Red Letter Year: 3/27

Matthew 8:1-17

Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.”

Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! 11 And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.

14 When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. 15 But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.

16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”


Two things really stand out to me in this passage. First, Jesus states his willingness to heal twice at the beginning of this passage, to the leper and then to the centurion. Having given us a compendium of Jesus’ teaching, Matthew turns now to give us a collection of healing accounts. He introduces this section with the essential message: Jesus is willing to heal.

The second thing that always gets me when I read this is the centurion’s  response to Jesus. Jesus highlights the man’s superlative faith. I am also struck by his respect and humility. He was well aware that Jews did not enter into Gentile residences. Like so many cultural barriers, Jesus seems perfectly willing to break through that one as well, but he gives in to the centurion’s deference. That is probably the most significant thing here. Jesus was willing to heal the man’s servant either way. He didn’t push the centurion to let him come and he didn’t withhold healing when the centurion basically said he would only let Jesus in so far.

I think those are good things for us to remember. Jesus is willing to heal us and he is not all that picky about the circumstances. Things (including us) don’t have to be just so for Jesus to heal us.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.