The centurion was a man who knew the meaning of authority. As a leader in the army of Rome, he had soldiers under him who would go when he said, “Go!” and come when he said, “Come!” So, when the centurion sought out Jesus in Capernaum to ask Him to heal his servant who was sick, he was recognizing the authority that Jesus had. No doubt the centurion had heard reports of the things that Jesus had done and believed that Jesus had the authority to heal the servant just by speaking. When the centurion approached Jesus with this belief, Jesus was amazed at the faith of this Roman leader who was not even one of His own disciples. Jesus said that He had not seen such faith among any of His own people. The centurion’s faith was rewarded as Jesus spoke the word and healed the servant (Matthew 8:5-13).
That very same day, Jesus also healed Peter’s mother-in-law, who was lying in bed, sick with a fever. When Jesus touched her hand, the fever broke immediately, and she got up and began to serve Him (Matthew 8:14-15). That same day the disciples were witnesses to these and many other miracles that Jesus performed, casting out demons and healed all who were sick. If anyone should have recognized Jesus’ authority, it was His disciples. Yet, when they left Capernaum and got into a boat with Jesus, it soon became evident that their recognition of Jesus’ authority and their faith in Him were lacking.
As the boat sailed on the Sea of Galilee, a storm arose and the boat was swamped by the waves and tossed by the wind (Mark 4:35-37). While this was happening, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat. Now despite the fact that Jesus was with them, the same Jesus who healed Peter’s mother-in-law and the centurion’s servant, the same Jesus who had authority over sickness and authority over demons, the disciples panicked. They woke Jesus up and cried, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are about to die?” Jesus got up and spoke to the storm. The winds died down and the sea was once again calm. Jesus turned to the disciples and said, “Why are you all so afraid? Why do you have so little faith?” Seeing this, the disciples said to one another, “Who is this? Even the winds and the seas obey Him!” (Mark 4:38-41)
What a contrast in faith! A centurion who was not a follower saw in Jesus authority that no one else had. And yet, Jesus’ followers did not recognize that same authority.
May we all be like the centurion, having faith in Jesus and His authority over all things.