The Faith of a Roman Officer
1When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people, he returned to Capernaum. 2At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officera was sick and near death. 3When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. 4So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, 5“for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”
6So 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. 7I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 8I 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.”
9When 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!” 10And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed.
There were many Roman officers and many slaves in Israel at this time. Jesus healed many people but very seldom at the request of Jewish leaders and Roman officers. What made this situation so different?
Let’s start with the Roman officer. The Romans usually despised the Jewish people. As a matter of fact, Romans, and most people at that time, didn’t value other people at all. The value of a person in nearly all the world prior to Christianity was the sum of their wealth, power and social connections. People had no intrinsic value at all.
But this Roman officer was different. He valued his slave. He loved the Jewish people, which means he very likely love people in general. He saw the world differently. It wasn’t a world where his place in society, power and wealth was what matter. He recognized that there was someone out there, Jesus, who didn’t have any money, worldly power or social connections, and yet had ability and authority the Roman officer couldn’t dream of. The Roman officer saw the world and people differently.
Lord, give me the courage to see people, all people, as you and give me the courage to see the world around me, all of the universe from the home and business that I call mine to the entirety of what we call the universe, as yours.
Do that, and you will be truly free.