When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 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. 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.” 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. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 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.Matthew 8:5-13
Capernaum, translated in the Greek as “Village of Comfort.” Capernaum was a small town in its heyday situated on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, near where the northernmost extension of the Jordan River flowed into it. Based on its name, it is possible that this was the home of the Old Testament prophet Nahum. This made Capernaum a strategic fishing port as fish would flow into the Sea from the River following the current of the river. This was the city that was the home of a couple of fishermen who would go on to become fishers of men – Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew.
Due to its strategic importance as a fishing port, a Roman garrison of 100 soldiers was stationed there. Their leader was an officer – unnamed, except for his title of centurion. The centurion knew his place and his position of authority, yet he also knew his limitations. More importantly, he was familiar with this Jewish rabbi who defied human limitations. Obviously he was a man who cared deeply for his charges. Otherwise, a servant would be considered replaceable. But this centurion had enough of a relationship with his servant to seek out the only one who he had heard of that could heal him.
Perhaps it is out of desperation that he reached out to Jesus for help, but that is just fine. “He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.'” (Matthew 17:20) All it took was this centurion taking a step of faith to ask Jesus to heal his servant. In fact, Jesus offers to go and touch him, but the centurion out of humility simply acknowledge the omnipresent power of God to heal with but a word. And it was so. And Jesus praised the faith of this centurion.
All too often we place our faith in our marketing strategies and our programs. We spend crazy amounts of money investing in finding the right location, location, location – believing that to be enough to draw in the fish. We cast our nets far and wide and we are astonished when they come up empty. But Jesus, who is known by his reputation for kindness and grace and mercy to those who would simply believe, has the power to simply speak and heal. He is able to heal the broken hearted and the afflicted. He can heal the confused mind and restore the wayward child if only we approach Him with faith, not our strategies and plans. Jesus is not confined to our strategic plans. He will not be boxed into a program or a formulaic approach to religion. He desires faith and relationship.
Is the Jesus you reflect kind? Do you exhibit mercy and grace to those around you? That is what will inspire faith in others, not our superficialities. Jesus was in Capernaum because that is where the fish were that He was trying to catch. In the process, He caught the attention of a soldier and inspire the faith of a man to heal his servant, for whom he was responsible. Oh, that we could learn so much more from this simple act of faith in our King of kings.
Let us cling to Jesus instead of our programs. Let us demonstrate His kindness that is representative of His Kingdom instead of being activists for the kingdoms of this world. Let us love and demonstrate grace and mercy in a world that is lacking of these highest of virtues. Let us show the world who Jesus really is – the Son of the most high God – who can simply speak the word and our world can be healed by His power.