When he had concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. A centurion’s slave, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to Him, requesting Him to come and save the life of his slave. When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with Him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue.” Jesus went with them, and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell Him, “Lord, don’t trouble Yourself, since I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. That is why I didn’t even consider myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be cured. For I too am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”
Jesus heard this and was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, I have not found so great a faith even in Israel!” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. (Luke 7:1–10)
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. The Centurion didn’t feel deserving, but he asked anyway. In Luke’s presentation of the story of the Centurion with the sick slave, some elders encouraged Jesus to come to the Centurion based on what a good man he was.
Did Jesus go to heal the Centurion because he was a good man? No. Jesus didn’t heal people based on their goodness. It was only after he healed them that he told them to “sin no more.”
The Centurion told Jesus that a word from Jesus would be enough; Jesus didn’t even have to come to him. In Luke’s telling of the tale, Jesus doesn’t even announce the healing. Instead, we only get Jesus’ reaction to the Centurion’s great faith, followed by the news that the slave was, in fact, healed.
The Centurion didn’t believe himself worthy of Jesus’ presence. But Jesus marveled at his faith. The Centurion, though the builder of a synagogue, remained a Gentile. He had not converted to Judaism. The Centurion’s faith, and Jesus’ healing of his slave, demonstrated that the grace of God was available to the entire human race. The Messiah that was supposed to destroy the Romans healed the slave of a leader in their armed forces.
Jesus is far more than we think. Jesus reaches beyond where we think he would go. Or could go. Or should go. He is not bound by what binds us.