“Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.’ . . . Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel’” (Matthew 8:7–8, 10).
The centurion here—an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers—was undoubtedly a God-fearing Gentile. Jesus knew his heart and did not need to hear a direct request from anyone for healing of the servant. And indeed the centurion was so humble, he felt unworthy to have Jesus come into his house.
That the centurion twice called Jesus “Lord” shows a lot more than simple courtesy. The soldier was affirming that Christ was the Son of God, able to heal the man’s paralyzed servant. He knew that only a powerful word from Jesus, uttered inside or outside the house, would be adequate.
In His humanity Jesus was amazed that the Roman centurion showed more real faith than He had found in many Jews. Although a number of Jews had already believed in the Lord, none had manifested the kind of sincerity, sensitivity, humility, love, and deep faith this Gentile had just displayed. On several occasions Jesus would reprimand even the Twelve for their lack of faith (Matt. 8:26; John 14:9).
The good news of salvation originated from Israel (Matt. 1:1–23). But that benefit comes to all who believe, not just to a certain ethnic group. God ordained in His redemptive plan that the Savior, His own Son, be born, live, and die as a Jew. But the fact that any Jew makes it to heaven will not be because he or she was a Jew like Jesus, but because of saving faith. This principle applies to everyone of every nationality.
How do you respond to the call for greater faith—especially like that of someone in a different class or station than you? Are you resentful of the implication? Convinced you can never be that way? Or are you driven to your knees in a prayerful appeal for faith at all costs?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.