READ: Matthew 8:5-17
5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,
6 Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.
7 And he said to him, I will come and heal him.
8 But the centurion replied, Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he comes, and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.
10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.
11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,
12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
13 And to the centurion Jesus said, Go; let it be done for you as you have believed. And the servant was healed at that very moment.
14 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.
15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.
16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.
There are, I think, always more dimensions to Jesus' ministry than at first meet the eye. A first glance at this passage and we say, "Isn't that great! Jesus had compassion on the Centurion and on Peter and healed their loved ones. But Jesus doesn't like to waste an opportunity. It seems to me that he also healed something in the Centurion and in Peter. Sort of 4 for the price of 2. What's the thing that is healed in them? Well, with the Centurion I think the issue was worthiness. He believed that Jesus had the authority and the power to do what he was asking, but he didn't think himself worthy of the favor.
Dr. Tony Campolo tells a story from his days in seminary. The professor asked him to open the class in prayer. Young Tony stood and prayed, "God, I am so worthless..." Immediately the professor barked, interrupting Tony's prayer, "Mr. Campolo, you are wrong. You are not worthless. You are of great value to God. The word is unworthy. You are unworthy to come before God. Begin again." But I think the professor was incorrect too. The Centurion needed to know that he not only had value before God but that he was worthy of what Jesus was about to do for him. He was a Roman soldier. I think he couldn't quite figure out how a Jewish rabbi would want to heal his servant, no matter how much value that servant might have to God.
The healing of Peter's mother-in-law is a healing of expectations. Peter knew she was sick and wouldn't be able to serve them. That means she must have been very sick indeed. In that culture tasks were assigned to certain people by class or station. In most Jewish households the men would simply have expected her to get off her bed and do her duty, unless she was simply unable to stand. Peter doesn't ASK Jesus to heal her. Did he expect that he would? The text doesn't say. My guess is that Peter was like most of us. He knew the Master could heal if he wanted to. But I think he just didn't want to impose, reasoning that his mother-in-law would get well in time and... well... Jesus was "off the clock" and probably wouldn't want to do any freebies.
There are a lot of reasons why we don't come to Christ for the help we know he can give. What's yours?
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.