Day of Ash Wednesday
Scripture: St. Luke 7:1-10 (NKJV)
7:1 Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum. 2 And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. 3 So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, 5 “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue.” 6 Then Jesus went with them.
And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I also am a man placed under authority, having 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.”
9 When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” 10 And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.
We have in this text something at which to marvel—a man who might well be considered a hero of the faith, actually telling Jesus not to bother to come to his house! As much as we are rightly exhorted to do our good works discreetly and not try to draw attention to ourselves, this centurion’s good works were quite well known among the people of Capernaum. He had even built a synagogue for them. This seems to be a far cry from the Pharisees who raged at Jesus because He exercised His authority by healing a withered hand on the Sabbath. Here we have a Gentile who simply says, “I understand authority. Leadership and command have been my life. But my influence is nothing compared to yours. You can stay right where You are and still bring wholeness to my servant by the power of Your divine will.”
In addition to his obvious faith, he didn’t try to bargain with Jesus. Instead of laying claim on Jesus’ heavenly favors because of his works, he humbly proclaims his unworthiness. The centurion has demonstrated for us a good, right, and salutary relationship between works and faith.
We pray: Lord of Heaven and Earth, grant that we grow in our willingness and ability to imitate this centurion both in faith and in works. And may we still be bold to claim that which You in Your mercy have promised for Jesus’ sake, even the salvation of our souls. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.