The story of the Centurion is a very human story about faith in the midst of crisis.

Matthew 8:
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
 7 Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

To understand the context changes the dynamics of this story drastically. This man was a Centurion.

In this period, soldiers in the Roman legions served twenty years. Unlike aristocrats, who could become tribunes or higher officials immediately, most centurions rose to their position from within the ranks and became members of the equestrian (knight) class when they retired. Roman soldiers participated in pagan religious oaths to the divine emperor.

This was a man that Jews loved to hate. He was a Gentile who belonged to Caesar, their oppressor. He gave orders that resulted in severe punishment and torture. He blasphemed the God of Israel by bowing to Caesar as a god.

The enemy of the people came to Jesus asking for help and showing kind affection for a suffering slave.

It’s human nature to be territorial about faith, assuming that we have it and our enemies could not possibly possess it. Jesus is approachable from every corner of the globe and responds by asking the man if he can help. “Shall I come and heal your slave?”

Jesus often had defiant, prophetic words for his religious leaders, but responded respectfully to civil authority. Instead of chiding the man for being an oppressor, he asked if the Centurion wanted the slave to be healed.

If a pimp came and asked you to pray for one of his girls, would you respond with the compassion of Jesus? Jesus did not discriminate against people based on their culture, religion, goodness or social status.