There’s a story about a military leader, a centurion, who desires Jesus to heal his dying servant.
The centurion doesn’t approach Jesus himself, but instead he calls in a favor, asking some Jewish leaders to go on his behalf. If these men are like most of the religious leaders we read about in the Bible, they don’t like Jesus and must be humiliated to ask him for help.
In presenting their case, the Jewish leaders claim the centurion is worthy to receive Jesus’ assistance. This perspective is consistent with the people’s understanding of the Old Testament, which they see as focusing on right behavior.
Despite the admirable qualities of the centurion, the reality is no one deserves God’s favor. But while we can’t earn God’s attention, he gives it anyway.
Jesus agrees to help, but the centurion deems himself unworthy to meet Jesus or for Jesus to come to his house. In and of ourselves, we are not worthy either; it’s only through Jesus that we become worthy.
Jesus is amazed at the centurion’s faith; the servant is made well in absentia.