Observing the size and scale of the man’s faithfulness, “Jesus was amazed and said to those following him, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith’ ”(Matthew 8:10). Jesus recognized the man’s strong faith and complemented it. Wow!
The word that Matthew used to describe the quantity and quality of the man’s faith is not a particularly common word. It’s only used twenty times in the entire New Testament. John used the same word when he described the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Considering how Jesus and His disciples might feed all the hungry people, Andrew brought a boy to Jesus. “There’s a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish—but what are they for so many?” (John 6:9). “So many” comes from the same Greek word. It describes the multitude and magnitude of the desperate need.
Who had this “great” faith? Jesus wasn’t referring to Peter, James, John, or to one of the other Apostles. He wasn’t looking back to any of the Old Testament Patriarchs, and He wasn’t looking forward to the New Testament’s world missionaries like Barnabas or Paul. He was talking about a Gentile, a centurion, a Roman military leader stationed in Capernaum.
The account is recorded in Matthew’s eighth chapter and again in Luke’s seventh chapter. Jesus had come to Capernaum on the northwest shores of Galilee where “a centurion came to him, pleading with him, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony’ ”(Matthew 8:5-6). The “centurion’s servant, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die” (Luke 7:2).
The citizens of Capernaum thought that this Centurion was a good guy, so some in the crowd tried to persuade Jesus to help him! They pleaded with Jesus, “He is worthy for you to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue” (Luke 7:4-5).
Compassionately, Jesus asked “Am I to come and heal him?” (Matthew 8:7). In other words, “Would you like Me to visit your home? Do you want Me to come and lay my hands on your servant to heal him?”
This is where the Centurion’s humility and faith really shine. “ ‘Lord,’ the centurion replied, ‘I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, “Go,” and he goes; and to another, “Come,” and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this!” and he does it’ ” (Matthew 8:8-9). The Centurion commanded a few military men. Jesus commands the universe! The Centurion believed that at Jesus’ command, sickness and death retreat! When Jesus spoke, “his servant was healed that very moment”(Matthew 8:13).
Don’t miss this! Jesus didn’t heal the Centurion’s servant because of his good deeds, his humility or great faith. Jesus healed the servant because of the quantity and quality of His own great grace and mercy!
How much faith does God demand? Does He require a certain multitude and magnitude of faith? Nope! Faith the size of a tiny mustard seed is sufficient to move the heart of the Omnipotent! (Matthew 17:20, Luke 17:6). So come boldly! (Hebrews 4:16). Come broken! Come with your weak and weary faith, trusting that Jesus will do what only Jesus can do!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.