(Matthew 8.5-13; John 4.43-54)
1After Jesus had finished teaching the people, he went to Capernaum. 2In this town an army officer's servant was sick and about to die. The officer liked his servant very much. 3And when he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish leaders to ask him to come and heal the servant.
4The leaders went to Jesus and begged him to do something. They said, “This man deserves your help! 5He loves our nation and even built us a synagogue.” 6So Jesus went with them.
When Jesus wasn't far from the house, the officer sent some friends to tell him, “Lord, don't go to any trouble for me! I am not good enough for you to come into my house. 7And I am certainly not worthy to come to you. Just say the word, and my servant will get well. 8I have officers who give orders to me, and I have soldiers who take orders from me. I can say to one of them, ‘Go!’ and he goes. I can say to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes. I can say to my servant, ‘Do this!’ and he will do it.”
9When Jesus heard this, he was so surprised that he turned and said to the crowd following him, “In all of Israel I've never found anyone with this much faith!”
10The officer's friends returned and found the servant well.
Reflections from an officer’s friend
. . . Many Romans had been in our town before, but none like him.
This Roman officer was so different. He respected me, a Jew. He watched out for us. He didn’t abuse us. He was so different. He asked questions – really good questions. It was like he really wanted to know about our faith. About the living and true God of the Jews.
He honoured our women. Even they were not afraid of him. He protected them from his soldiers.
He had a servant. He treated him as his own son, while at the same time expecting service and professionalism. The servant actually liked to work for him – a Roman. He felt honoured to serve him.
This Roman was my neighbour. His servant was my son.
And then he got sick. My son got really sick. He was in a coma, and we knew he would die. We started making preparations for his death.
But the Roman said to the Jewish leaders, “Please call Jesus – he can heal my servant, my friend, your son. I know what it is to give orders. When I say ‘do this!’ people do it. I don’t have to plead with them. Actually, there’s no need for Jesus to come all the way to my house. I’m not good enough for him to come in. He can give orders from where he is.”
He had more faith than I did. And when the leaders returned, guess what? My son was well.
Lord, others have faith that is so much more than mine. I am embarrassed. I really don’t have much faith at all. Lord—give me faith to see you, to experience your touch. Today.