I have read these verses many times. Than suddenly, I saw something new.
Jesus met a gentile with faith. The Messiah honored this man, and said he had not seen such great faith even in Israel.
What was it that made Jesus give such a statement?
Let take a fresh look at the recording in the gospel of Luke.
The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.
He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.
(end of scriptures).
That the Jewish elders pleaded for the centurion, is not recorded in the gospel of Matthew.
His plead has merits, and that makes this Roman officer very special. Being part of an occupying force, he is by the Jewish elders branded as a “Friend of Israel”. Not only does he “love the Jewish nation”. He has also build the very synagogue that the Jewish elders were using.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Jesus had seen a lot of people with faith in Israel. So what was so great with the faith of the centurion?
While many Jews acted and worked as the very enemies of the Jewish people, Jesus was facing a gentile supporter of His people, who also believed Jesus was the Messiah. Just like the Samaritan woman, who gave a testimony that would lead other Samaritans towards faith in Him.
“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
Written by Ivar