A FAITH NONE LIKE IT (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10).
I was a Roman officer in charge of one hundred soldiers. I led a life of obedience to my superiors and expected no less from my subordinates. I cared for my soldiers and servants and for those over whom I had military jurisdiction. I preferred to be good to others rather than demand it of them. I preferred to be liked rather than be disliked as a foreigner. And I did not interfere in my subjects’ religious practices. I even encouraged them by helping them build places of worship. Especially, my Jewish friends valued my assistance and attitude towards them. And I did not mind that religious outcasts took shelter in my town. Jesus was one of them that had taken up residence in my jurisdiction. His own town had intended to kill Him. His coming had an enormous impact on my area and it was beneficial. He was spoken of as a man who was in touch with the God that lived in heaven. I had the impression that He was a very holy man and could not be approached by someone like me. I was good but not that good. I did not regard myself worthy being in the company of Israel’s holy men.
Generally, I did not ask for any favors of the Jewish leaders. But I had a servant that was very loyal to me and I just could not see him waste away in death. He deserved better. When I heard about Jesus healing all kinds of diseases, I petitioned the elders to intervene in behalf of my servant. They were kind enough to go to Jesus and begged Him in my behalf. The leaders persuaded Him to reciprocate for the good I had done for the Jewish people. It was true that I had a certain kind of admiration for these oppressed people and I did help them build a new school. But that was not the reason why I send the leaders rather than go myself to Jesus. I was not looking for a reward for what I had done. My main reason for not approaching Jesus was that He was holy and I was not. I was a soldier and my life was stained with behavior that was unbecoming to be in the presence of a holy man; especially, one that was spoken of as the Son of the Most-High God. In my house were soldiers that were leading rough and sinful lives and that made my residence unfit for a godly person. In addition to my own unworthiness, I obeyed and gave orders. On those grounds, I believed that the Son of the High God of Israel should be obeyed. All Jesus had to do is speak the word and the sickness would depart from my servant.
The leaders did not rely my request accurately. Instead, they persuaded Jesus to come to my house. I had to dispatch another worthy delegation and inform Jesus that His Words of healing would be more than sufficient. We were not worthy to receive His worthiness. Just as my soldiers and servants obeyed my commands, so would sickness obey Jesus’ words and heal my servant. From a distance and out of reach of my hearing, I saw Jesus stop and look at the people about Him and began to speak. From my delegation, I learned that it was all about me. Jesus was seeing something in me that I did not know I had. He told the Jewish people that no one He had met in Israel had a faith that matched mine. He told them that people like me would be in heaven with their founders while those for whom it was intended would not. It was a shocker to those who were listening to Jesus. How could an unworthy Roman soldier reach heaven while worthy saints would not? Then it dawned on me as if a bright light had opened my mind. It was not my unworthiness that gained Jesus’ approval but my belief in obeying His Words. His Words represented power – the kind no man had. I, a man, not accustomed to the Jewish faith, believed in such a power. The Jewish people, unlike my people, had a marvelous history of godly men doing miraculous work. I had no doubt that Jesus ranked above all the godly men of the past and that He had supernatural powers. I was convinced that when He spoke the Word my servant would be healed.
Orders for me were orders. They did not have to be carried out by the one who gave them but by those beneath him. In a similar manner, I believed Jesus’ orders could heal my servant by those that would carry His message of healing. But to my amazement, His words required no intermediaries or carriers. They affected and touched my servant directly. Just as I believed, before my messengers returned, my servant’s health had been restored. He got well before my eyes without anyone being between Jesus and my servant. At that point my servant was too weak to believe; hence, it was I who had become the intermediary. My faith became a carrier or a transmitter. That day, I gained enormous respect for the Words of the Lord and for the power that resides in faith. It did not seem to matter how far away the Lord was, His Words could and did find their target through my faith. Fortunately, Jesus’ Words were always good and beneficial. I have learned that He could pass on His Words through others. I fear to think what His Words could do in the hands of selfish men. Will Jesus’ followers use His Words to help or rule over others? Will they use Jesus’ orders to free or enslave others, save or condemn them? What will the result of their faith be, when they enlist the authority of Jesus’ Words? For me, my faith brought the Lord’s Words of healing to my dear servant.