A Roman centurion, upon learning that his servant — a servant who is “dear unto him” — is sick and ready to die, sends Jewish elders to Jesus. The elders “plead earnestly with [Jesus],” saying that “this man deserves to have You do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” The Jewish elders claim this Gentile Roman is worthy of Jesus’ attention and time. Jesus goes with them.
Does Jesus go with the elders because the centurion is worthy? Has the Roman earned Jesus’ attention because he’s built a synagogue? Or, does Jesus go with the elders because of His love for the centurion and His desire to heal the servant who is on his deathbed?
The Roman centurion — second guessing his boldness in sending the elders and in sudden, total humility — sends friends to tell Jesus not to come. This man, who the elders say is worthy of Jesus, says, “Lord, trouble not Yourself; for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof. Wherefore, neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee; but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.” (Luke 7:6-7, KJV)
Worthy? The centurion doesn’t believe he’s deserving of Jesus’ special attention. If anything, he feels supremely unworthy. Yet, the Roman understands authority. He knows that with a word, Jesus is able to heal his servant. Jesus doesn’t need to be present; He can heal from a distance. And that is exactly what Jesus does. Jesus heals the servant not because the Roman centurion is worthy, but because this man has “great faith.” (Luke 7:9, KJV)