “You had probably better not come to my house, but I’d appreciate it if you healed my servant from a distance.” The Centurion knew Jesus as a Jew wasn’t supposed to enter into a Gentile’s home. Unwritten expectations of invisible boundaries can be very limiting, but not to the Centurion. He was empowered by unwritten expectations. Are there cultural expectations in your community that can be changed so others can be empowered? Patterson and Kelley share that ‘Jesus was not bound by rituals.’1 The Centurion overcame invisible boundaries that were bogging down his community. As you contemplate unwritten rules of whom to invite into your home, whom to associate with, and limitations that are man-created expectations, consider breaking out of these taboo guidelines. Striving towards Scripturally-based expectations can be an empowering daily habit.
Faith Can Be Found in Different Forms of Healing
The Centurion’s verbal request for helping his servant illustrated that healing is possible by Jesus’ spoken word. Jesus often previously healed by touch. Without the Centurion’s faith in the spoken word, his servant may not have been healed. How should we live out different forms of faith in our daily routine? Faith and healing can be experienced in prayer, touch, medical expertise, words, intercession, and so much more. Being a person of the Centurion’s faith allows for various forms of healing.
Prayer: In this Christmas season, help us be willing to be a person, like Jesus and the Centurion, who shares healing words, reshapes cultural expectations, and encourages others that healing takes on various forms of faith. May it be so, Lord. Amen.
Patterson, D. & R. Kelley. New Testament Commentary (B and H Publishing, 2011), p. 45. ↩