Matt 8:5-9, 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.”
Remember that this is a centurion, a roman soldier. He has no obligation to believe in Jesus. In fact, Jews, who Jesus happens to be, were enemies of the Romans. But somehow, his confidence in Jesus seemed immeasurable.
Can great faith or confidence arise from witnessing?
This man is contending that the same way he can exert control over conscious beings who will respond and obey his very command, that Jesus has the same capability over sickness, life, and death; that Jesus can demand the attention of sickness; that he can force disease into subjection; that he can arrest the symptoms of terminal illnesses.
I am sure that if this man had heard of cancer, he would have no doubt that Jesus could destroy it. Very few cancer cases have good prospects. And what makes it difficult to cure or treat cancer? It is because cancer emerges out of the cellular level of our biology. It is a mechanism that changes good body parts into corrupt cells, and it disguises those cells as normal. The difficulty that physicians have is separating cancerous tissue from non-infected tissue. Therefore, when trying to destroy those malignant cells, in many cases, more harm is done to the normal body parts as the infected ones (Jim Stallard, 2015).
But I guarantee you that if this man had the chance, he would boast that Jesus can extricate the vilest of cancers; that he could separate those cells even among the most minute fibres of the body; that he could separate the pancreas from a cancerous infection; that he could identify cancer in the lungs from the natural functioning tissue of the lungs. What this man is proclaiming is that even cancer would grow ears and listen when Jesus talks. The man had so much confidence in the power of Jesus to heal that Jesus himself was amazed. Jesus exclaimed that nowhere in Israel had he experience such a magnitude of faith.
So, what made this man believe that Jesus could command disease to stop infecting a body? Who told him about Jesus?
One may say, maybe he thought Jesus was an extremely effective doctor who had remedy for illusive cures such as that of leprosy. But why did he expect Jesus to heal from a distance? After all, no virtual long distance medical service existed then. He told Jesus, just say the word right here, and my servant will be healed even though he is far away.
Is it possible that the power of the personhood of Jesus Christ is undeniable? Is it possible that when one truly meets Jesus that he becomes irresistible to that individual? Could it be that searching Jesus out with diligence makes his power unstoppable?
Who witnessed to the centurion?
So, again, what made this man believe that Jesus could command disease to stop infecting a body?
When one compares that story from Matthew to Luke’s point-of-view, a different picture emerges:
Luke 7:1-3, “When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There is a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.”
There are two points that appear in this version of the story that is absent in the previous account: 1, He heard about Jesus; 2, he sought to find him. For the first point here, he heard of Jesus. Someone told him that Jesus was around, that this Lord was the miracle-working Jesus.
How do I know that?
For one thing, the passage said he heard about Jesus. In addition, Rom 10: 14 says, “how then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” So, somebody must have told that soldier that he had seen Jesus’ exorcising or extracting demons from a little boy with his own eyes. Or maybe someone testified of what Jesus had done for them. Or just maybe that leper who was healed in Matt. 8 gave is personal testimony to the centurion. One thing is for sure, someone with direct knowledge of the working power of our saviour told him.
Could you be that witness?
My question for today, is that someone you? Have you told someone in need of the power of Jesus? Have you shared with others about the time he rescued you? Have you told someone of the small miracle that he wrought in your life this week? No one will know of the mighty power of Jesus without witnesses. So, are you that witness? Because someone testified to the centurion about the power of Jesus, a life was saved.
The second point in the version recorded by Luke is that the centurion made a great effort to find Jesus. He made a choice of searching with diligence. The Bible says, “those who search for me with diligence will find me.” As a Roman and having no direct access to Jesus, sought the help of gatekeepers among the Jews. But how can anyone develop that diligence if he never heard of Jesus?
People can only make a choice to find Jesus if someone tells them. That unknown witness could be you.