Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything, but God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Luke 7:1-10 (NRSV)
After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set 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 slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.
I’ve read Luke 7 multiple times over the years and preached from it on different occasions. But for some reason the words struck me with extra force this time: “…not even in Israel have I found such faith” (7:9). Jesus was speaking about a Roman military officer who had summoned Jesus to heal the officer’s dying servant. In a follow up message, the officer relayed that Jesus need not even show up in person. All he had to do was to “speak the word” (verse 7). This foreigner’s act of faith was greater than any Jesus had seen among his own people. Stunning!
In the wake of last year’s presidential campaigns and election, we’ve heard a lot about foreigners: they’re here illegally; they take our jobs; they’re rapists; they’re murderers; they’re terrorists. Jesus could have acted similarly. The Roman officer was, after all, part of an occupying power that exercised stiff and often brutal control over Judea. But Jesus responded to the soldier’s request and in turn discovered the foreigner’s great faith. Maybe there’s a message there for us to overhear in these times of suspicion, fear, and hatred of “the other.”
Creator God, you have made all people in your image. But far too often we forget that and look only for the worst in people different from ourselves. Open our eyes and our hearts to see your reflection in all of your dear people. Amen.
Go with God.