Jesus Took Our Sins Upon Himself

We constantly need the word of Jesus so that we can be growing not in our sinful nature but in God’s nature and in inner holiness.

The last part of this incident is also important. Read verse 4. We learn two things here. First of all, Jesus wasn’t trying to gain glory for himself through healing this man. Instead, Jesus strictly refused to gain glory through it. It’s very relevant today. Our own self-glory seeking desires can still ruin the good work God wants to do through us for the spiritually sick. Secondly, Jesus was thinking about this man’s whole life. He wasn’t trying to use him to show himself off in that moment; he was deeply concerned about this man’s social healing. He really wanted the man to be integrated back into normal society and be happy. A true shepherd isn’t thinking about using sheep for his or her own glory; he or she genuinely cares about the sheep’s entire life—personally, socially and spiritually.

The second healing Matthew records here is also shocking. Read verses 5,6. What’s a centurion? He was an officer in the Roman army in charge of 100 soldiers. To good Jews, such Roman oppressors were just as hideous as lepers. But Jesus didn’t pre-judge this man. This man, too, had faith in Jesus. If we read the story too quickly, we miss many things.

First of all, we notice that he wasn’t coming to Jesus for himself. Who was he there for? He says, “…my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” This is not your average Roman army officer. Most of them were so cruel they would use people up and throw them away like garbage. Because they were officers, they thought they were far above lowly servants who had problems. They didn’t think they could be bothered with such burdensome people. But this centurion deeply cared about his sick servant. He empathized with his condition; he knew he was suffering terribly. We don’t know what exactly paralyzed this man and was causing him so much suffering. But the point is not that; it’s that the centurion understood and cared for him so much. He cared so much that he was even willing to humble himself to go to Jesus and ask his help. His love for this other human being led him to faith in Jesus. We notice that, like the leper, he calls Jesus “Lord.” And he believes that Jesus would care even about a nameless suffering servant.

How does Jesus respond to him? Read verse 7. At first it’s hard to understand what Jesus is saying here. In Greek the emphasis is on the word “I.” It seems Jesus is drawing attention to the fact that the centurion is a high-ranking Roman officer, whereas Jesus is a lowly Jewish rabbi. It was well-known that Romans thoroughly despised Jews. Jesus wants to know if this man is really ready to cross the racial barrier to ask his help. With this question Jesus is gently testing his faith.

What does the man say? Read verses 8,9. In brief, the centurion is saying, “Don’t bother coming over—just say the word.” Again Matthew is emphasizing the healing power and authority of Jesus’ word. This centurion knew firsthand the power of words.