Devotional Thoughts: Slavery, Faith & Healing

Some passages in the Bible can be disturbing. This verse by itself isn’t disturbing. It’s praising the faith of a Roman centurion. Centurions were leaders who had responsibility. This story appears in Matthew 8:5-13. The centurion approaches Jesus with concern for his servant. He says his servant is suffering at home and is paralyzed.

Now, I don’t know if this man is compassionate towards his servant, or if he wants him healed because his servant obviously isn’t able to work for him while paralyzed. We will never know. Slavery disturbs me! One of my daughters lived as a slave for a time period. It’s taken years for her to work through numerous traumatic experiences. God set her free.

The centurion had such power that he explained to Jesus that he didn’t need to go to his home to heal his servant. Just like the centurion gives orders and things happen this centurion did understand the power within Jesus. Jesus praised him for his great faith and understanding of Jesus. This centurion may have been compassionate towards his servant. It’s interesting to note the word for servant here in Greek is pais. It’s not the Greek word for slave: doulos. Ancient times presented different agreements than we have in our American culture. Slavery is illegal. I can certainly agree to work for someone in exchange for housing or something else if I choose. Exactly what the relationship was between the centurion and the servant was, we will never know.

What we do know is the centurion believed in Jesus. Belief affects our actions and this centurion believed in such a way that he sought out Jesus and knew Jesus could heal his servant. the servant was healed. Faith certainly affects the direction our life goes if it’s strong enough to affect our actions. I hear James whispering, “Faith without works is dead,” in my ear.


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