And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment.Matthew 8:13(NASB)
Beginning in Matthew 8, we start to witness Christ's miraculous powers of healing and his absolute authority over disease, demons, death and the forces of nature, which authenticate His Messianic declarations, as foretold by prophets of old. Isaiah had written how the coming Messiah would open the eye of the blind, unstop the ears of the deaf, heal the lame, raise the dead and cast out demons.. along with many other convincing evidences, which proved unequivocally that He was Who He said He was.
The section on Christ's healing ministry follows the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus gave witness of His Messianic claims to the people of Israel. The first person Christ healed was a leper.. who was a Jew, and this was immediately followed by another healing miracle - the healing of the servant of a Roman Centurion.. who was a Gentile.
Jesus had been sent from God as Israel's long-awaited Messiah. He had been specifically sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and yet in these early chapters of Matthew's Gospel, we can already see that Christ's message was not understood by the Jewish crowds nor were His Messianic claims accepted by the religious leaders.
The faith of this Roman general stands in stark contrast with the unresponsiveness of the Jews. This uncircumcised Gentile sought Jesus out because he had heard that He was from God and could perform mighty miracles. He not only showed compassion for his slave but also approached the Lord Jesus with great humility and a faith in the Lord Jesus, that was sadly lacking in Israel.
As a high-ranking officer in Ceasar's military, this man understood the significance of the voice of authority. He not only carried out orders given to him from greater generals but also gave orders to the men in his charge. He knew the authoritative commands of a leader must be obeyed immediately and implicitly.
The Centurion explained to the Lord that he was not worthy to have Jesus visit his home and also explained a fundamental truth... he said that because he was a man who carried out commands from his superior officers and gave orders to his subordinates; he understood that words have power. He reckoned that if his own spoken command had to be obeyed by those under him, how much more must the authoritative Word of Christ be obeyed. He understood that the Son of the living God and Creator of the universe had power to vanquish the illness with which his servant was afflicted.
He marvelled at the great faith this Centurion demonstrated. Jesus had been prepared to travel to the home of this Roman officer, to heal his servant, but this man humbly admitted, "I am not worthy for You to come and enter my house, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed".
How this answer must have rejoiced the heart of our Saviour for it demonstrated true faith in the Word of God. Jesus was amazed at his reply. He had not found such genuine faith amongst His own people... the Jews, as He did from this Gentile.. "And Jesus said to the centurion, 'Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed that very moment."
Immediately the Centurion did as Jesus bid him. He returned home to his servant, who was healed the moment Christ said 'Go! It shall be done for you as you have believed'. Following this miraculous healing, Jesus explained to His disciples truths about the kingdom of God.
Jesus told them that many Gentiles, like this Centurion, would be drawn into the kingdom He was proclaiming, ahead of many of His own countrymen. Many believing pagans would trust in Christ as Saviour, and would come from the east and west, and dine at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.. before many of the unbelieving children of Israel.
Jesus explained in this passage that faith is rewarded in proportion to the level of trust and depth of confidence we have in God's word. The faith that delighted the Lord Jesus is the absolute assurance that God is true to His spoken word and to His written word. It is not the 'positive declaration' that has become the hallmark of so many prosperity teachers - but an unshakable trust in God's faithfulness to fulfil His Word.
Faith is holding fast to the truth of God's word. It is not shrinking back when faced with difficult circumstances. It is not sinking into the stormy waves or being overwhelmed by obstacles that strew our pathway. The faith that pleases God is an unshakable assurance that God is true to His word.
May we use every obstacle we face as an opportunity to exercise our faith in Him and use every stumbling block in our path as a springboard in developing our faith in our ever-faithful God.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful example of the Centurion's faith, who thrilled the Lord Jesus with His demonstration of trust in Christ, and hope in His word. Help me to fine-tune my faith in You, by standing firmly on Your unchanging and unchangeable promises.. even when circumstances appear to contradict Your word. I pray that my faith would grow and mature and that nothing would cause me to doubt You - in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.