Jesus had finished delivering great words about kingdom living to the crowd that had scattered on a hillside in Galilee. Then he walked to Capernaum, where a Roman Centurion sent elders from the Jewish synagogue to implore Jesus to heal the centurion’s desperately ill servant. Before Jesus arrived at the soldier’s house, friends delivered the centurion’s message to Jesus. “Just say the word and my servant will be healed." (Luke 7:7) So Jesus didn’t go to the house. And when the friends returned to check on the condition of the ailing servant, he was already healed.
Who Am I?
I am the one who would have asked Jesus to come to the house. I would have asked him to see the terrible suffering for himself. I would have believed that if Jesus only knew how bad it was, he would do something!
I’ve played that scenario out in prayer more than once. I have rehearsed the details of some terrible time, some unfair suffering, some unmerited rejection, some devastating misunderstanding. I did it believing that if I could communicate how bad it was, Jesus would “fix it." I connected my faith to the desperate nature of some circumstance. Bad idea.
The centurion’s faith humbles me. He only wanted a word from Jesus. And that from a distance. Just a word that would make something better. This was a Gentile, albeit a Gentile who respected the Jews enough to help fund the building of their synagogue.
Do you know what I find most interesting about this story? There is no recorded word from Jesus. He didn’t stop, raise his head toward heaven and say “Heal” elongating the vowels to make sure there was no mistake about what He asked. This was a lesson about faith, not about healing!
Real faith acknowledges the presence and power of The Word made flesh. All arguments to persuade how great the need is are weak and unnecessary in comparison.
Don’t misunderstand here. I sometimes use too many words before I understand that I only need one word from Jesus. But my prayer is never about my words, the many or the few. Prayer and the help that comes from praying is more about what Jesus says to me than what I say to Him. When I understand that, I listen more and use fewer words.