When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Matthew 8 : 5 – 9
This must be one of the most extraordinary stories in the New Testament. It’s almost on a par with the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’ – two people who belonged to different races, which hated each other, coming together to help the one in need.
Israel was occupied by the Romans in Jesus’ time. The Romans looked down on the Jews and treated them accordingly. Jesus referred to one of the hated Roman rules when he spoke about, ‘going the second mile’. The law stated that a Roman soldier could order any Jew to carry his pack for a mile. Jesus suggested carrying it for a second mile! Do that and the relationship is changed – no longer master and servant!
The officer in our story seems different. A slave was regarded as having the same status as a spade or a plough. The fact that the officer came to ask Jesus’ help, showed that he had real concern for the servant. The story also shows that desperation will drive people to do what they would not normally think of doing – crossing the boundaries of race and status to get help. There is a phrase which says, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.”
The pandemic has driven many people beyond their normal limits. Some are glad to still be alive, having had the virus. Others are grieving because of the loss of a loved one. Others are fearful of catching Covid – 19. Yet others have lost, or are in danger of losing, their jobs and are worrying about the future.
God is present in every human life. We need to realise that and allow him to work in our lives.
Prayer : Living God, we thank you that you first loved us. Help us to open our hearts to allow your transforming love to work in our lives.
“Into my heart, into my heart
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus
Come in today, come in to stay
Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”
Action : Be sensitive and open to God acting in the lives of other people, as well as your own. Be ready to encourage and support every expression of faith you see in the life of another person.