A junior officer was posted in an area of the Middle East that was a tinderbox ready for violence. He was in a small town that was safer than the big city. In fact, it was safe enough that he brought his family along to live in a small rental space at the edge of town. He also felt safe because he commanded a troop of about 100 soldiers who was always on alert.
He and his family had gotten to know some of the folks in town and because he was a good person, he was accepted as much as one could be in his position. Life was okay, the pay wasn’t great, but he would have an excellent pension once he retired.
Then his son got sick. The boy was partially paralyzed and racked with pain and dying. Being in a part of the world where care was far away, the soldier despaired as to what to do. He then remembered that there was a famous physician was about to visit the town. The physician had a reputation for being able to diagnose and heal just about any disease. However, there was a significant problem. This physician belonged to a pagan religion that was notorious for only caring about their own kind.
The officer, however, was desperate. He went to see the physician to see what could be done for his son. He found him in the middle of a crowd that was just entering the town along the main road. He explained his boy’s situation to the physician and was astonished by his reply. “You want ME to come and heal him ?” Not to be put off, the officer replied, “you don’t have to come to my house because I know your religion would not allow you.
I am accustomed to orders and giving orders. Just order me as to what has to be done to heal him and I will carry out the order”. Now it was the physician’s turn to be astonished. He replied, “I have not found in my own people, the confidence, faith and obedience to follow my orders that you have just displayed. Go home, because of your faith in me, your boy will be just fine !”. The soldier hurried home and found that his son was recovered from his illness.
This account is in the Bible, the 8th Chapter of Matthew verses 5 through 13. The officer was a Roman Centurion who commanded 100 men in the area they occupied in Galilee, northern Israel today. To him, the Jewish inhabitants of the region would have been pagans because they worshiped only one God rather than dozens. He had heard about the physician, Jesus of Nazareth, who had been healing everyone who was coming to him.
So the officer went to Jesus to see about having his son healed. Being a life-long soldier, he knew obedience but more importantly, he knew authority when he saw it. He immediately knew that Jesus had an authority and that at his command, orders would be followed, and his son healed.
This officer was used to a command structure. He knew that if he asked someone in authority, someone who was truly in command, to issue an order (even to heal a sick boy) it would be carried out. This is a true measure in faith. He knew the one in command had demonstrated his ability to do what was asked of him. It is what Jesus still asks of us today.
He can and does heal sickness. Why do you think just about everyone asks for prayer when someone is sick ? More importantly, he can and does heal our hearts of despair, loneliness, and the consequences of our mistakes of the past. All he asks from us is to have the faith that He and only He can do it. Be like the centurion and have faith that Jesus can heal you.