And when Jesus entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel (Matt 8:5-10).
Why did Jesus praise the centurion for his great faith? The centurion personally approached Jesus on the behalf of his sick servant. Why didn’t he send one of his other servants? The centurion evidently cared a lot for those who were subjected to his authority – in the likeness of God. Another thing that must have been his motivation to personally approach Jesus was that since he knew authority he most likely assumed that his word carried greater weight than the word from one of his servants even though they represented him. And in addition it was his own personal desire to see the servant healed. Would any of his servants have displayed the same fervor and earnestness?
Jesus said: I will come and heal him, to which the centurion replied: Speak the word only. Which word? Did he recognize Jesus as the Word, as the one who spoke everything into being? As the one who said: “Let there be light!”? The centurion evidently knew the power of the spoken word – of the word of faith. And he evidently also knew that the word got its efficacy because it was spoken by someone who was subjected to someone else’s authority, that is, Jesus spoke the words of His Father who Jesus represented and from whom He derived His authority in the simile of the centurion who had authority because he was subjected to authority.
The centurion knew that his words got their authority because he himself was under authority so that whenever he spoke a word to one of those subjected to him it would be obeyed and accomplish that which was pleasing to him. Likewise would Jesus’ words accomplish that which was pleasing to Him because He was also under authority, that is, under His Father’s authority who was the One the Son represented and expressed by His words and acts. The centurion also saw that whatever he spoke would be pleasing to those above him because they had given him authority. Likewise would Jesus’ words be pleasing to His Father on account of this authority principle.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebr 11:1). Faith is not only receiving, it is also recognizing the substance. The centurion’s desire was to personally receive on behalf of his servant the healing miracle, but he also put himself in a very vulnerable position by personally meeting up with Jesus. He had no visible ground under his feet, as it were. But, owing to the fact that Jesus praised him for his great faith he must have recognized that the substance isn’t visible, it belongs to the eternal realm and is Spirit, that is, God.
The centurion also acknowledged his nothingness by how he articulated himself. Without the authority endowed him from above he would have no authority and no one would be compelled to obey him. He was made able to exercise authority because this privilege was given him from powers that were greater than him. He didn’t have authority in himself in his nothingness. He most likely recognized this fact in Jesus too and thus he expressed himself as he did wholly trusting that Jesus was enabled to perform because of a higher power.
In spirit-Spirit union with the same God whose authority Jesus represented we are also made able ministers of the new covenant and can with boldness articulate “our” words of faith knowing that we are not the source or the power, but that we exercise authority because it is given us from above as the Father’s representatives on this planet just like the centurion was the higher power’s representative in Capernaum. And, of course, the centurion didn’t become a centurion and a man of authority just like that. He had to pass through the grades and be trained before he could take on more and more responsibility. Nevertheless, he was a centurion all along, but he didn’t know that when he started out his career in the Roman army.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isa 55:10-11).