When a Galilean carpenter commands “go”, nobody is likely to move from their place. When he beckons someone to come, they may, but not very sure! No one is under his command, and he has no authority over anyone.
However, the Roman centurion is different. He’s got one hundred soldiers under his command. When he walks in, they all stand attention and salute him. When he commands one of them to fetch something, he does. When he yells ‘march,’ they march on in an array. All of them are under his command. His words work. His words could change things.
There was a Roman centurion who translated his experience at work to faith (Gospel of Luke Chapter 7). His servant had an incurable disease. Being rich, the centurion might have tried all available medical help. It was a need that went beyond the resources he had at his disposal and beyond the authority he had. The sickness or whatever caused it was not under his authority. They will not heed his orders. He was powerless.
But he was humble. Humility is the prerequisite for faith. He knew there were higher authorities. He knew from his experience that authorities higher than him had higher command power. An officer in charge of a legion had much higher power than a centurion.
The knowledge and experience of Centurion shaped his faith. He approached Jesus to request to heal his servant. Jesus promised to go to his house and heal his servant, but the centurion refused. The reason may not be that his house was too small for Jesus. His house must be much bigger than the many houses of the poor that Jesus had been to. The reason was simple; Jesus does not need to be there. His word is enough! He turned down the offer of Jesus saying, “But say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:7).
Article “the” on “word” is important. He meant “the word” for sickness to leave! He knew there is a word to make the army march, there is another word to retreat, so there must be a word for sickness to leave and healing to come in. The one with authority over sickness can command using that word that heals. He recognized that authority and the power of Jesus’ command.
Centurion’s faith was commended because his faith came from his experience and his recognition of Jesus’ authority. In Jesus he saw more than a Galilean tramp. In Jesus he saw a man who has authority over all sickness. That belief is what the Bible calls faith. Faith involves how we perceive the divine. Jesus Christ is not just a Galilean carpenter.