An officer in the Roman Army met Jesus when he arrived in Capernaum (Matthew 8:5-13). The officer had a paralyzed servant in great pain. He asked Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus agreed to come heal him. The officer said "no" to Jesus coming. "I am unworthy of having you enter my house. All you need to do is command that my servant be healed, and it will happen. I know what it means to have authority. When I command one of my soldiers to do something, he does it."

This officer was astounding. He was not a Jew. He did not have the advantages of a life spent in the synagogue. It is unlikely that he knew about God's interaction with Israel through the centuries. But he recognized power and authority when he saw them. He saw Jesus' miracles for what they were. He accepted them for what they were. Many Pharisees, Sadducees, and Jewish scribes never saw what he saw.

This officer cared about his servant. He cared that he was paralyzed. He cared that he suffered. How much did he care? He was an officer in an occupation force that was hated for what it did and what it represented. He dared make a request of a Jewish man. He did not command, order, or threaten Jesus. He asked Jesus. He risked ridicule, rejection, and contempt because he cared about his servant.

This officer was truly a humble man. Roman military officers were not known for humility. The officer not only recognized power and authority when he saw them, but he also recognized position when he saw it. I do not know what identity he ascribed to Jesus, but I know what he thought of Jesus. Though the officer commanded one hundred fighting men, he knew that Jesus was infinitely superior to him. How superior? He felt unworthy for Jesus to enter his house--true humility, not false modesty!

This officer was a man of incredible faith. His servant's health did not depend on Jesus' presence. Nor on Jesus' proximity. Nor on having Jesus speak to or touch the servant. It depended on nothing more than Jesus' command. If Jesus said the servant was healed, when the officer returned home the servant would be well.

Jesus had not found that much faith in a single Israelite. Not even Peter, Andrew, James, and John who had the trust to leave everything to follow Jesus had this faith.

I wish that Jesus could look at us and say, "Wow! How they trust me! I have not found that much faith among Christians in the USA!" Why would I wish that? So we would be superior? No. I wish we were that caring, that humble, and that trusting.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 28 February 1999
This article is also available as "Wow che fede!" in Italian.
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