The Faith of a Roman Officer
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”
Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I 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.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.” Matthew 8:5-13 NLT
My Thoughts: I love this story for so many reasons!
- We have a Roman officer, who was a Gentile and although typically tyrannical to Jews, asking for help from Jesus, a Jew. Although we know Jesus was a King, the officer would not know this and would normally have considered Jesus beneath his standing as a people and in the community. Yet the officer didn’t hesitate to ask for help and Jesus showed no hesitation in His willingness to help.
- This officer “pleaded” with Jesus, a clear sign of humility. By his request this Roman officer was declaring Jesus’ authority over him.
- The officer, a man of authority and position, has such compassion for his servant who was in pain and paralyzed, he pleads for his healing. It was not common behavior for a Roman officer to even know their servants, let alone have compassion for them.
- By asking Jesus to heal his servant he had to have been aware of or seen Jesus’ miracles. (“News about him [Jesus] spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all.” Matthew 4:24 NLT)
- The officer also knew enough about what Jesus had done he had faith Jesus could heal his servant with just His word.
I am certain Jesus recognized all of these amazing qualities and more about this officer. I also believe that through this story Jesus wants us to know and believe that if we ask, with the goal towards God’s perfect will and a greater good, He wants to answer all of our requests too.
This doesn’t mean Jesus is our magic genie to give us everything we ask. But it does mean Jesus knows the entire situation surrounding our “ask” and the greater good for how He will answer. We have to trust and believe His response will always bring the answer that best fits the entire situation. While it may not be what we asked for initially, it will be the right answer and glorify God!
So we have some compelling questions to ask ourselves today:
- Do we hesitate to ask Jesus for help? Or do we think God is too big and our problems are too small? Jesus tells us: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 NLT
- Have we humbled our hearts to Jesus and do we present our requests in humility? The Bible says: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:10 NLT
- Do we have compassion for everyone regardless of who they are or what they look like? The Bible says: “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12 NLT
- Have we experienced or seen a miracle from Jesus in the lives of others and spoken about it? The Bible says: “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.” Psalms 66:16 NLT
- If so, are we willing to publicly voice the same faith? Jesus said: “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” Mark 16:15 NLT
This story is very enlightening and includes “action” items for us; it’s not just a good read!
Closing Prayer: Father God thank You for this remarkable story about a faithful and compassionate Roman soldier who had such faith in Jesus, he believed his servant could be healed just by His word. May we mirror our lives and behavior after him. Thank You for leaving us the Bible that answers our questions and guides us in our obedience and reflection of You. Father I pray that the eyes that read these words, including my own, follow in obedient action. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.