“ALL WHO SEEK THE LORD SHALL FIND HIM AND SHALL PRAISE HIS NAME…. THE WHOLE EARTH SHALL SEE [HIM] AND RETURN TO THE LORD; THE PEOPLE OF EVERY NATION SHALL WORSHIP HIM.” PSA. 22:26-27 (TLB)
In the Bible there is a most amazing story of a Roman army captain who had a beloved servant who was dying — in fact the Bible says the servant was at the "point of death." We do not know this soldier’s name, but the text reveals that he was a "centurion," which means he had at least 100 soldiers under his command.
The centurion had heard about Jesus, in fact most of Israel had heard, and multitudes were following Him because the miracles had made Jesus famous! Lepers were cleansed, blind were seeing, demons were being cast out; even the dead were being raised to life! We know from the Bible account that this Roman officer was most unusual — he had some friends among the Jewish elders. Now remember, the Romans were generally hated by the Jews. The Romans were the conquerors, the occupiers of their "holy land." They were collecting exorbitant taxes from the Jews and were ruling Israel with an iron fist! Constant insurrections were brutally crushed with Jewish rebels either jailed or crucified.
So why would our Roman officer think he even had a chance of receiving a miracle from Jesus for his dying servant? Well, remember he was very different from the other hated Romans. For whatever reason he had some Jewish friends among the elders —
- "When the captain heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his servant." Luke 7:3 (TLB)
Why the Roman officer did not come directly to Jesus we do not know — perhaps he was too bashful, or it probably was not politically correct for a Roman to be seen conferring with a Jew — especially JESUS! Whatever the reason, the centurion asked his Jewish friends to speak to Jesus on his behalf and plead with Him to come and heal his servant.
Now, right here is the crux of a (to some) controversial question that begs an answer from this unusual story.
The Jewish elders came to Jesus as requested and as the Scripture records:
- "They began pleading earnestly with Jesus to come with them and help the man. They told him what a wonderful person the captain was." Luke 7:4 TLB
Now here is where we walk softly because the question — "Does a gift to God help bring a healing to pass?"— gets answered? Hear the rest of the story and you decide.
- The Jewish elders continued their entreaty to Jesus: "'If anyone deserves your help, it is he,' they said, 'for he loves the Jewish people and even paid personally to build us a synagogue!'" Luke 7:5b NLT
Did I not tell you that this was a most unusual Roman soldier?
So, what would you expect Jesus to do? I think I would have expected Him to refuse, as He did to the Syrophoenician woman when he told her that the "children’s bread was not for the dogs!" After all, Jesus was not sent to the Gentile outsiders, but rather to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel." I would have expected Jesus to, at least, call the Roman soldier to Himself to look him over and check out his Jewish friends.
But, what did Jesus do? Without another word, the Scripture records — "So Jesus went with them" (Luke 7:6 NLT).
The rest of the story is thrilling, but the question still begs an answer. Why did Jesus go without another word? Was it simply Jesus’ compassion, or did the centurion’s love for the Jews and his gift of a synagogue have anything to do with it? Before the wonderful conclusion to this story, let me add that Jesus had just finished preaching a major sermon to a great crowd. No doubt the soldier heard it. One main point of Jesus’ sermon was a very familiar verse:
- "For if you give, you will get! Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over." Luke 6:38 TLB
Ah, how the critics hate us for using this word from Jesus to support our so-called "prosperity gospel"! But He goes on to conclude this verse with:
- "Whatever measure you use to give — large or small — will be used to measure what is given back to you." Luke 6:38b TLB
So, do our gifts gain us more favor with God for healing or any other needs we present to Him? Well, it surely did for our Roman officer, because the rest of the story reveals that his servant was indeed healed!
You probably know the ending: the soldier finally does speak to Jesus and says that his house was not worthy for one so great as Jesus to enter it. He reveals some unusual faith by telling Jesus how his men under his command obey his every order; so he concludes by asking Jesus to simply "speak the word," and that word alone would heal his servant. At this, the Scripture reveals:
- "Jesus was amazed. Turning to the crowd he said, 'Never among all the Jews in Israel have I met a man with faith like this.'" Luke 7:9 TLB
So, can we buy a healing or anything from God? NO — A THOUSAND TIMES NO! Again and again Jesus told those who were healed, "THY FAITH HATH MADE THEE WHOLE." But I see a potent combination here: faith and giving; yes, a powerful combination that brought the precious gift of healing to the Roman soldier’s servant.
Ah, dear partners, we all have needs that only our God can provide. I surely do not have all the answers, but I know this: it is never wrong to bring God a special gift, expecting a special answer to that urgent need. I rest my case with this: When God had a need (sons and daughters), what did He do? He gave heaven’s greatest Gift — the Son of His love.
- "Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matt. 1:21 KJV
So, what did God receive? You know: millions of sons and daughters — including YOU AND ME!
Jan and I will join you in giving our best in our November PRAISE-A-THON®. We love you more and more as we move into our 38th year! Shall we keep this Voice ON THE AIR? Yes, I know!
Join your worldwide TBN family for a glorious week of REVIVAL Praise-a-Thon® October 31-November 7! (Pictured: Jan and her Praise-a-Thon® team at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida)