A Roman Centurion: On Faith, Logic and Authority
In Matthew 8:5-13 we learn of a Roman soldier of rank approaching Jesus to plead for the wellbeing of his servant. We can learn much from this man’s act:
This man had great faith! Even the Son of God marveled at and lauded his display of trust and hope (v.10). Being a Roman soldier, this man could have compelled a Jew like Jesus to carry out orders on behalf of the Empire (see Matthew 5:41). But instead, he appeals to Jesus, calling him “Lord.” He didn’t find himself worthy to have Christ under his roof, underscoring how highly this man thought of Jesus. Our faith is shaped by how we view him: the more we understand who Jesus is, the more our faith grows.
That faith was based on logic. Notice how this incredible faith is grounded in logical understanding: this soldier was a man well acquainted with authority, and he had at least heard—if not witnessed—Jesus’ authority (ex. Matthew 7:28-29). Certainly the one who healed a leper (Matthew 8:1-4) could do the same for a paralyzed, suffering man. And since he personally knew true authority could be exercised from afar and by just a word (see v. 9), he reached the conclusion that if Jesus is who he seems to be, he didn’t have to be in the room to make a miracle happen. Our faith, too, has assurance and certainty behind it (Hebrews 11:1).
All faith must rest on authority. Coupled with his logic, the centurion had a faith centered on the power and influence of Jesus. Why make this request of someone who had no ability to carry it out? Why trust a God who cannot help? Because this man believed Jesus had the power and ability to exercise his will, he acts on that belief—resulting in his servant’s recovery (v. 13). True, real faith is not just belief in my head: it is a pervasive belief that influences all that I do and say. If I take God at His word, I will live my life in humble submission to His authority, seeking to please Him with every thought, word and deed.