When You Need to Know that Jesus Can Handle It
The photo is of the ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum.
Matthew 8:5-13 (ESV)
The Faith of a Centurion
5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
Digging into God’s Word
Centurions in Jesus’ time were Roman soldiers who commanded 80 to 100 men within a legion of 6,000. They were compensated accordingly: Centurions earned about 20 times the salary of a regular soldier. They had noticeable authority, yet this centurion had a problem he could not solve by himself or pay someone to fix.
Ever feel that way? Have you faced a problem you couldn’t fix, and even if you had the money, paying someone wouldn’t do any good? You can probably name three right now.
Last fall, I discovered mole tunnels in my yard. Over the winter, the moles had a heyday, and by the time it was warm enough to inspect the back yard, I was aghast at the damage they had done. Those squirmy little creatures weren’t aware that daffodils are supposed to be a deterrent, and they had carved rolling hills under my once pristine flowers. I researched solutions and hired a company to set traps in my yard. So far, we’ve caught one sneaky varmint, and there might only be one more. Those stinkers do a lot of damage! I was pretty happy to shell out money to stop the tunneling from ruining my yard. The day I wrote the check and the traps were installed, I felt better.
But for most situations in life, there isn’t a way to buy our way to a peaceful night’s sleep. Our minds wrestle over friends who are hurting, workloads we can’t handle, damaged relationships, social injustices, health crises, struggling children–the list is long.
Our centurion was losing sleep with concern over his servant, who was paralyzed and suffering. This man who had a position of great authority could not solve this particular problem. He needed help. He sought out Jesus.
Look at what the centurion knew about Jesus:
8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
The centurion understood two truths:
- Jesus had the authority to heal the servant. Just as the centurion commanded the soldiers under his command, so Jesus had command over matters of health, life, and death.
- Although the centurion commanded a large number of Roman soldiers, he was not worthy of having this Jewish rabbi come under his roof.
Somewhere in all of this, the centurion was recognizing Jesus’ divinity, the very glory of God. The centurion had somehow grasped that he was standing in the presence of someone greater than anyone he had ever met, who by His very word could command illness to leave the servant.
Jesus healed the servant at that moment from a distance. How could He do that? Because He is God.
Reflect on these questions. If you have time, journal your answers.
- It’s sometimes helpful to remind ourselves that Jesus can handle whatever is troubling us. What situation–in your life, your church, your community, or your country–would you like to remind yourself that Jesus has authority over?
- Is there an area of your life over which you haven’t acknowledged Jesus’ authority? He has authority over it, but there are times when we find it difficult to give an area to Jesus. In your own words, invite Jesus to exercise authority over that area of your life.
- Look at verses 7 and 13 in today’s reading from Matthew 8. What do you learn about Jesus from those verses, and how can that affect how you approach Him? Praise Him for His authority! He can handle what is too big and wondrous for us.
Did you miss any devotions? You can find all of the devotions in the series on Getting to Know Jesus here: Getting to Know Jesus
In today’s devotion, the gospel writer mentions Abraham, and you can access a series on Abraham here: AbrahamPrint