Read Luke 7:1-10
The hope experienced by the Roman centurion and his slave becomes even more obvious when it is placed against the backdrop of realities within the text you just read. Let’s explore some seeming points of irony that are clear from the text.
- He was a man who knew the tender balance of authority and compassion. While soldiers would respond to commands he gave, he cared deeply for a slave in his home. That is not a given among people in authority. They can care more about tasks than people.
- He was “worthy” and “unworthy” at the same time. The Jewish leaders knew him and his reputation. They deemed him worthy of Christ’s coming to heal the slave. While those leaders deemed him as “worthy,” he saw himself as “unworthy.” At the outset, he expressed unworthiness in not going personally to request the miracle. And in the end, he saw himself as unworthy of having Jesus grace his household with His presence. The centurion’s humble assessment of himself is model for all.
- He was born foreign to faith and yet grew to great faith. Although he was not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he loved the nation of Israel. He built the synagogue in Capernaum. He had good relationships with the Jewish leaders. Ultimately, his faith recognized that Christ did not have to touch the man to heal him. The Lord would not have to be physically present. He could just speak the word from a distance. Jesus described the man’s faith as superior to that of the native Israelites of the day.
Compassion, humility, and godly confidence all played together in unleashing God’s grace in the healing of a slave. The centurion’s hope was realized.
So, is that a formula for all healing? Are those the ingredients for answered prayer of all types? Not always. Let me cite two examples that remind us that we cannot force the hand of God…even with godly lives and great faith…to a specific response we want from Him. Do you remember Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12)? God chose to give him sustaining grace rather than healing relief. Do you remember the men thrown into the fiery furnace (Dan. 3)? They were confident that God could rescue them, but even if He chose not to, they would not compromise their commitment to Him.
Our hope in God is never misplaced even if we don’t experience our desired outcome!