After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum.  Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.  When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant.  And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him,  for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”  And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying 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 say the word, and let my servant be healed.  For I too 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 servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”  When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”  And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.
(Luke 7:1-10 ESV)
The most subtle and passive thing stuck out to me as I read this today. Everybody said the Centurion was “worth” and “deserved” the help of Jesus. If there is anyone Jesus doesn’t show a lot of mercy too, it’s the people that think they deserve stuff. He has just spent time and after this He will spend more time explaining to the Pharisees why they really aren’t as worthy as they think they are, and that the Kingdom of Heaven doesn’t really belong to those that are self-worthy!
I think Jesus already knew what He was in for with this guy, because He goes to help him and is met by servants of the Centurion (pay attention to that! The man’s servants are doing exactly what he told them to do!) that say the Centurion isn’t worthy. The only people in this story that are not calling the Centurion worthy are those that serve under him that are under orders to do so. And what message does he have for Jesus?
“This sickness will submit to your authority, you can take care of it however you want.”
Not only is the sickness under the authority of Jesus, but by asking for Jesus’ help, the Centurion is also submitting to Jesus’ authority.
When you go to the doctor and tell him your problems and ask for his help, you are submitting to his authority.
When you show up at the cell phone store and ask him to switch over your phone, completely unlocking your smartphone with your privacy code and unlocking your account with your social security number, you are submitting to that 20-year old’s authority.
The Centurion here knew power and he knew authority. He knew how it worked, and the consequences of rebellion. His response to that knowledge was “Go ask Jesus for help here, but let Him help however He judges best.”
Jesus helped, and called the humblest Centurion in Israel the greatest man of faith He had seen.